The Amazon Kindle Fire‘s relatively low $200 price tag may be partially due to Amazon’s hopes that customers will buy eBooks, music, and movies from Amazon to help shore up the bottom line. But it looks like Kindle Fire users won’t have to use Amazon’s digital store to get their digital media fix.
Earlier this week Amazon announced that Netflix, Pandora, and other online video and music apps would be available in the Amazon Appstore when the Kindle Fire ships. Today the company has added Hulu Plus and ESPN apps to the mix.
In other words, you can pay $79 per year to get an Amazon Prime membership and stream videos from Amazon’s collection. Or you can pay $7.99 per month to use Netflix or the same price for a Hulu Plus subscription and watch videos from those companies’ much larger (at least for now) video streaming libraries
The Kindle Fire’s closest competitors are probably the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet and the older NOOK Color tablet. Both of these devices will also offer Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and other digital media applications. But neither will have access to the Amazon MP3 music store or Amazon’s services for renting or purchasing movies and TV shows.
On the other hand, while the NOOK Tablet costs $50 more than the Kindle Fire, it has more storage than the Kindle Fire, twice the RAM, an SD card slot for expansion, and a built-in microphone.
It’s not exactly easy to decide which tablet is the better deal. If you’re looking for an all-purpose tablet and couldn’t care less about digital media, the NOOK might be the way to go… but if you’re already a fan of Amazon’s digital book, music, and movie services, the $200 Kindle Fire looks like a pretty great deal — especially since it doesn’t look like Amazon is going to block companies from offering users apps that compete with some of Amazon’s own offerings.