November 30, 2011, 11:43 AM

Amazon and Barnes & Noble light new fires in the tablet wars

Amazon and Barnes & Noble light new fires in the tablet wars.

Lead Photo

Just before Thanksgiving weekend, and just days after Inc. began selling its new Kindle Fire tablet computer, bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. planned to launch its own tablet and enter the fray for the loyalty of tablet-loving consumers.

The bookseller announced last month that its Nook Tablet, a 7-inch mobile device with built-in access to the Barnes & Noble online store, would be available Nov. 18, just days after Amazon began shipping the Fire on Nov. 14. Both retailers hope to lure consumers with a more affordable tablet than Apple Inc.'s iPad. The Nook Tablet at $249 and the Kindle Fire at $199 undercut the $499 price of the least expensive iPad 2.

Front and center in the Nook Tablet's offering is Barnes & Noble's digital content, consisting of e-books, interactive magazines, children's picture books and Nook Comics for digital comic books. Additionally, the Nook Tablet will display entertainment content from the Netflix Inc. and Hulu digital video services and offer Pandora, a streaming music service. The Nook Tablet also coincides with Barnes & Noble's expansion into new categories including gifts, toys and baby products.

Tablet details

Amazon's Kindle Fire, announced in September, also has a 7-inch screen, smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad screen. Kindle Fire users who belong to Amazon Prime, Amazon's free shipping and loyalty program, can access videos, now numbering more than 13,000, and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which enables a user to borrow one e-book a month from a pool of 5,000 titles.

While the screen size is the same, the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire differ in ways that may be important for some consumers. Amazon says the Kindle Fire has a maximum battery life of eight hours compared with 11.5 hours claimed by Barnes & Noble for the Nook Tablet. The Kindle Fire has eight gigabytes of built-in storage compared with 16 gigabytes for the Nook Tablet.

Let the tablet wars go on.

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