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Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 (Part 3)

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Performance Tests

How do the devices match up in benchmark tests?

In real world use we found the Nexus 7 to be smoother than the Kindle Fire HD. The combination of the Project Butter enhancements in the Nexus 7’s Jelly Bean OS and its faster processor completely eliminating lag. The Tegra 3 processor in the Nexus is also highly optimised for 3D gaming, although in reality the number of high quality games for the Kindle is limited and unlikely to be a major reason for buying the tablet.

In synthetic benchmark tests our findings were backed up. The AnTuTu test of graphics and processing power showed the Nexus 7 to be as much as a third faster than the Kindle, while the Vellamo browsing performance test also showed Google’s device to have a clear edge.

How do the devices match up in benchmark tests?

How do the devices match up in benchmark tests?

Test 5: Performance and hackability

There’s no doubting that thanks to the processors in both of these devices, especially the Tegra 3 CPU found in the Nexus 7, you'll have a great time using both of these tablets. Swiping between pages is a great experience, and apart from the very odd occasion we encountered lag on the Fire HD, it was hardly noticeable.

The multitasking power of the Nexus 7 should be noted however something that is noticeably lacking in the Kindle Fire HD, no doubt in an attempt to make the device easy to use and maintain good battery life. And if you’re a fan of playing the most graphically Intense games, along the lines of Horn and The Bard’s Tale, you’ll be well covered here, where the Fire HD might be pushed to its limits, and struggle from time to time.

Another thing we don’t like about the Amazon tablet Is that it Is ad-supported. These are often quite unintruslve, being displayed on the lock screen like a regular Kindle device, but they do also appear at other times as well. In a way it fits with the entire ethos of the device it is effectively a massive storefront and is understandable that compromises have to be made to meet such a low price point, but if you want to remove them you will have to pay a little more.

For the Android enthusiast the ability to hack a device cannot be ignored. Here there really is no comparison. While the Nexus 7 can be unlocked, rooted and flashed with custom ROMs and kernels to your heart’s content, the Kindle Fire HD is well locked down. It can be rooted, which means you will be able to add some of the missing Android apps, like the Play store, If you want.

The Kindle Fire HD provided better battery life

The Kindle Fire HD provided better battery life

But the bootloader is locked tight, and at the time of writing it seemed highly unlikely this situation would change. That means no custom ROMs, and no way of making any serious changes to the software or Ul. If you thought the Kindle Fire HD represented the opportunity to put together your own cheap but high-quality Android tablet, think again. We’d guess it's a similar story for official updates as well. The Nexus 7 will be the first tablet to get new versions of the Android OS as and when they are launched. It’s unlikely the Kindle Fire HD will get much more than bug fixes and enhancements to the Amazon stores. Such is the extent to which Android has been relegated In the device, however, that this scarcely matters.

Both tablets delivered impressive battery life, with the Kindle Fire HD getting the edge on our ‘normal use’ test. The Nexus delivered between about 6-8 hours, and the Kindle around 8-9.

Verdict: Performance and hackability

Kindle Fire HD

·         Fast and responsive

·         Multitasking more limited

·         Almost no hacking support

Nexus 7

·         Very fast and reliable

·         Extremely powerful and flexible

·         Freely hackable

NOOK HD: WORTH WAITING FOR?

Has Android’s new name got its own Nexus killer?

·         Nook HD instant expert

·         Available in seven-inch and nine-inch versions

·         Nook HD+ has a stunning 1,920 x 1,280 display, and is priced from £229

·         App store limited to 100 popular apps

·         Movies and TV shows available through Nook video service

·         Book and magazine stores also included

·         Runs on Ice Cream Sandwich

The Nook HD is the third budget-priced seven-inch Android tablet. Coming from US bookseller Barnes & Noble it would appear to be targeted most directly at Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD (the company also has its own range of Kindle-style eBook readers), but it may find the middle ground between that and the Nexus 7.

The Nook HD runs Android 4.0 but is heavily skinned, and lacks the Google apps, instead coming with its own curated app store. The target market for the device is families and the software supports multiple user profiles, making it suitable for children and adults alike. The specs are good: a 1.3GHz dual-core processor and Barnes & Noble claims the tablet is 80 per cent faster than the Kindle Fire HD. It has a higher resolution screen than either Amazon’s or Google’s tablets. The prices are tempting: $254.4 for 8GB and $302.4 for 16GB. Like the Kindle Fire HD, the biggest question is how Androidy’ the Nook HD is. Its US only predecessor was extremely hackable; time will tell whether this model is the same.

Test 6: Value

If all this seven-inch tablet talk has got you itching to go buy one, you might be even happier to hear the price. Prices for the Nexus 7 start at an impulse buy $254.4. For your money you’ll get 8GB of free storage, but with apps like Dropbox and Google Drive available from Google Play, you won’t need to worry about maxing out storage. There's also a 16GB version available for $318.4.

Amazon has done a remarkable job of driving down the price for the Fire HD to match the Nexus 7, with its entry level 16GB version coming in at $254.4 and a huge 32GB version coming in at just $318.4 .

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is $19 cheaper to build than Google and Asus’ Nexus 7, according to an estimate by the research firm IHS iSuppli.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is $19 cheaper to build than Google and Asus’ Nexus 7, according to an estimate by the research firm IHS iSuppli.

Verdict: Value

Kindle Fire HD

·         More storage than Nexus 7

·         Ad-supported

·         Unlimited cloud storage included

Nexus 7

·         Future-proof through OS updates

·         Free cloud storage via Google Drive

·         Budget version on the way

The winner...

Two impressive devices, but the Nexus 7 is clearly superior as the all-round super-tablet

They are both seven-inch tablets powered by Android, and yet they could scarcely be any different. The Fire HD is all about consuming media content and, more importantly, buying that content from Amazon. The entire Ul is built around selling you stuff, and getting you to store it on Amazon’s servers in an approach not at all dissimilar to Apple’s iOS and iTunes services. It is completely locked down in almost every conceivable way.

Google would also like you to buy stuff from its stores, but also embraces the open ethos of Android, meaning that it Is happy for you to use the device however you want in theory you don’t even need a Google account (although you would be missing out on the best bits of the tablet).

The verdict is clear: if you want a device for media use alone then get the Kindle Fire HD. Otherwise the Nexus 7 is superior in virtually every aspect.

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