The Bottom Line
Nov 8 2012 - Barnes and Noble really wanted to set themselves apart from their competition and they did this by provide a small tablet with a very high resolution screen that makes images and text very sharp and detailed. In addition to this, their profiles make it very functional as a tablet to be shared within a family. The downside is that the device is still best suited towards readers as the selection for applications and video still lags greatly behind.
- Great Display
- Profiles Allow Device Media To Be Locked To Specific Users
- MicroSD Slot For Expandable Storage
- Limited Storage Space
- No Cameras
- Programs and User Interface Feels Slow
- 1.3GHz TI OMAP 4470 (Cortex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 8GB Storage
- 7" WXGA+ (1440x900) Multitouch Display
- PowerVR SGX 544 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Dock Connector, microSD, 3.5mm Audio
- 7.7" x 5" x .4" @ .69 lbs.
- NOOK OS 2.0 (Android 4.0 Based)
Review - Barnes and Noble Nook HD
Nov 8 2012 - Barnes and Noble's Nook tablets have very much been focused on being a reader first and a tablet second. This changes a bit with the new NOOK HD thanks to its upgraded operating system and much higher resolution display. Appearance wise, they tried to keep much of the design similar to the original NOOK tablet but removed the lower corner loop for a more solid and smooth design. It is one of the lighter tablets on the market at just .69 lbs but is heavier and thicker than the latest Apple iPad Mini. The corners and edges are rounded that goes all the way to the back side. The material is a magnesium shell but the feel of it is a bit more like plastic. There are stereo speakers on the back of the tablet behind a single grill on the bottom in portrait which makes it awkward when watching a movie in landscape mode.
Powering the NOOK HD is the TI OMAP 4470 dual core processor that is a standard Cortex-A9 processor. This has a slight edge over the Kindle Fire HD's processor but lags behind the Nexus 7 with its quad core. In terms of smoothness, the UI seems to need some work as applications just felt slow in comparison to the competition. Now, it uses the Android 4.0 operating system version which is the same as Kindle but it does have a custom skin on top of it. Most likely it is this skin that is causing the performance issues.
The custom skin that is on the NOOK HD has its good and bad aspects. The most useful of the features is the profiles. Essentially, the tablet can have up to six different profiles setup on the tablet which is similar to having specific user. Each user can then be setup to have access to specific media or programs on the tablet. This is extremely useful for those who share their tablet with a child allowing them to be able to watch children's videos or books while locking out more adult novels and comics for the grown ups. The downside here is that the OS is locked out from using the Google Play store which is one of the most populous of the Android application stores. This means that there are fewer programs to select from as you are restricted to those made available from Barnes and Noble.
The biggest hit that the NOOK HD has against it is the storage. For the $199 device, it comes with just 8GB of storage space total. Now, the Nexus 7 when it was first released offered the same amount but has since been upgraded to 16GB to compete with the Kindle Fire HD. Barnes and Noble does make up for this by including a microSD card slot to add additional storage space which is something many buyers will likely want to do. Why? Well, most of the other companies offer some form of cloud based storage so you can easily switch out media and applications but Barnes and Noble does not. This makes the local storage a much more precious commodity.
What really sets the Barnes and Noble NOOK HD apart from the other tablets in its size range is the display. Clearly the company wanted to set themselves apart by offering a higher 1440x900 resolution which is higher than the Kindle Fire HD or the Nexus 7. Like the other tablets, it relies on an IPS screen that gives it very good color and wide viewing angles. It is certainly much sharper than any of the other screens and also seems a tad bit brighter.
Barnes and Noble doesn't list what the size of the internal battery is for the NOOK HD but instead rates it at ten and a half hours of reading and nine for video. This is a fairly standard range claim for many of the larger ten inch tablets but pretty long for a smaller seven inch. In video playback testing, the tablet did a very good job considering its high resolution screen by running for just under eight and three quarter hours. This puts it just below the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 but well behind the Apple iPad Mini with its class leading twelve hours.
With its $199 base price tag, the Barnes and Noble NOOK HD is certainly very affordable. At this same price, both the Amazon and Nexus are its prime competitors. Both those devices have a lower quality screen but make up for it with additional storage. The Nexus 7 is certainly much better for those looking to use the tablet for applications while the Kindle Fire HD has the edge when it comes to video thanks to Amazon's movie and TV options. The results is that the NOOK HD is probably best suited towards those looking at a tablet for reading first.