Amazon appears to be positioning its Kindle Fire lineup of tablets as the Pepsi to Apple's Coke, as John Gruber put it earlier this week. The various iPad models are better made and have more apps, but lack a handful of features and cost a lot more.
Smaller and cheaper
The Nexus 10's 10-inch display puts it ahead of even the iPad's screen size, and the enormous bezels make it wider as well (although it's thinner and lighter than the iPad and right up there with the smaller Kindle). On the other hand, its $399 price point puts it in between the $499 iPad and the $299 Kindle Fire.
While the Nexus 10 is only available in a 16 GB model, though, for $384 you can get an 8.9 inch Kindle Fire with 32 GB of storage and without "special offers" (read: ads). That's still $15 cheaper than the Nexus 10. Amazon has long competed on price, thanks in part to its inhumanely efficient warehousing system, and the Kindle Fire continues to beat its competitors here.
More than ten times fewer apps
As of the time of this writing, there were 56,971 apps in the Amazon "Appstore for Android," the only store Kindle Fire owners can buy their apps from.
Every one of those apps is available on the Nexus 10 and other Android tablets, however, because they can get to the Amazon Appstore too. Meanwhile, according to Ian Sherr and John Letzing of the Wall Street Journal, the Google Play store just reached a total of 700,000 apps, putting it roughly on par with Apple's App Store and many times ahead of the "Appstore."
Not quite that simple?
In reality, many of those "apps" are wallpapers and experiments. Most of the "big name" apps, like Facebook and Evernote, are available on both the Kindle Fire and Google Play. The Appstore's selection and app versions still tend to lag, though, and neither store has many apps designed just for tablets compared to the iPad's selection.
The unique features each offers
Beyond their price tags and raw volumes of apps, each tablet offers unique features. The Nexus 10 lets you personalize your home screens with custom app selections and widgets, while the Kindle Fire uses a "Cover Flow" style carousel. The Kindle Fire lets you stream movies from Amazon Instant Video if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, while the Nexus 10 has the latest Google apps like Google Earth and the Chrome browser.
The biggest ways that the Kindle Fire shows its cheap pricetag? It's packed full of ads, on the lock screen and even in the corner of the homescreen (removing them costs $15 extra), and its slow, laggy performance has been widely panned by reviewers. In contrast, Google's last Nexus tablet benefitted from performance enhancements which made animations and scrolling extremely smooth, and the Nexus 10 should as well.
The 8.9 inch Kindle Fire is available for preorder now, and goes on sale on Nov. 20. The Nexus 10 will be available for purchase on Nov. 13.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.