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Google Nexus 7 vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD head-to-head review

UPDATED: With identical 7in displays and £159 starting prices, we put these Android-based devices to the test.

Ecosystem and Applications

The sole reason Amazon got into the tablet market was to provide users with direct access to its vast ecosystem. However, Google's no slouch when it comes to providing content.

Google Nexus 7 vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD - Content

Google has introduced its native music and movie service to the UK to accompany the vast range of apps in the Google Play Store.

The best thing about owning a Nexus is that you can still get access to almost all content from Amazon's ecosystem - be it books (via Kindle app) or music (via Amazon MP3 app). The one glaring exception is access to LoveFilm.

Conversely, Kindle Fire HD owners do not have the ability to access the Google Play Store, so in the event Amazon App Store/LoveFilm doesn't have what you're looking for, there is no alternative source directly from the tablet.

Winner Nexus 7

Nexus users have the best of both worlds you can get access most of Amazon's multimedia's content base and the Google Play Store. The only area where the Kindle fire HD has the advantage is with the availability of films and TV shows via LoveFilm.

Stock Android vs Amazon customisation

The Nexus 7 ships with Android Jelly Bean. This is the fully featured version of the mobile OS, and it's free of any resource hungry overlay.

Of course you can customise the software with widgets and apps or even download skins from the Play Store if you want. The choice is yours.

Google Nexus 7 - homescreen

A typical Nexus homescreen can be loaded up with widgets and shortcuts

With the tablet also carrying the Nexus brand name, it will be the first to receive updates, which deliver improved functionality. Google has already pushed out version 4.2, and this is the smoothest running edition of Google's OS to date.

In comparison, Amazon has taken Android and customised it beyond recognition. This modification is understandable as the Kindle Fire HD has been specifically created to allow users to consume content directly from the Amazon's ecosystem.

The lock screen displays an ever-changing product advert, which can be bypassed easily enough - although you can pay 10 extra for the device to get rid of these, it's not really worth it.

The homescreen has a number shortcuts running along the top which give you access to Shop, Games, Apps, Books, Music, Videos, Newsstand, Web, Photos, Docs and Offers.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD - homescreen 1

Amazon takes a more rigid approach to the home screen interface

Beneath the shortcuts, icons are displayed and these relate to the content you have been using so it does give a level of personalisation to the device.

Amazon also includes some unique features. Tapping on a page whilst you are reading brings up X-Ray mode. This finds chapters and locations that mention ideas, characters, and important places, as well as background info, biographies from sources such as Wikipedia.

You can also sync documents with the device via Amazon's Cloud Drive service by either going using a web-based console or emailing them to a Kindle specific email which is created for you.

Winner Nexus 7

Android 4.2 is the best version of the mobile OS to-date. You've got the ability to customise the device, it's easy to navigate and functionality is guaranteed to be improved with updates.

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