Is There Anything This $199 Tablet Can't Do?

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The battle for supremacy in entry-level tablets keeps getting more and more interesting.

When Barnes & Noble (NYS: BKS) introduced its $249 Nook Tablet earlier this week, the superstore chain tried to play up the reasons why gadget seekers would be willing to pay $50 more for its device than for Amazon.com's (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire.

The Nook Tablet features double the RAM and initial storage capacity of the Kindle Fire. It also comes preloaded with streaming apps for Netflix (NAS: NFLX) , Hulu Plus, and Pandora (NYS: P) .

Did we really think that Amazon was going to let B&N have all of the fun? The leading online retailer revealed this morning that the Kindle Fire won't be restricted to Amazon's own massive ecosystem of digital media. Making the most of its Android roots, Amazon's tablet will also have access to thousands of vetted Android games and apps.

If the 18 million movies, TV shows, music tracks, books, and magazines available digitally from Amazon aren't enough, the Amazon Appstore is there for countless third-party diversions.

This morning's announcement singles out dozens of apps and developers that are on board. Social-gaming leaders Zynga and Electronic Arts (NAS: ERTS) are there. Beyond Netflix and Pandora, official apps for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (NYS: LNKD) are available.

The consensus all along has been that the Kindle Fire and now the Nook Tablet won't be a threat to Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPad. But is that still true now that most of the more popular applications available on the $499 iPad 2 are now just as available on touchscreen tablets that are slightly smaller but cost less than half as much?

Amazon and B&N will open up the market to new tablet users who weren't comfortable springing $500 or more for a portable leisure gadget. However, as third-party developers take over both iOS and Android devices, will price now become the driving factor?

This will be an interesting holiday season indeed.

If you want to follow this saga, track the latest news by addingBarnes & NobleandAmazon.comto My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Netflix.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Netflix subscriber and shareholder since 2002. He does not own shares in any of the other stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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