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A look at Barnes & Noble's Nook, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets

Tablets are expected to be hot selling items this holiday season. Here's a look at the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and Amazon Kindle Fire.

November 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Stuck on what to give that special someone this year? Consider a tablet. Almost one in five people are planning on giving an iPad, according to a Consumer Reports holiday survey. But two new tablets are giving the iPad serious competition.

Barnes & Noble is known for its e-book readers, but the latest offering, the Nook Tablet, is the bookseller's first foray into the world of tablet computers. And Amazon, which also has a successful line of e-book readers, announced its first tablet, the Kindle Fire, with much fanfare.

The iPad is still the tablet to beat, dominating sales with more than two-thirds of the market. Consumer Reports tested the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, along with more than 20 others.

"The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are much lower priced than the iPad, but they're also more limited in what they can do. And the screens are about three-inches smaller," said Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds.

Consumer Reports' tests show both tablets do have very good screen quality, and they make it easy to get to a web browser, email and other content.

The differences? The $250 Nook Tablet has 16 gigs of capacity, a memory card slot, and offers access to the Barnes & Noble store. The $200 Kindle Fire only has eight gigs of storage, but you can upload your content to the Amazon Cloud for streaming to the device so storage is less of an issue. And a real plus, the Kindle Fire gives you access to all your Amazon content.

"Up until now, lower-priced tablet computers have been pretty unimpressive in our tests. These are the first models to give the iPad some serious competition," said Reynolds.

But the iPad is still the best option for those looking for the full tablet experience. It's pricey, starting at $499, but the big screen is great for movies and games. Plus it has a camera.

The 32-gig iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G is Consumer Reports' top-rated tablet.

When it comes to content for the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, both have a proprietary app store. While these stores have fewer apps than you'll find on iTunes or in the Android market, there are still several thousand apps available in both, including a wide variety of magazines and newspapers as well as popular games such as Angry Birds.