With its Kindle Fire 7, Amazon has created a cheap entryway into its ecosystem of Kindle e-books and Prime shopping. For $50 -- or sometimes as low as $30 -- the Fire is as much a marketing vehicle as it is a tablet, made all the more transparent by the company tacking on "special offers" as a standard feature unless you pay more to remove them.
It's a strategy that's worked extremely well, with book-selling rival Barnes & Noble continually attempting to reproduce it with its Nook devices. Unfortunately for B&N, Nook tablets have never generated the heat of the Fire, leading to all kinds of issues for the company. Nonetheless, the bookseller has kept the Nooks coming, launching its first $49.99 Fire competitor a couple of years ago, and introducing a new version yesterday.
Like the Fire 7, the latest Nook is a 7-inch Android slate with 1,024x600 IPS display, 7 hours of battery life, and easy access to Barnes & Noble's e-book offerings. It offers two advantages over its Amazon competition: twice the built-in storage for the price (16GB versus 8GB) and no built-in ads. To get an equivalent Fire 7 version would set you back $84.99.
On the other hand, the 7-inch Nook obviously doesn't have Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant enabled as the latest Fire tablets do. It also doesn't offer the additional color choices of the Fire 7, though hardcore book readers might not be concerned with carrying around a canary yellow tablet.
As proven time and time again, the Nook is never going to be a major player in the tablet market, which has already peaked anyway. But for those who are looking for an alternative to Amazon's dominance, Barnes & Noble hopes they (finally) take a long look at the Nook as the device to read their e-books.