The Kindle Fire HD is out now, and it's plenty great. But given the choice between Amazon's latest and greatest and the power packed Nexus 7, which should you choose? Here's your guide for picking the cheap-but-awesome tablet you should get.
For just watching some movies or reading some books
This is about as open and shut as you can get. The Kindle's IPS screen is gorgeous, and makes reading books or watching video wonderful. And the onboard speakers on the Kindle Fire HD make lying down with your tablet to watch a movie actually decent, as opposed to the tiny, one-sided speaker on the Nexus 7. And the easy access to Amazon's incredibly robust ecosystem makes getting content to your device a breeze.
The Fire HD also has an HDMI-out port; it's a pretty nice perk to be able to just plug right into your TV or monitor. All around, if you're just looking at or listening to stuff, the Kindle Fire HD is the way to go.
Just chilling on the couch? Buy a... Kindle Fire HD
For someone on a tight budget
Unlike the decision to buy one of these tablets or an iPad, there's no clear right answer. The inclination might be to jump for the Kindle, since it gives you more storage for less cash. And that's a good bet, sure. Buuuut you might want to consider the Nexus 7 if you're really tight on cash, given Android's proclivity to allow certain cost-cutting methods. Jelly Bean has cleaned up a lot Google's piracy problem, but that doesn't rule out the loads of emulators and other stuff just not available in Amazon's app store.
Cheapskates should get a... Nexus 7
For a present to give to your parents
The Kindle HD, for a few reasons. First it's a de-fanged version of Android. That's a good thing for most of our parents (and honestly for most everybody). They won't care as much as you might that they can't fiddle with bluetooth-toggling widgets, or whatever. The other thing? Old folks don't mind paying for stuff as much as you do. And Amazon makes it very, very easy to pay for stuff.
As a whole, the Kindle Fire HD is a super parent-friendly device. Especially if it's as hack-resistant as we think it could be. And if you're a parent yourself, the Free Time feature that allots time for given activities for when your kids are using it is pretty nice, too.
Mom and dad should have a... Kindle Fire HD
For students looking for a cheap laptop replacement
Tablets are generally luxury items, but they're getting to the point where you can legitimately use them to (mostly) replace a computer for day-to-day stuff. Kind of. If you really want to take a run at spending a couple hundred bucks on a tablet to get you through the school year, your best bet is the Nexus 7. You're going to need the full compliment of Android features and customizability and Google Docs to get anything done.
Of course, writing a term paper isn't going to be very fun on either, so you should maybe take a look at a cheapo Chromebook instead.
Students just using a tablet should buy a... Nexus 7
For business travelers
This one's easy. If you're traveling for business, and you're actually expecting to conduct any of that business from your tablet, you want the Nexus 7. The Fire HD can send email and work your calendars and generally do most of what you need it do, but it can't with the elegance and efficiency of stock Android. It's not even close.
It's not just the clumsiness of the Fire HD's enterprise attempts, it's the general smoothness of everything. The triple-buffered homescreen makes Jelly Bean seem to fly, while Amazon's carousel UI seems to load like a sack full of rocks at times. That's a crucial difference when you've got to a lot of things, and do them quickly.
Respectable (tired, rundown, overworked) businessmen should get a... Nexus 7
For the mobile gamer
The Nexus, no question. Amazon's got some good games in its app store, but it's missing a lot of the big ones. Mobile gaming isn't the only thing on a tablet, but if your morning commute is made up of more zombie headshots than middle-aged S&M romantic ebooks, the Nexus 7 is probably for you.
Hardcore tablet gamers should get a... Nexus 7
For those who like to tinker
Tossup! If you're a nerdy ol' power user, you might not mind rooting and ROMing the Fire HD once there's a stable build out there for it. In that case, hey, you've got a gorgeous tablet that you can load up stock Android on and go to town. That said, maybe you'd prefer to stick with the quad core Tegra 3 over the TI OMAP dual core processor in the HD. Or maybe you like to tinker with apps and widgets and such, but would rather stay on Google's homegrown Jelly Bean build instead of leaving your fate in the hands of modders.
Tinkerers should... follow their hearts