The Amazon Kindle Fire launched this year, only to be met by direct competition in the form of the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble. While neither of these tablet devices is going to be eating into the iPad`s market share, they are arguably going head to head, so it makes sense to review them in tandem to see which is worth buying.

The Amazon Kindle Fire features a seven inch touchscreen display with a native resolution of 1024×600, which is almost identical to the screen which you will find on the Nook Tablet. The dual core processors of each device are both clocked at 1GHz, but the Nook Tablet has the advantage when it comes to RAM with 1GB compared to the 512MB allocated to Amazon`s tablet. The Nook also has twice as much internal storage, with 16GB onboard and the option to expand via microSD memory card as opposed to the Kindle Fire`s limited 8GB allocation.

From an aesthetic point of view the Amazon Kindle Fire is definitely the more businesslike of the two with its all-black finish and slender build. The Nook Tablet is slightly more colourful and quirky, with a rounded plastic chassis and even a little eyelet in the bottom left hand corner, the purpose of which is not immediately obvious.

Both Amazon and its competitor have chosen to use Android 2.3 as the base operating system for these tablets. Tablet fans will know that this is actually Google`s mobile-specific platform rather than its tablet oriented software, but with both devices featuring heavily customised user interfaces it is unlikely that you will feel like you are using an oversized smartphone.

The Kindle Fire has an interface which revolves around Amazon`s various services and stores, allowing you to easily access and download books, videos and music direct to the device. It also uses the Amazon Silk browser to deliver fast web access, although like the Nook Tablet it is limited to Wi-Fi connectivity so there is no 3G for more free-roaming internet provision.

The typical selection of games and applications are available on both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, although Barnes & Noble could have the edge when it comes to streaming thanks to the partnership with Netflix and Hulu Plus. For fans of casual gaming the news that Angry Birds is a feature of both tablets is sure to be significant, although you may well have spent enough time tackling those evil pigs on other touchscreen devices by this point.

The battle between the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire will ultimately come down to content. There is a small price difference, but both devices expect the user to contribute more of their cash to pay for books, movies, TV shows and other premium bits and pieces in order to partially subsidise the low cost of getting this well specified gadgets. While neither will replace dedicated portable media players in the short term, these affordable tablets could well cause a sea change in the industry over the coming years.