Editor’s Update: In this Nook vs Kindle review we compared the first generation Nook to the latest generation Kindle. Barnes and Noble released their second generation Nook in June 2011. The prices for the first generation Nook shown in the following review have come down. You can now get the Wi-Fi only version and the Wi-Fi-3G version for $119 and $169 respectively.
This 2011 Nook vs Kindle review comparison shows that even with the growing use of smartphones, tablet PCs, and other “in” gadgets, ebook reading devices like these two aren’t going anywhere soon.
In fact, both the Nook and the Kindle, today’s top two ebook readers, have undergone some interesting changes over the past year. Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the retail giants behind the two devices respectively, have put a lot of effort in these improvements to make ebook reading a more pleasurable experience for users.
In our Nook vs Kindle review in 2010, the Amazon Kindle came out as the clear winner, hands-down. Being a newcomer in the industry at that time, the B&N gadget was still deemed as “buggy” by some and had more than a few technical issues to deal with. It may have had some appeal as an alternative to the Kindle but offered none of the seamlessness that the Amazon device had.
This time around, what has changed? Could the newly-upgraded Kindle 3 manage to stay on top? And given the hardware upgrade and other modifications made on the Nook, is it finally a serious contender or possibly an Amazon Kindle killer?
Let’s answer these questions – and more – in this 2011 Nook vs Kindle comparison review. Please note, this comparison does not include the Nook Color, which is Barnes and Noble’s latest ebook reader. We’ll be doing a separate review of that device and another comparison that will include it in the near future.
Without further ado, here’s what each of these ebook reading devices have to offer:
|Barnes & Noble Nook||Amazon Kindle 3|
|Size||7.7" x 4.9"||7.5" x 4.8"|
11.6 oz (Wi-Fi)
12.1 oz (Wi-Fi and 3G)
|Display Size||6-inch diagonal||6-inch diagonal|
|Display Type||E-Ink||E-Ink Pearl|
|Display Orientation||Portrait||Portrait and Landscape|
|Battery (wireless off)||10 days||1 month|
(w/expandable microSD slot)
|3G Wireless||US Only||100+ countries and territories|
|Content Selection||Over 2 million books||Over 800,000 books|
|Navigation||Color Touch Navigation Panel||Push Button; 5-way Controller|
|Sync Across Devices||YES||YES|
|Supported File Types||EPUB, PDF, PDB, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3||DOC, PDF, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MOBI, MP3|
$199 (Wi-Fi and 3G)
$189 (Wi-Fi and 3G)
|Official Product Page:||www.BarnesandNoble.com/nook||www.Amazon.com/kindle|
Size and Design
Even with the recent upgrades, the Nook has retained its original design whereas the Kindle shed off 21% of its body size and now sports a “sleeker” look. Measuring 7.7″ x 4.9″ x .5″, the Nook is a tad bigger and thicker compared to the Kindle which has the dimensions 7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.335″.
And with the Amazon ereader opting for a smaller size, it also weighs significantly less at 8.7 ounces than the B&N device which tips the scales at 12.1 ounces.
Despite the difference in the size of their frames, the two ebook readers have identically-sized 6-inch reading displays. Both also use e-ink technology which allows for glare-free (even under sunlight) and eyestrain-free reading. However, Amazon has upped the ante a notch higher by utilizing the latest e-ink Pearl technology, which reportedly provides 50% better contrast.
With the wireless turned off, the Kindle 3 can last about a month on a single charge while the Nook can manage 10 days under the same conditions. The Nook though, makes it easier to replace the battery as it can be accessed from the back of the device, whereas the Kindle has to be sent back to Amazon for battery replacement.
The Kindle’s standard memory can accommodate storage of around 3,500 books. The Nook on the other hand, can store up to 1,500 books, although it has an expandable memory slot that will give the user more storage space if needed.
Wi-Fi and 3G Connectivity
Both the B&N Nook and the Amazon Kindle have Wi-Fi only and 3G with Wi-Fi versions, but there’s still a marked difference though. The Nook’s 3G only works within the US whereas a Kindle owner can use free 3G wireless in over 100 countries and territories.
Whichever ebook reader you pick, the sheer variety in content is staggering. The Kindle Store has over 800,000 ebooks to choose from while Barnes & Noble claims over 2 million books in its NOOKBook store. The classics, the latest bestsellers, and the freshest titles are all there for the picking.
As with the first-generation model, the Kindle 3 uses push button technology for navigating through titles and text, while the Nook has a 1-inch color touch screen navigation panel as well as push buttons for turning pages. The colored navigation menu does bring a touch of brightness to the device but if functionality is what matters most to you, the 5-way controller of the Kindle does the job simply yet effectively. The new Kindle also boasts of 20% faster page turns.
For even more ease in reading, you can customize the font as to type and size to whichever you are most comfortable with. The two ereaders each have 3 different font types available. The Nook has 6 different font sizes; Kindle 3 now has 8 sizes plus fonts which they say are “crisper, darker.”
A feature that the Nook has always had and one that Kindle recently adopted is is sharing of books. Ebooks may be shared from one Nook owner to another, and between Kindle users, for 2 weeks.
Syncing Between Devices
It’s a known fact that apps for both the Nook and the Kindle can be installed across different gadgets such as PCs and smartphones. Because both ebook readers allow you to sync across all these devices, it’s easy to pick up where you left off on your reading – from the Nook to your MacBook, or from your iPhone to the Kindle.
Games and Other Features
The two gadgets being compared here are both dedicated ereaders and are in no way meant to compete with multi-tasking devices like the iPad and other tablets. But they actually have a few more apps integrated.
The Kindle for instance, has games (ranging from free to a few dollars), text-to-speech feature, built-in Twitter and Facebook to share meaningful passages with, and a Webkit-based browser. The Nook on the other hand, comes with games Chess and Sudoki, built-in Merriam Webster dictionary, and a basic web browser. Both devices support a variety of file formats including pdf, doc, html, jpeg, gif, mobi, and even mp3 files which can provide background music while you are reading.
Color and Finish
The Kindle 3 comes in 2 color options, white and black/graphite, and the Nook for its part, comes in classic white, although the owner does have the option to replace the original frame and back cover with colored ones. The more noteworthy concern here though is the Kindle’s matte finish versus that of the Nook’s shiny one. This may seem trivial for many, but some of those who are actually using the Barnes & Noble ereader take issue at its shiny frame which throw off reflections under certain lighting conditions.
A Nook vs Kindle comparison won’t be complete without a mention of the price tags that go with each. As expected, the costs don’t vary much for them to remain competitive. The 3rd-generation Kindle Wi-Fi plus 3G and Wi-Fi only retail at $139 and $189 respectively. The Nook 1.5 versions are just $10 higher with the Wi-Fi only priced at $149 and the Wi-Fi+3G retailing at $199.
Watch The Nook vs Kindle Comparison Video
Nook Vs Kindle: Which Gets the Top Spot?
Outstanding both devices may be, in a Nook vs Kindle comparison, there can only be one winner. Which takes the cake now that the latest editions have been tried and tested by consumers?
For sure, there’s no lack of praise for either gadget. According to the New York Times, “New Kindle leaves rivals farther back.” On the other hand, Money Magazine calls the Barnes & Noble’s Nook the, “#1 Pick for e-Readers.”
But after a close study of their features and after reading what actual users had to say about each, which device did we find to be more consumer-friendly, value for the money, and simply the better ebook reader?
We said it then and we’ll say it again: the Amazon Kindle is the ebook reader to beat. That decision was harder to make this time because the Nook has become a more formidable competition for the long-time front runner. But if you do look closely at the features in this Nook vs Kindle comparison, you’ll find that the Amazon Kindle just manages to edge out the Nook in many features – and especially where it really matters.
For instance, the Nook obviously has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to battery life and international 3G coverage. And with the Kindle’s smaller, sleeker, and lighter design, it has put portability to a whole new level. While the Nook does offer the option of an expandable storage, the Kindle’s built-in memory should give any user ample storage for entire libraries at a time.
At the end of the day though, it is still up to you to decide. Do you prefer the Nook’s larger collection of ebooks? Or is Kindle’s international 3G coverage more important? Whatever your needs and preferences may be, hopefully this comprehensive Nook vs Kindle comparison will help make that choice easier for you to make.