Maybe it was due to budget constraints, timing or some other reason, but without any hoopla or press event, Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest brick and mortar book seller, announced the latest two devices in their popular Nook line. A 7-inch Nook HD (starting at $199) and larger, 9-inch Nook HD+ (starting at $269).
B&N says that customers can begin to pre-order the new Nooks starting today and that these Kindle Fire alternatives will be available at both Target and Walmart, unlike Amazon’s latest offering. Let’s talk about what you get with these new Nooks. The Nook HD, the smaller and cheaper of the two, is a 7-inch tablet with a display resolution of 1440×900, with equates to about 243ppi, not to shabby as it’s higher than both the 7-inch Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, it can also offer true HD playback at 720p. On top of the display is a laminated coating, which provides better clarity and reduces the amount of glare on the screen. Inside, you’ll find a dual-core TI OMAP 4470 processor clocked at 1.3GHz and 1GB of RAM. While the Nook HD starts at $199 for 8GB of storage, for an extra $30, you can upgrade to the 16GB model ($229). It’s also lighter than both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, coming in at just 11.1oz, giving the Nook another bragging point. As for the HD+ model, this device is for the consumption user, whereas the Nook HD is primarily targeted to the e-reader crowd. The HD+ model sports a larger 9-inch display (bigger than the Kindle Fire’s HD 8.9-inch) and features a crisp resolution of 920×1280 and the same laminated coating. Like the regular Nook HD, the HD+ features 1GB of RAM and the same OMAP 4470 processor, but the clock speed has been bumped up to 1.5GHz. If 16GB of storage isn’t enough for you, after all this is the media lover’s device, you can snag a 32GB option for only $299.
Both tablets feature a new carousel UI, which is brighter and cleaner than that found on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. B&N decided to once again use Android at the Nook’s base and both the Nook HD and Nook HD+ are layered on top of Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (so much for a Windows RT Nook). Regardless of the device, B&N promises 10 hours of reading and 9 hours of video per (full) charge. To help make the device a little sweeter to consumers, B&N is also offering Nook Video, which gives users access to TV and Movies to help combat Amazon’s Prime service. Despite using the latest version of Android, like the Kindle Fire, the Nook HD and HD+ won’t allow access to the Google Play Store, instead, users will be forced to stick with B&N’s store. While it may not have the massive selection of Google’s store or even Amazon’s AppStore, it has definitely grown since it was started and B&N ensures developers that bring Android apps to their market requires very little work.
It remains to be seen how B&N fairs in this battle with Amazon and Apple when it comes to tablet market share. B&N does brag that their tablets don’t come with ads, but do with come an actual AC adapter for plugging into a wall socket, instead of a computer, an obvious swipe at Amazon, which it also bests in terms of raw specs. They also remain a cheaper alternative to Apple’s iPad, only sacrificing specs here and there, and of course in the apps department, but at their price point, it may not be a hard sell to some thrifty consumers.