The Bottom Line
Nov 28 2011 - On paper, the Barnes and Noble NOOK Tablet is a solid choice for those looking at a low cost tablet thanks to its $249 price. While it is more expensive than the Amazon Kindle Fire, much of the hardware benefits in the extra cost are negated by the way the software is implemented. Frankly, if you already have a Barnes and Noble ereader or use their ereader software and library on the PC, it is still a good solid choice. If you aren't invested in one particular book storefront yet, then the choice is a little less obvious and will come down to which of the two you prefer in their software and hardware.
- Affordable Compared To Most Other Tablets
- Built-in Microphone Adds
- MicroSD Slot For Added Storage
- Only 1GB Available For Non-Barnes And Noble Files
- Interface Primarily Only Designed For Use With Barnes And Noble's Content
- 1GHz TI OMAP (Cortex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 16GB Storage
- 7" WSVGA (1024x600) Multitouch Display
- PowerVR SGX 540 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- micro USB 2.0, microSD Slot 3.5mm Audio Jack
- 8.1" x 5" x .48" @ .88 lbs.
Review - Barnes and Noble NOOK Tablet
Nov 28 2011 - Barnes and Noble really was already in the tablet market with its NOOK ereader products. The main difference here is that the past products were scaled down specifically to be an ereader. The NOOK Tablet changes that with a bit more emphasis on it being used for more than just a reader. It shares the same design as the NOOK Color ereader but with a slightly lighter shade of gray for its plastic exterior. The design itself is certainly unique among the sea of tablets especially because of its loop often referred to a carabiner.
The NOOK Tablet is obviously going to be directly compared to the Amazon Kindle Fire as they have similar pricing, size and overall intentions. Most notably is that both of these devices are designed to sell content through their respective outlets than an open platform. It is true to say that Apple's immensely popular iPad 2 tablet is just the same with its iTunes and iBooks, but the interface of the NOOK Tablet and Kindle Fire are essentially designed almost exclusively for use with their content options. This can be beneficial as with Amazon and its Prime membership, but Barnes and Noble doesn't have as wide of a set of features that holds it back a bit.
Physically, the NOOK Tablet is one of the larger 7-inch tablets on the market thanks to its larger plastic bezel that surrounds the screen. The plastic bezel does stick out a bit from the screen which does allow it to be held a bit easier with a single hand than the competition and also helps to protect the screen somewhat from scratches and bumps. While larger, it does weight a bit less than the Kindle Fire but still is quite heavy when compared to the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus.
The big difference that most people will notice between the NOOK Tablet and the Kindle Fire is the price. After all, the Kindle Fire is one of the cheapest on the market with a $199 price tag. At $50 more, Barnes and Noble does make a few notable changes to their hardware to justify the cost. For instance, the Kindle Fire has a paltry 512MB of memory which does hinder the performance of the tablet at times. In comparison, the NOOK Tablet comes with a more traditional 1GB of memory. Amazon compensates for this with its Silk browser but the NOOK Tablet seems to hold its own just fine.
Storage space on the NOOK Tablet is also twice that of the Kindle Fire with 16GB. Now, this seems like a great thing but there is a major problem. Of this 16GB of space, only 1GB of it is allocated for use with non-Barnes and Noble files. This essentially negates any of the major storage benefits within the tablet. The company has said that a later software change should open up more of the internal storage but that won't be the case for early adopters. At least the NOOK Tablet features a microSD card slot that allows one to add extra storage space for any files you wish to load outside of Barnes and Nobles little fifedom but that will add to the cost of the tablet.
While the NOOK Tablet does not feature any cameras that would be found on more expensive tablets, it does feature a microphone built into it. Why the microphone? Actually, it is a very useful feature tied into the book reader that can be used for kids. Essentially, parents can record themselves reading a book so that the children can then have the book read to them by their parents voice. And since the Kindle Fire doesn't have such a feature, it does differentiate it from them.
Barnes and Noble claims that the NOOK Tablet should last up to nine hours of video playback. In video streaming tests, the tablet was able to last just under seven hours which is slightly more than the competing Kindle Fire but not by a large margin. It should be noted that this is much shorter than the ten inch tablets such as the Apple iPad 2 with its larger battery than provides a class leading ten hours. Still, for the average tablet user, this should be enough to go a whole day on a single charge.