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Prizefight: Nook HD vs. Kindle Fire HD

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Prizefight: Nook HD vs. Kindle Fire HD

6:52 /

It's a battle between two 7-inch tablets with their own ecosystems. The Barnes & Noble Nook HD gets updated with Google Play and Chrome, but is it enough to best Amazon's Kindle Fire HD?

-What's up prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong and the 7-inch tablet has proven to be a sweet spot for price and size. So we're facing off two $199 rivals. It's a prizefight punch out between the updated Nook HD and the Kindle Fire HD. Our judges for this fight our senior editor, Eric "The Tank Man" Franklin, Senior editor Donald "taco taco bell" Bell, and myself Ring-a-ling-a-ding Tong. We'll take all three judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest 10 of a point. The final prizefight score will be an average of all round using the same system. Let's get it on. Round 1 is design. The Nook HD brings one of the more original tablet designs with a plastic bezel frame that's wider on the side and their signature ergonomic rubberized backing that's more comfortable to hold. It feels much lighter in weight compared to the Kindle Fire HD. But the Nook HD's biggest win is its 1440x900 resolution that's the best for any 7-inch tablet in the market. Now the Kindle Fire HD brings the more standard design with rounded corners and a rubberized backing with an accent edge stripe. Amazon's 1280x800 resolution is still very good for a screen to size and we like physical volume buttons but they're so flush here that I found myself looking for them many times. The Nook HD gets a 4 and the Kindle Fire gets a 3. Next round is controls and user interface. The Nook HD takes a step back when it comes to the UI. We love a physical home button, but this feels like a multiple interface stack on top of each other with a carousel on the top, a customizable home screen with widgets. But then you go to your library to see all of your different media content there and you still have access to notifications and your settings. There's a little too much going on here all at once and it feels like a mix of a Nook, Kindle and Android interface jumbled together as one. Now the Fire HD brings a really refined and simple UI for people who wanted just to access their content and nothing else. You can add your favorite apps and content to the carousel. There's a row dedicated to different media content to jump directly to. You'll have to pull down menu for your settings and notifications and related content or trending topics that change depending on the app in the carousel. Now it's still a limited interface, and that's a blessing for some users but a course for others who want any real customization. The Kindle Fire HD takes this round with 3.7 and the Nook HD gets a 3. So after averaging two rounds, the Nook HD has the slight edge. Next round is features. Both 16gig tablets bring Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cloud store support, multiple user accounts and they're running their own versions of Android but each brings some unique features. Now the Nook HD is still the only major 7-inch tablet with an expandable microSD card memory slot but its biggest change is that it's now open up the entire Google Play library with access to apps, games and its entire media library and it's really a game changer for this device that has never had before. Plus, you guys can always just hack this thing and turn it into an open Android tablet. Now the Kindle Fire HD brings a front-facing camera and unique features like x-ray for books and movies that brings you more relevant information alongside your content and whisper sync that syncs your location in a book or how far you've seen in a movie across multiple devices. It may not be the sexiest thing to talk about but there are real parental controls here, and Amazon's free time sets time limits on kids' usage. Plus its biggest feature is its content library for Amazon prime member who have access to free movies, tv shows, books and music content. And that's a big deal if you're a prime member. But the bummer, is Amazon Google Play store is overseen by Amazon and limit your app selection. It's just not the pure Google Play experience. The Fire HD's features are great if again you're a prime member but everyone is, still there's a lot to like on both platforms so we're calling this a tie at 4 points a piece. Next round is web browsing and multimedia. The Nook HD software update also raised its game making Google's chrome the default browser is still the best mobile browser even without flash, and we found it to be faster loading than Amazon's Silk browser while bringing all chrome's benefits. But let's talk about that screen and when watching movies, the Nook HD clearly separated itself with sharper image quality and better color reproduction. Movies really look great on this device and make you say wow. -Wow. -The Kindle Fire's Silk browser is still solid but there's no more flash support, video quality looked very good but it doesn't match up to the Nook HD. And the biggest advantage comes with its Dolby Digital speakers that are the best we heard on any tablets today. Both tablets stand out here but it's the Nook HD and its superior screen that get the edge with the 4 and the Fire HD gets a 3.7. So after averaging four rounds, the Nook HD has pushed its lead to 2.10, the final round that decides it all is performance. It would be a stretch to call these top performers because they both have sluggish moments with their interfaces and they just aren't on the level with other higher end tablets on the market. The Nook HD excels with better gaming performance that even best the Nexus 7 in our 3D mark graphics test. Plus, it also offers the best looking movies on a 7-inch tablet. The Fire HD is no chump but it just doesn't stand out as much. Now in our own CNET video playback drain test, the Nook HD gave us 7.3 hours of video playback with Wi-Fi turned off and the Kindle Fire HD gave us 5.3 hours of battery life but increased to 6.6 hours when using Amazon prime streaming. Day-to-day battery use will always fluctuate depending on your usage. So in the final round, the Nook HD gets a 3.3 and the fire HD gets 2.7. So let's average out all 5 rounds and in the battle between these two rivals, the latest software updates in the Nook HD makes all the difference and it takes this prizefight 3.7 to 3.4 and is your prizefight winner. Now the decision still isn't clear cut because if you're someone that truly lives in the Amazon ecosystem, the Kindle Fire HD makes sense for you and were expecting a refresh soon. But it's the evolution of the Nook HD that has convinced our judges it's a new man but it also might be too late with new 7-inch tablets on their way. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching, and we'll catch you guys next week for another prizefight.

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