Barnes & Nobile Nook Tablet

If you loved the Nook Color, which quickly went from e-reader status to beloved hacker tablet, you're going to love the new Barnes & Nobile Nook Tablet. And make no mistake, boys and girls: It may be a be an e-reader at its heart. But with beefed up specs, it's got the teeth of a full-fledged tablet.

We took it for a spin this morning at Barnes & Noble's store in Union Square in New York City. At first blush, you might think you're looking at the Nook Color. The exterior design hasn't changed a bit. The power and volume buttons are all in the same places, it's got that iconic Nook button -- it even feels the same, only lighter.

But once the Nook Tablet's 7-inch IPS display comes to life, you know you're dealing with something different. With casual use, the screen was as bright and vibrant, with deep blacks, as we'd expect on something that costs twice as much. And any sort of lag you've been putting up with on the Nook Color is gone. It's got a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM -- plenty for the customized version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread that's at the core of the tablet. The UI was as smooth as you could hope, and video playback was without stutter.

Of course, content is key, and BN's ramped things up with deep Netflix integration -- which Netflix itself tells us is "deeper" than on any tablet before it. Which could just be that your recommendations are fed directly to the UI. There's also tons of music and, of course, reading materials to keep you occupied for days, which is also what you have for battery life. Figure an hour of reading a day, and you'll be going for weeks on a single charge. Or so we're told.

We've still got a ways to go before anyone (outside Barnes & Noble that is) declares the Nook Tablet King of the Winter Carnival. But from even our brief time with it, it's most definitely a contender at $249.

Check out our hands-on pics and video after the break.

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Barnes & Noble Nook TabletBarnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble Nook TabletBarnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble Nook TabletBarnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble Nook TabletBarnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble Nook TabletBarnes & Noble Nook Tablet


Reader comments

Nook Tablet hands-on


Hadn't really thought of this initially, but the microphone is a great perk (at least when comparing this to the Fire). Aside from "read to me" feature where you can record your voice reading a book for your child, once this thing is running ICS or GB for that matter, it's required for some apps.

For one, you can make VOIP calls over wifi using something like Groove IP. Or, you can use apps like IntoNow which, if you haven't used yet, is very cool. It's like Shazam for TV/Movies. Load it up and it shows you content related to what you're watching. Yesterday, while watching some NFL games, I tried using it. In addition to telling me what I was watching, the app showed various game stats. Very neat.

i was interested in its performance though. compared to the Flyer for instance or the Fire. did i miss it in the video hands on? how can you call this a Tablet and not show the browser. Thats atleast 1/2 of what people use Tablets for anyways...

They probably didn't show the browser because the Nook browser has always been sluggish. Maybe it's better on this new device.

Too Heavy.
Battery life too short. B&N always lies about battery life.
Ebook reading provided as an afterthought via the nook app instead of built in.
Everybody has netflix.

HTC flyer is a more versatile device.

This thing trumps the HTC Flyer in many many ways, price and hardware specs especially. Seeing that it is dual core it will eventually have ICS on it from either B&N or through CM. The only tablet in this price range that comes close to the value besides the Kindle Fire is the Archos Gen9 8" tablet that sells for around $269 or so. The HTC Flyer was DOA when it was released and should have it's price adjusted inline with what other low end tablets are selling at, $179 - $199. Otherwise it will never move off of store shelves.

Actually, with my BN Nook Color I've found it to be a reasonable weight for what it is - and battery life with Cyanogen can be up to 3-4 DAYS with regular reader, browsing, and WiFi usage.

Somehow I see Barnes and Noble recognizing that their product has been popularized by the fact that you CAN hack it and increase functionality... This one won't be any different and should be a good contender in the 7" tablet market.

Agreed on the weight issue. I also find the original Galxy Tab 7 to be MUCH more comfortable to hold and use over extended periods than my Nook Color was. Also agree on the battery life. The original Nook Color's battery life was very underwhelming even when using it for just web browsing in stock form.

HTC Flyer is much more versatilte but I hate the hideous white color scheme and the Samsung Tabs are sleeker, thinner, and lighter.
I wonder if we will ever see the official Flyer HC update? I sort of doubt it. All of the BB stores near me are out of stock of $299 Flyers.

I do like the improved screen, expandable storage + 16GB internally and microphone on the new Nook Tablet. And you cannot beat their retail store distribution network and quick availability. I just hope that BT is available and better implemented this time around and this version remains as hacker-friendly. I'd definitely take a Nook Tablet over the Fire if I absolutely had to pick one. My personal preference is to wait on the Xoom 2 8.2" or the Samsung 7.7" Tab.

Nook Tab: 400 grams
HTC Flyer: 420.8 grams

As for the battery I never experienced problems with a short battery life, even before rooting (on the original Nook Color), and I've never read or heard of anyone complaining of poor battery life on a Nook Color either.

