But in this ‘’is it cheap enough to compensate the power difference?’’ debate, another important slate manufacturer was left out. We are talking about Barnes & Noble, the company responsible for the Nook e-reader and Nook Color’s popularity and Amazon’s main archrival.
The US-based company should get back to the spotlight though, announcing the release of their own affordable 7-inch slate, the Nook Tablet. In the following lines we will take a quick first look at its tech specs and features, trying to determine if it can really be a worthy opponent for either the iPad 2 or the Kindle Fire.
Design and build
Following in Kindle Fire’s footsteps, the Nook Tablet fails to bring anything special or original in terms of design. But while Amazon’s gadget resembled the BlackBerry Playbook, this 7-incher looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Nook Color.
You get the same gunmetal gray design with a black back panel, the same triangular cutout in the lower left hand corner and the same clean industrial overall look. The new Nook is a bit lighter, weighing in at just over 14 ounces (400 grams), but all in all we would have liked a few more tweaks and changes. On the other hand, we can’t say that the tablet isn’t slim, elegant and portable.
Screen, hardware and performance
The strong resemblances between the Nook Color and the new Nook Tablet continue when talking about the screens unfortunately. They both sport the same 7-inch VividView Color Touchscreen IPS displays with 1024 x 600 pixels resolution and 169 PPI (pixels per inch). Once again, we are not saying that this is not nice and it doesn’t provide crisp colors, as well as high levels of brightness and contrast, we are just saying that we would have liked to see a change or an improvement of some kind.
In terms of hardware, on the other hand, things are changed and fortunately they are also improved. The new Nook Tablet is therefore powered by a 1 GHz TI OMAP4 dual-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, which should provide enough oomph to support a couple of video games, as well as a pretty smooth web browsing experience.
As for the storage space, the Nook Tablet comes with 16 GB of built-in memory, but also with a micro SD card slot allowing you to expand the space to up to 32 GB.
Software, battery life and others
The new Nook tablet runs Android Gingerbread in theory, but the interface looks very different to the classic Android one due to a couple of important UI changes. The 7-incher is geared towards some specific functions, like e-book reading and web-browsing, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t get plenty of all-purpose apps as well.
The pre-loaded content is pretty rich and varied and includes some nice games (Chess, Crossword, Sudoku), as well as Email Book Reading, Nook Friends, Media Gallery, Netflix and Hulu Plus and you also get access to Nook books and support for pretty much any audio and video file type known to mankind.
In terms of battery life, Barnes & Noble claims an autonomy of up to 11.5 hours of reading or nine hours of video playing with power save mode on and wireless off, which should mean around six or seven hours of continuous normal use.
Other features include standard Wireless connectivity, as well as a universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack and a built-in microphone.
Pricing and availability
The Kindle Fire has pretty much changed the pricing ‘’ball game’’ in the tablet market and every new gadget that comes out tries to reduce its costs to a minimum and to be as affordable as possible. It is therefore no wonder that the new Nook Tablet, while clearly stronger than the Nook Color, is set to come at an almost identical price tag of 249 dollars.
It will also hit the market very soon (November 16 to be more exact), so as not to lose any leverage in front of the new Kindle Fire, which should start shipping only a day earlier.
Featuring practically no change in terms of design and screen from the old Nook Color, but a few hardware tweaks that should make it slightly snappier than the Kindle Fire, the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet is clearly not a match for Apple’s iPad 2, but should still sell in decent numbers.
With a pretty affordable price tag, but still more expensive than Amazon’s Fire, and not so great software,but decent nevertheless, the Nook Tablet could be the spark to further fuel the already heated tablet war.
For further details about this new and exciting 7-incher, you can check out the following short hands-on video from Mashable. Also, stay close to our website, because in a matter of hours we will get back with a head-to-head comparison between the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet!