Two years ago, I spent some hard-earned Census money and bought myself a Nook Color, mostly because I wanted a quick and handy way to check my email and do other online stuff without hauling a laptop with me or having to leave the comfort of my bed.
In 2010, the Nook Color cost $250. I was, overall, disappointed with my Nook. That is mainly my fault because I wanted it to be what it wasn't, which was a tablet.
It is a fine e-reader: it holds lots and lots of books (music too), and I really like that it has a slot where you can insert an SD card for even more storage, but its processing speed for loading webpages is somewhere between "Oh, come ON!" and "Jesus Christ, it shouldn't take you that long to load Gmail". It also has a barely-adequate battery: make the screen too bright (necessary in sunny or brightly-lit areas) and you've just halved your battery life. Worse still is when you turn on the wireless antenna -- you can almost watch the battery indicator tick down on a minute-by-minute basis.
Also, its onscreen keyboard is Teh Suxx0r (its buttons are too small and they frequently don't register that I pressed them, or assume I pressed another button next to it -- yes, even using a stylus) and it won't, to the best of my knowledge, charge while plugged into a PC.
Oh, and its ability to read PDFs is... well, let's just say "in name only" and leave it at that.
Last December, mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Other than the Season One DVD of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I had no idea what I wanted. I would have settled for an Amazon gift card but mom is a big believer in tangible gifts for Christmas, so I just shrugged and said "I dunno."
A couple weeks later, the Kindle Fire went on sale: formerly $160, it was now $130. Mom showed the Amazon page to me, and after reading how it was optimized for web surfing and watching YouTube videos, I said "Sure, why not."
I love my Kindle Fire. It's slightly smaller and lighter than my Nook, so I can use the same sleeve for carrying it around. It is all-around faster: faster interface, faster download speed, faster processing, faster playback.
(Insert obligatory pun about the Fire being "blazing fast" here.)
The Kindle Fire is everything I wanted from my Nook Color: The battery charges while hooked to a computer, charges faster and lasts longer; the onscreen keyboard is larger and more responsive; it has native support for PDFs; I can check my email, do Facebook, watch YouTube and surf the web like a boss. It can use most Android apps, and whatever I purchase on the Amazon store is almost instantly delivered to my Fire.
It does everything I wanted an iPad for, at one-fifth the price. However... it's not a great e-reader.
For one thing, I cannot get my PC (which runs Windows XP) to acknowledge that the Kindle is a storage device. It wants a driver which did not come with the Fire and I cannot seem to find online. This means that, despite having a huge library of free e-books in both .epub and .mobi, I cannot transfer them to my Kindle Fire; I have to go through the store for every single one of them. I have checked both Amazon and The Googles for a driver, and so far I haven't had any luck in that regard.
Also, storage is an issue. My Nook has 5 gigs onboard storage, and the ability to hold an SD card of whatever volume I buy (I currently have an 8 gig card, but I know that there are 12 gig cards available, and probably larger ones too). I could, if I wanted, fill up card after card with ebooks and mp3s and other things.
My Kindle Fire has 5.5 gigs onboard storage, and no way to improve that. Sure, I have access to the Amazon Cloud, but that's only if I have a wifi connection - it hardly counts if I need it on an airplane or in a cellular dead zone. And like I said earlier, I can't put my public domain e-books onto it without going through the store. Ugh.
So despite there being two years of technological improvements between them, the Kindle Fire is unfortunately not superior in every way. Instead of an upgrade, it is (for me at least) a parallel development: the Kindle Fire is my tablet for surfing the web, and my Nook Color is my dedicated e-reader.
I know the whole prepper philosophy is "Two is one, and one is none" but extending it to e-readers is just a little silly, don't you think?