Are all 7-inch tablets created equal?
About a month ago, I uploaded a video to YouTube comparing the Nook Tablet, the Kindle Fire, and the Nexus 7. I had just received the Nexus and I already had the other tablets so I decided that a comparison would be in order. I reviewed the Nexus in the same project. Yesterday, a user on YouTube responded that it appeared that I was ignoring the Nook Tablet. It got me to thinking about my response to that comment.
Articles on this site. The relative number of articles on this site may suggest where my emphasis is or has been. However, it is subjective due to the ability and/or need to provide my in-depth guidance. Consider how many articles I have on each of the three 7″ tablets:
- In the KINDLE FIRE series, there are 4 articles (covering 10 months of ownership)
- In the NOOK TABLET series, there are 13 articles (over my 6 month ownership)
- In the NEXUS 7 series, there are 5 articles (covering 1.5 months ownership)
As you can see, I wrote a LOT more about the Nook Tablet than I wrote about the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 combined. And, of the 6 months that I owned it, it was bricked for more than two months.
Number of YouTube videos. My newest articles often have related videos on YouTube. So, here is a comparison of those videos:
- Kindle Fire has 15 videos
- Nook Tablet has 15 videos
- Nexus 7 has 4 videos
Time spent on the Comparison Video.The YouTube comment was evidently dealing with the relative amount of time that I spent speaking about each tablet during the comparison. True, I probably did not spend as much time with the NT for several reasons:
- I was excited about the Nexus because I had just received it
- The display on the Nexus and the Fire just made the display on the NT look “washed out”
- I had already given a LOT of video time to the NT
Whatup wid de Nook?
I like the Nook Tablet. I like that it has an SDCard slot (the other two do not). I like that you can boot from an OS located entirely on the SDCard. But, I have problems with the NT.
- The first problem was that B&N produced two identical looking but incompatible devices (8GB & 16GB). The differences were a lot bigger than simply the amount of user storage space. That problem continues to this moment in that developers either do not understand or cannot cope with the 8GB device. Therefore, most of what works fine on the 16GB device fails on the 8GB version (which I have).
- The second problem that I have with the device is that B&N still has not released some of the code needed for developers to create a usable 3.0 kernel. This is essential before the developers can create a stable Jelly Bean ROM for the device. The existing kernels are either based on an old 2.6 (Gingerbread) kernel or a new 3.0 kernel that crashes every few minutes. The KF has a 3.0 kernel that works great and the Nexus ships with that kernel.
- The third problem has to do with quality control in manufacturing. The simple act of turning the device on after a full power off is inconsistent. My 8GB NT works properly but MANY users report that they must “tether” their device with the USB/power cable in order to get it to boot after a full power down. There may be other, similar issues as well.
Have I given up on the Nook Tablet? No, I still produce videos and guides for it. I had planned to produce a new video and guide for installing Jelly Bean on the NT, this week. For an introduction to rooting and descriptions of other options, see our article… Intro to Rooting & Modding Nook Tablet.
Back to the original question, “Are all 7-inch tablets created equal?” To which I would answer a resounding “NO!”
- In the video (and certainly in real life), the display on my Nook Tablet (at 100% brightness) looks terrible compared to the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 (at 80% brightness). It was dim and washed out. Is it still usable? Certainly. I used mine for several months as my primary computing device. Only when I needed to do a lot of touch-typing did I switch to my laptop.
- Although the Nook has an SDCard slot for external storage, Google’s services in the cloud and the new OTG function (see below) have diminished the need for external storage. That was one of my primary concerns when I was ordering the Nexus 7 but now that I have been using the Nexus for several weeks, I find that the SDCard slot is a non-issue.
More important features are MISSING on the Nook Tablet.
- Voice input is a BIG deal (at least for me). During the hurricane, our house phone was out and the AT&T cell phones did not work. My Verizon MiFi gave us an Internet connection and I made and received phone calls on my Nexus 7 with VOIP/mobile using the GrooveIP app. Also, Jelly Bean leverages audio input for many of its newer functions. Granted, the NT does have a mic and SHOULD have audio input but until the kernel is fixed, it will not work.
- GPS should be REQUIRED on all mobile devices now. It adds such a minor amount to the manufacturing cost but devices without it (including the NT) are crippled for many associated functions.
- USB/OTG is the “new” SDCard slot – plus more. The Nexus ships with OTG (On The Go) which converts the USB connector on the device into a USB Host. It allows you to connect a wide selection of USB devices (storage, etc) via the standard MicroUSB connector. It is unclear whether the NT’s hardware will support this function or not.
- Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) is absolutely essential for a tablet of any size.There are many new and exciting features in the newest version of Android. The Nexus 7 ships with Jelly Bean and the Kindle Fire has several custom ROMs that run JB and are very stable. My wife’s KF has been running a custom JB Rom for over a month without any issues. But nothing seems to work well on the Nook Tablet. The NT even has major issues trying to run a custom ICS ROM.
So, is the Nook Tablet dead?
It seems clear that the comment on YouTube was posted by someone who owns an NT. It is uncommon for users to have several devices (such as I do), but that is the VALUE of my posting such a comparison. Since that user owns the NT, they have a vested interest in it. I would too if I were in their shoes.
Is the Nook Tablet dead? NO. If you have an NT, then enjoy it. It is not diminished by the comparison with other devices. It will still do whatever it did before and look just as good. It is also possible that the kernel issues will be resolved and the developers will produce a good working JB ROM for it.
However, if you are in the market for a tablet, then you should be aware of the comparative functions & issues of all the devices. That was – and is – my intention.