Barnes and Noble has been in the book selling business for quite a long time, even before the widespread use of the Internet, but the newcomer Amazon store basically overtook them in every aspect, including the number of books they feature and the number of sales they make, which left Barnes and Noble in quite a tough spot.
Obviously, they had to do something, and aside from improving their online store to compete with Amazon’s on website, they also released the Nook Color in response to the Kindle e-reader. The Nook Color is a better reader in many ways, including its color touch screen and Android OS, which is locked down but still allows people to do more than just read eBooks and pre-processed articles.
And right after Amazon released their new Kindle Fire, B&N announced the Nook Tablet, which is a direct competitor and basically an unlocked and slightly upgraded Nook Color. It’s a bit funny, because the modding community already succeeded at making the Nook Color a full-fledged Android tablet by gaining root access and installing all the missing packages, and now Barnes and Noble are basically releasing an official version. But regardless of who did it first, the Nook Tablet looks pretty appealing, and will definitely make you think twice about purchasing the Kindle Fire, or any other tablet for that matter.
On the outside, the new Nook Tablet looks pretty much the same as the Nook Color, except that it’s slightly thicker and heavier, but that’s not noticeable in everyday use. The display is also noticeably better – it has better viewing angles and higher brightness, which is always a welcome improvement. The resolution and size stay the same at 1024×600 pixels spread across 7 inches. Build quality is just as good as the Color, with the body being made out of metal, with a sturdy back cover and an industrial finish that looks pretty attractive.
The big improvements are on the inside – the Nook Tablet features a new dual core TI OMAP processor, with a full gigabyte of RAM to back it up. Compared to the Kindle Fire’s 8 GB of inbuilt storage space (with 6 GB available to the user), the new Nook has a full 16 GB (~14 GB available for the user), as well as a micro SD card slot that can be used for adding up to 32 GB more – If you need to store more than ~6 GB of files (and on a tablet, that should fill up pretty quickly), you can see which one is the best choice.
Obviously, the tablet has a Wifi adapter, but sadly there’s no Bluetooth, GPS or 3G connectivity, plus the must-have-on-a-mobile-device camera is missing as well, which may be a deal breaker for someone looking for a universal tablet. But as an eBook reader that doubles as a Web browser, document editor, video/music player, the Nook Tablet is pretty good.
The Android 2.3 OS that comes pre-installed has a few limitations and the custom skin, but you can run any apps you like, and you have full access to the browser, which is more than you could say for the Nook Color.
The price is a bit higher than its competitor from Amazon – at $249, the Nook Tablet is a full $49 more expensive than the Kindle Fire, but the overall increase in performance and the number of features should more than make up for that. I’m guessing the new Nook will give the Kindle a run for its money for sure.