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Google Nexus 7 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire HD: Which Tablet Is Worth Your $199?

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By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

Amazon is on fire. The Seattle-based giant recently refreshed its popular Kindle Fire tablet, introducing a small army of new Kindle Fires ranging from the 7" Kindle Fire HD for $199 to the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD for $299. (The latter even has a 4G LTE option for $499.)

And while competition is great for the consumer, more selection can potentially complicate your tablet purchase, now that you have two very strong mainstream 7" tablets battling for your $199. Below we compare the Google Nexus 7 to Amazon's latest 7" Kindle Fire HD to find out which tablet is king of the $199 price point.

The Nexus 7 Prevails with a Better CPU

Make no mistake, the Google Nexus 7 is still one of the best tablets money can buy. It won praise from various tech outlets, and as you can see from the chart above, it manages to beat the Kindle Fire HD in one important category — processor speed. You may think CPU speed is unimportant in this day and age, but the fact is that the Nexus 7's quad-core Tegra 3 processor makes for a much smoother experience when streaming HD content, playing games, or multitasking.

By comparison, Engadget has already reported some noticeable lag during their initial hands-on with the Kindle Fire HD. To be fair though, it was just that — an initial hands-on experience, and not a full review. Nevertheless, the Fire's dual-core CPU could potentially prove weaker than the Nexus' quad-core CPU, which has already impressed the folks at CNET.

One other advantage to the Nexus 7 is that it's not ad-subsidized, whereas the entire new Kindle Fire line incorporates ads. Amazon conveniently didn't mention ads during the announcement, but PC Mag and other outlets pointed out the new feature. This might have inspired Amazon to announce over the weekend that it will let users opt out of the ads for an additional $15.

The Fire HD Has Better Tech but the SD Is Cheaper

Excluding the CPU and the ads, the Kindle Fire HD packs much better tech than the Nexus 7, including double the storage space (the Kindle Fire HD starts at 16GB), micro HDMI, and dual-band WiFi for faster streaming. (Amazon claims streaming content on the Kindle Fire HD is 54% faster than streaming from the Google Nexus 7.) And while it doesn't run a pure version of Android, you can rest assured that the Kindle's OS was designed to work flawlessly with Amazon's ecosystem, where you can purchase eBooks, apps, movies, and MP3s with the tap of a button. But Amazon has one more trick up its sleeve: the Kindle Fire SD.

Priced at an unprecedented $159 (that's $10 under our July prediction), the Kindle Fire SD is the least expensive mainstream tablet we've seen. And this is no rehash; the Kindle Fire SD received some updates including 40% faster performance, double the memory of the original Kindle Fire, and better battery life. This tablet is best suited for first-time buyers who don't want to invest too much on a tablet.

Whatever You Do, Don't Buy Now

So which tablet offers the best value for your money? Your best bet right now is to wait and see. Kindle Fire HD reviews will be hitting the web soon and then we'll know for sure how its dual-core processor performs. Furthermore, we wouldn't be surprised to see a Kindle Fire HD bundle in the next coming weeks via Amazon's Local Deals, or perhaps even a Kindle Fire HD with an Amazon credit.

However, the biggest reason to hold off on buying a new tablet is Apple. The iPad maker is expected to announce an iPad Mini come mid October. Although the iPad mini is expected to retail at $249, its announcement could trigger a string of price cuts on today's $199 tablets. Should the iPad Mini turn out to be vaporware, Microsoft is expected to unleash its Windows 8 tablets on or around October 26. Combined, all this tablet competition is putting pressure on retailers and manufacturers and that means one thing — deals. And that's just what every tablet shopper wants to hear.




An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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