or Kindle Fire?
That's the question that's already bedeviling consumers and gadget aficionados alike.
In a matter of weeks, it seems, the tablet market has been compressed to just a handful of choices. The iPad 2 still rules the high end ($500 and above), but the "e-reader as tablet" option now looms large in the sub-$250 range, with the $199 Kindle Fire going mano a mano with the $249 Nook Tablet.
The Kindle Fire has just started shipping, and the Nook Tablet will follow as soon as tomorrow (a few days earlier than originally expected).
Last year, Barnes & Noble released the Nook Color at the same $249 price. Back then, a 7-inch color e-reader that could run apps as well as read color books and magazines, and even play movies and music, was a revelation. The Android tablet could even be rooted--to many, it became known as the not-so-secret most-affordable Android tablet around with the best design (other similarly priced and more-generic Android tablets are, by comparison, terrible).
With the Fire on the horizon, Barnes & Noble knew it had to up the ante.… Read more