2011 Holiday Gift Guide: Nook Tablet And Kindle Fire Accessories That Are Must-Have

These new e-reader-tablet hybrids are shaping up to be the hottest gifts of this year. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is flying off both virtual and real-world shelves and Barnes & Noble has offered up a worthy opponent in the form of its Nook Tablet. But even at their relatively low prices, these e-readers might still be a bit pricey.

That’s why we’ve laid out some of the best accessories for the technologically advanced bookworm in your life.

By the way, if you’re on the hunt for some sweet accessories of the e-ink, e-reader persuasion, stay tuned. We’ll give those their own moment in the sun.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Best Case:

As Matt so eloquently explained earlier today, you want your ereader case to do more than just protect your gadgetry. Sure, durability is important. But so is style, especially if the one you love is toting around the hottest ereader on the market. That said, the DODOcase for Kindle Fire is about as awesome as it gets. It’s made using traditional book-binding techniques and sports a bamboo frame and fold-over flap. You can even take it a step further and have this bad boy monogrammed.

At a cool $45 price-point, this is certainly the case to consider when holiday shopping for your Fiery friend.

But perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more mature. Maybe leather (or something like it)? I’ve got just the thing. Proporta has a slick little (almost) leather pouch for the Kindle Fire that is sure to make your loved one feel like Ron Burgundy, smelling of leather-bound books and rich mahogany… Sorry, got a tad carried away. In any case, the Proporta “Leather Style” Cover is made from “the finest quality alternative to leather” (thus the whole “style” bit in the name), and has a nice protective lining to shield from bumps.

Priced at $26.95, the Proporta Leather Style Case for Kindle Fire is a “compelling and rich” option.

The thing about the Fire that makes it so great is that it’s nearly a full-functioning tablet. You can watch movies, play apps, and browse the web just like you would on full-fledged tablet. With that in mind, Marware has a pretty sleek Kindle Fire case that can act as a kickstand for you (or your loved one’s) Fire should the two of you decide to cuddle up and watch a holiday flick. Made of genuine leather, the CEO Hybrid case also features a strap along the back which will allow users to hold the Fire with one hand, even with the added bulk of the case.

Not far off from the DODOcase, the Marware CEO Hybrid will cost you $44.99.

Best Apps:

As I just mentioned, the Kindle Fire’s access to the Amazon Appstore for Android is one of its biggest selling points. I’m actually convinced that what the world needs now is apps, not love. Still, it’d be a mistake to forget the Kindle history behind the Fire.

It’s an ereader just as much as it’s a tablet, and with that said it’s only fair to put Audible for Android at the top of the list. Audible for Android offers up a wider selection of audiobooks, though it will cost around $15 a month (which includes one free book a month) in order for use of the app to be worthwhile.

Gamers will enjoy the Fire just as much as bookworms, which means it’s only fair that we include our favorite Fire-compatible game in the gift guide. Plants vs. Zombies has been around for a while on a number of different platforms, but the special Fire edition is pretty sick. The extra screen real estate really takes this now-famous tower defense game to a new level. And for $3.00, it’s probably one of the cheapest gifts you can get that will still get a genuine thank you.

The 7-inch backlit display on the Fire makes it a great option for video playback, but I had trouble landing on which video streaming app to recommend. Therefore, I’m throwing out Netflix and Hulu Plus. Both services (not the apps themselves) are paid, and while Netflix doesn’t require Wifi the same way Hulu Plus does, that won’t really make a difference on the WiFi-only Kindle Fire. So really, it all comes down to whether your a Hulu Plus person or a Netflix person.

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Best Cases:

The Nook Tablet is a tad more flashy than the Fire, and I usually like to dress up louder designs with more subtle cases. It’s all about balance, people. So when searching for the very best Nook Tablet cases, Speck’s new FitFolio case for the Nook Tablet instantly came to mind. The case combines a precision-molded hard shell case with padded microsuede lining to offer up the ruggedness you need while still feeling comfortable in the hand. In black, the FitFolio case quiets the Nook Tablet’s multi-tonal coloring. However, if that’s the whole reason you got the Nook Tablet you’ll be glad to know that the FitFolio comes in much louder blue and purple flavors.

Speck’s FitFolio case for the Nook Tablet will go for an easy $29.95.

I’d be worried if you had already forgotten that Proporta Leather Style case for the Kindle Fire. Well, after perusing through Nook Tablet cases I have something much more Ron Burgandy for our B&N fans. Etsy, our favorite platform for artists, inventors and creators of all types to sell their wares, has a beautiful wooden Nook Tablet case that I simply couldn’t resist. From the product page: “This beautiful case is made from a wood known as Sapelle which is similar to mahogany.” Mahogany! Yep, this one’s for the anchorman in all of us, especially with that brass buckle. There are also thick felt pads along the inside to keep your Nooky poo safe.

You can pick this guy up for $60 at Etsy.com.

No one has more Nook Tablet case offerings than Barnes & Noble, of course, but the one that seems to catch my eye most is the Tasume. It has two flaps that fold over the front, but can also fold back to offer that same kick-stand functionality we were seeing on Marware’s CEO Hybrid for the Fire. The rather flexible flaps are secured to the back with magnets, making it easy to prop up your Nook Tablet in both portrait and landscape.

Hit up Barnes & Noble’s website and you’ll find the Tasume ready and waiting for a mere $49.95.

Best Apps:

While the Nook Tablet’s app selection doesn’t really compete with that of Amazon’s, I’m finding that just about every one of the Nook apps seem to be high-quality and useful.

A few, however, are absolutely essential, the first of which being Evernote. We all know it (or at least should), we all love it, and there really isn’t a better note-taking app out there. You can jot down notes, pictures, save audio clips and upload images, all of which can be organized into notebooks.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

As far as news consumption goes, I’m really digging Taptu – DJ Your News.

The app lets you customize your news based on the feeds you love, and even lets you put together your own stream of curated news, which can then be shared on the various social networks. The interface is super clean and it offers thousands of news sources for the news junkie in all of us.

Taptu is also free on the Nook Tablet.

Facebook does this cool thing where, even though it’s the most popular social network in the world and one of the most visited sites of all time, they don’t mind waiting a while before launching the Facebook app for a new device. The Nook Tablet is a victim, just like the iPad was. But alas, FriendCaster for Facebook may just do the trick. The app is a perfectly suitable alternative to an official Facebook app, and even lets you pin chat convos to stay connected while using other apps.

Unfortunately, FriendCaster for Facebook is a paid app, but $1.99 is a small price to pay for solid Facebook access on your new tablet.

For some extra inspiration on all things gifty, check out the rest of our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide here.