For those who don't want a large tablet and don't want to make a lot of hardware sacrifices, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus is a great choice. The Tab 7 Plus ships with a modified version of Honeycomb with a planned Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. Like the Transformer Prime and Xoom, you can use Google apps like Gmail, Google+, and YouTube and have full access to the Android Market. Samsung Galaxy Tabs also allow you to purchase apps through the Amazon Market, Samsung's separate store, or any other third-party app market. You can even run the Kindle and Nook apps on your Galaxy Tab for access to both bookstores at once.
The Nook Tablet is an updated version of the popular Nook Color. It's predecessor became popular for hackers looking for a cheap Android tablet to modify. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet uses a customized version of Android that doesn't run Google apps. The Nook Tablet runs apps purchased from the separate Nook app store. It's meant to be a simple device without extra features like cameras, Bluetooth or GPS, but it does sport a slot for expanded memory through micro SD cards.
Unlike the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet has had longer to perfect their custom Android interface and features better parental controls. However, Barns & Noble has not been as successful in recruiting exclusive book deals or app developers, and Barns & Noble does not directly sell digital videos or music. They do support a variety of third-party apps, such as Netflix and Hulu+, but so does Amazon.The Nook Tablet initially $50 more than the Kindle Fire for a tablet of similar size and processing speed, but they've since released a $199 8GB model. The Nook has a better screen, hard volume buttons, expandable memory, and a microphone, but a lot of the choice may just depend on where you prefer to shop for content.
The Kindle Fire is Amazon's answer to the Nook Color and was release around the same time as the Nook Tablet. The Kindle Fire has the primary advantage of being one of the most inexpensive Android tablets on the market, which was partially achieved by selling it as a loss leader. It's sparked speculation and interest in low cost Android tablets, and it's undoubtedly the reason Barns & Noble recently lowered the price on the Nook to match that of the Kindle Fire. The Fire sacrifices many hardware niceties to keep the price down, including hard volume buttons, cameras, expandable memory, Bluetooth, GPS, and microphones. You won't find any of those in a Kindle Fire, and like the Nook, it is available in Wi-Fi only. There is no option for free cellular data plans as there are for other versions of the Kindle eReader.
The hardware sacrifices don't seem to have made a difference for Kindle fans who are delighted by an inexpensive device they can use to consume Amazon content. Amazon also promotes their device and separate Amazon App Store by offering daily app specials for all users and special streaming content for Amazon Prime subscribers.
However, the tablet was plagued by missing features and hardware problems. It launched originally with 3G access instead of the planned 4G access, and users had to send in their units for upgrades. SD card storage was also initially missing. The Wi-Fi only version was much later to the market but did not require a physical upgrade.