It’s safe to say that Android tablets were always playing catching up to Apple’s iPad, but with the release of two incredible tablets, Android have slowly started getting a foothold in the tablet market. The original Kindle Fire was a clear step up for Android tablets, and although it didn’t set the world alight, it offered users a real alternative to the iPad.

Fast forward 12 months and we now have two new contenders for the crown. Google’s Nexus 7 has been out for a few months, but has already cemented itself as the premier Android tablet, offering good specs at a impulse purchase price. Its main competition for Android supremacy will now come from Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD. A similar device in many ways, but also one that caters for a different audience entirely.

We’ve had a good read of both device’s specs and put together a head-to-head to determine which tablet is better. Which side are you on?

Design and build

The 7″ Kindle Fire HD has been given a complete overhaul from its predecessor, with Amazon intent on making the tablet sleeker and lighter than before. The IPS LCD screen has been bumped up to 1280×800, and includes new technology to help lower glare and improve viewing angles. Similarly, the  7″ Nexus 7 includes a 1280×800 IPS LCD screen, but is ever so slightly lighter than its competition. Both tablets include the rather bland black rectangular design, and include similar ports, apart from the Fire HD having HDMI connectivity, whereas the Nexus 7 doesn’t.

Speed, processor and memory

One of the best things about the Nexus 7 is what’s powering it. The quad-core Tegra 3 processor is an absolute beast, and has no trouble in multi-tasking apps and watching videos. The Kindle Fire HD isn’t as powerful, but still includes a nifty dual-core OMAP processor. With so much attention now being on cloud storage, both devices offer full access to their respective cloud services. The cheaper Fire HD includes 16GB of non-expandable internal storage, with access to Amazon Cloud also included. On the other hand, the cheaper Nexus 7 includes 8GB of non-expandable storage, but access to Google Drive.

Features and user interface

Thankfully, both tablets are pretty up-to-date with the OS they’re running. The Nexus 7 runs Android 4.1, whereas the Fire HD runs a heavily-skinned version of Android 4.0. Both devices include a front-facing camera, so Skype users will be more than happy with both devices, even though taking photos with a tablet is still awkward. The Nexus 7 includes NFC compatibility, but we were a little disappointed to find that the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t.

Ecosystem

The biggest difference between the two devices is entirely in their ecosystem. The Kindle Fire HD is designed to showcase every area of the Amazon store. Books, magazines, movies are all at your fingertips, and with the Kindle technology included, the choice of books is unmatched. People who want to fill their device out with apps might be a little disappointed, however, with the Fire HD only offering access to their own Amazon Appstore which currently only holds 60,000 apps, compared to Google Play’s massive 400,000. The Nexus 7 benefits from the full Google experience throughout, but the Play Movies and Play Books sections aren’t as thorough as Amazon’s offering.

Price and availability

Both tablets can be bought for under £200 depending on which model you plump for. The Nexus 7 has two variants, with the 8GB costing £159 and the 16GB costing £199. We were ecstatic to see that the Fire HD will offer a little more bang for your buck, however, with the 16GB version costing £159 and the 32GB version costing £199. The Nexus 7 is currently available from the Play Store, whereas the Fire HD is currently available to pre-order from the Amazon storefront.

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It’s fantastic to see two Android tablets really making a name for themselves in the tablet market, and although we’ve only seen the specs for the Fire HD, we’re positive if it’s in the same league as the original Fire, it’s going to be a great tablet. Which ever tablet you choose between these two, you’re set to get a great experience. The Nexus 7 excels with its power, speed, and the Google backing, but the Kindle Fire HD has a more thorough ecosystem, especially for the readers amongst you.

The winner? We’ll let you decide.

(Full head-to-head after release of Fire HD)