I have the Flyer. The screen is terrible -- it has a greenish hue. Also, it's running the phone OS. It's just a big phone interface without the phone. Really nothing special at all. Battery on Flyer is good.

I also have the Flyer and disagree on the screen. I have no green hue on mine. Running phone OS is true but so are the Nook tablet and Fire. IMO it is still a better option because it has the same storage as the Nook tablet and is expandable with SD card. Not to mention the scribe technology and HTC sense on this tablet is awesome. Plus it has the best web browser I've used on a tablet and I've owned a few. Really the only thing the Nook has on it is the screen and dual core, but like someone pointed out the dual core doesn't do much for you unless the app is utilizes it. Plus the Nook is very plain looking and I can't believe they didn't change the look at all from the Nook Color. Then there is the full market on the Flyer compared whatever limited apps are available on the Nook.

So, real question.....did you pop your sd card preimaged with CWR and tried to load CM7 on it yet? THat's what I want to know. Other than a beefed up hardware spec, it should have the same OS build right? TRY THIS PLEASE!

if what think what you said could actually work then by your logic I could load any ROM I wanted on my droid X2 as long as it is specified for the same OS I am using (Android 2.3) Obviously it can't. Different specs require different codes to get things to work. I don't even think the OS has anything to do with it

Does the audio loop at the end of the video while she is showing other things?

It looks good, but I noticed on the page that Hulu and Netflix are going into the B&N app store for the Nook color too. Aside from HD will this work the same as on the Tablet?

How will the over all user interface differ on the two? Compare the two for me soon please.

No, it is single core. However, if apps aren't optimized for dual-core, you don't get a huge performance boost (you still get some boost). So the 1.5Ghz single core in Flyer could match the dual-core 1GHz.

Looks like more market fragmentation. Now if I write a tablet app I need to host it through the Google, Amazon and B&N marketplaces. Though right now I think I would skip B&N as their claim of "over a thousand apps" is not that impressive. Otherwise the specs look good on the new Nook, bit better in many ways then the Kindle Fire. However I am less impressed with the interface overlay and am uninterested in the Netflix integration as I dropped them durring the "troubles". So no regrets over my Fire pre-purchase.

"Now if I write a tablet app I need to host it through the Google, Amazon and B&N marketplaces. Though right now I think I would skip B&N..."

That would be a mistake. So far my sales through B&N have been far higher than through the other markets. I hope that will change once the fire comes out, and that sales through Amazon will pick up.

Would not want this without being able to root and get full blown access to apps, etc. along with the native B&N books/reading capabilities.
However, am I the only person who is fried because this has a Hulu Plus app while I still have to use a workaround or third-party paid solution like Playon to watch my Hulu Plus service on my Transformer and my Google TV (Revue)?

This over the Kindle Fire for one simple reason (although there are many more).

B&N is a bookseller with twice the content of Amazon. Amazon is great, but B&N is better for ebooks.

End of story.

The Nook Tablet is better for eBooks (due to larger catalog), but Amazon has the Nook beat in every other content category.

That's absolutely true...if you ignore reality.

The ONLY area in which the Kindle Fire actually has the Nook Color/Tablet beat is in individual video purchases.

When it comes to "unlimited" streaming, I'd say that the Nook has the advantage with Netflix, which has a better selection than Prime. Hulu+ availability isn't hurting the Nook in that regard, either.

When it comes to music, the Nook's selection is just as good unless you're still buying MP3 files at $1 a pop rather than on a subscription plan like Rhapsody, MOG, or Grooveshark, all of which the Nook will have support for (just like Kindle Fire). So while Amazon may have B&N beat in terms of content directly available from them on that front, the Kindle fire doesn't have the Nook Tablet/Color beat on that front.

...and of course there's the books themselves, and B&N absolutely smokes Amazon in that department.

They're pretty much on equal ground when it comes to content if you think about it.

Phil, Was this in Pensacola?

I was about to pull the trigger for a Kindle Fire for my son (xmas)- however I like this...I hope that it's root friendly. I wanna see the 2 (Fire Vs. Nook Tab) go head to head. I guess that one is next!

Thanks Phil!

Dumb question- I have been trying to find the REAL answer- as when I search I don't get a lot of solid answers. The 1 file that the Nook supports that the Fire does not is Epub. When would I use this file- and is the only reason Kindle does not support it due to $$?

ePub can be found in public domain books (due to the copyright expired) and at the B&N store and other eBook stores. You can convert from ePub to Mobi with Calibre software, which then the Kindle can read.

The beauty of both the Fire and the new Nook tablet (as opposed to dedicated ereaders) is that both tablets can load all of the formats.

If you've got the new Nook tablet, simply add the Kindle app and you can read Kindle books.

Likewise, if you have the new Kindle Fire, you can load the Nook app (or the Kobo app) and read EPUB formats.

Since both of these tablets have their own appstores, this might not be as easy as it is directly from the Android Market, but it should still be possible.

Actually, as a book reader there is less lockin with Nook (any version) because of the use of ePub and Native support for PDF. If you go with the Kindle you are stuck with Amazon because of their proprietary format. You have to convert ePub (most common eBook format) - one more step on something that should be simple - if you want to recommend something to non-techy friends or family (especially older ones) then Nook is a better choice. Also, one thing Phil has emphasized before is the ecosystem for BN Nook - brick and mortar stores and they have classes to help people with the whole Nook experience. Plus the e-ink Nook Touch has been reduced to $99 (much better than the ad supported Kindle with special offers at $79). Also, the native support of PDF is awesome. Finally, much better built in specs (whether you root or not) - 1 GB ram, 1.2 dual processor, 16 GB onboard and sd card support (32 GB) - means you can actually load up a fair amount of music and video when you're out and around - great for the kids. I think there is plenty of value there for the extra $50 - especially if you root - could you see this as an ICS tablet - using OMAP will make it easier to create custom roms on it since ICS is optimized for OMAP.


You're not being entirely fair with your comparisons. You can easily read PDFs on a Kindle. The Kindle Touch is $99, which is the right product to compare with Nook Touch -- the $79 Kindle is a different animal. And my suspicion is that you'll be able to rook a Kindle Fire just like the current Nook, and hopefully the new Nook Tablet. With the Nook app installed on the Fire, you can read EPUB books with no problem. And with the Kindle app on a Nook Tablet, the reverse is true.

No question that the Nook Tablet has better specs along with the higher price. You get what you pay for.

The real story here is the degree to which these tablets (along with the iPad) are building vertical delivery systems -- setting things up so that people purchase media and ebooks directly from them as opposed to other sources. Smart business model, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

crosstrnr, you're not being entirely fair with your comparison...

How in the world can you tell him that he's not making a fair comparison and then proceed to tell him with a straight face that the correct comparison is one in which you compare an e-reader that forces advertisements on its users with another e-reader that does not with all the same features (and perhaps better performance) at the same price?

The fair comparison is the $99 Nook Touch vs. the $139 Kindle Touch.

C'mon, man. If you're going to call somebody out for doing something it's best that you not do the same thing immediately after doing so.

BTW, I bought my Dad a Nook; gave my son my Kindle, use my Epic 4G to read ebooks, and my wife has an iPad. I love the choices in the 7" tablet range -- radically different than a few months ago!

what about the kobo vox. Is it even in league with the kindle and nook.I love using kobo just wondering where they stand

It may have a dual core chip in it and seem fast but for some reason it still doesn't seem fluid and smooth.

I think the Nook edges out the Fire. More RAM, much more device storage and better book/magazine selection. Video offerings are pretty much the same, and music is there depending on how you consume it. For me, I would just use Pandora on a portable device. I use iTunes and do all my purchasing there.

I sorta like the limited App library. I'd rather have the garbage weeded out and and only pick from the highest rated and most popular apps. Lot of time wasted wading through and trying out crappy apps.

I ordered the Nook and will look at the Fire in person when it hits stores. But I do know that this device will render my Flyer useless, my PlayBook useless, and even my HTC Jetstream has been marginalized. Big device, not as portable and incredibly slow for a 1.5 mHz processor. For me, a media rich, portable, snappy device that allows me to read books, magazines, Web, news, watch TV and movies in one well integrated device? Very compelling. Amazon and B&N have a content ecosystem to tap into. 10.1" Droid tabs are too big and expensive to do most of the same thing.
There is iPad and then I think what's left of the market will be dominated by devices like the Nook and Fire which are far more attractive (be it price and content) compared to spending $600 on a Xoom or any other Droid tab, or an expensive iPad. You can justify the iPad price because it can do so many things that Droid tabs can't, but I can no longer justify spending almost the same price for a Xoom, Jetstream, etc. tablet that doesn't have the content ecosystem that Apple, Amazon, B&N have.

I would like to know how responsive the touch screen is. The reason I got rid of my original NC was because the capacitive screen was terrible. I really wanted to use a capacitive stylus (boxwave) to annotate pdfs and it didnt work at all.

When People says specs don't matter all you have to do is look at some of the reviews of the Kindle Fire and they say it gets "laggy" at times. As a hardware geek that is most probably due to only 512K ram. Also, if true and the Nook is snappy for all applications (in an unrooted from) then this is going to be huge for the Nook Tablet. Amazon should have better optimized Android than they did. I have no interest in the Fire, Nook for me all the way (haven't decided to Root or not).