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Nook Tablet is $249, and other Nooks get price cuts

Nov 7, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Barnes & Noble announced a $249 Android tablet featuring a seven-inch IPS (in-plane switching) display, a dual-core, 1GHz processor from Texas Instruments, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The new “Nook Tablet” was joined by enhancements and a $50 price drop for the existing Nook Color, plus a new $99 price for the monochrome Simple Touch.

At a Nov. 7 intro event in New York, Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch was on the offensive, positioning his company's new products as superior to those from rival Amazon. First in his sights was Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which was introduced Sept. 28 with a seven-inch display (1024 x 600 pixels), a dual-core processor, and a $200 price tag.

Lynch chided the Fire as having inherited its underlying hardware from RIM's PlayBook and rubbed in his point by displaying a slide of those two devices together. Ironically, though, B&N's new Nook Tablet (below) looks almost identical to the company's previously released Nook Color, leading some to conclude that its hardware hasn't changed.

Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet

In fact, there have been changes to the Nook Tablet's hardware that make it more of a full-fledged tablet, and — at least according to Lynch — outdo the Kindle Fire. Both the Nook Tablet and the Fire have 1024 x 600 pixel IPS displays with capacitive multitouch, but Barnes & Noble's is the first to be "fully laminated, for remarkable clarity and reduced reflections indoors or outside," the bookseller says.

The Nook Tablet also upgrades to a 1GHz dual-core processor that, we believe, is the same Texas Instruments OMAP4 employed in the Fire (neither company has officially named its chip supplier). But for the extra $50 over the Fire, B&N loyalists get 16GB of flash storage instead of 8GB, a microSD slot that accepts up to 32GB, and 1GB of RAM.

Both the Fire and the Nook Tablet employ customized versions of Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread"), and both push users to the respective booksellers' own online stores instead of the Android Market. (Of course, enthusiasts months ago figured out how to hack the Nook Color and transform it into an unfettered Android tablet; we expect it won't take long before the same happens here.) Both competitors also lack cameras, Bluetooth, and the 3G wireless options found on more expensive tablets.

But B&N upgraded the Nook Color in May to support more than 125 apps, run Adobe Flash, and include an email application. For the Nook Tablet, there will be "thousands" of downloadable apps, free online cloud storage, plus pre-loaded software that includes: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Chess, Crossword, Sudoku, Media Gallery, and Nook Friends (apparently a social networking app).

According to B&N, the Nook Tablet will provide up to 11.5 hours of battery life for reading, or nine hours of video playback ("1080p" is claimed, but there's no HDMI port). The device includes 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, a microphone, speaker, and headphone jack, the company adds.

The Nook Tablet measures 8.1 x 5 x 0.48 inches and weighs 14.1 ounces, B&N says. That's the same size as the earlier Nook Color, but the latter is a slightly heftier 15.8 ounces, according to the company.

Enhancements to the Nook Color and Simple Touch

Speaking of the Nook Color (right), this device continues on with its original 800MHz processor, and none of its other hardware has changed. But its price has been cut $50, to $199.

Further, according to B&N, the Nook Color now comes with "enhanced tablet functionality" that includes pre-loaded Pandora software, plus free trials of Rhapsody, MOG, and Grooveshark. Netflix and Hulu Plus will be "coming soon" to this device too, the bookeller added. (Presumably, existing Nook Color owners will be able to update their devices via downloadable software updates, though we did not see details of this.)

Meanwhile, B&N says, its monochrome Simple Touch e-reader is down from $139 to $99 — "ad-free," CEO Lynch noted in another dig at Amazon. A new version of the E-Ink display makes this "25 percent faster than any other e-reader," while new "BestText" rendering means it works "just like paper," even in bright sunlight, according to the company.

Barnes & Noble's updated Simple Touch

B&N says the Simple Touch has the longest battery life of any e-reader: more than two months. Like the Nook Tablet and Nook Color, it's said to support not only the than 2.5 million books on the company's online store, but also those in the universal ePub format.


According to Barnes and Noble, the $249 Nook Tablet will be available Nov. 18, not only in its physical and virtual stores, but also from retail partners including Best Buy, OfficeMax, RadioShack, Staples, Target, and Walmart. More information may be found on the Nook Tablet product page.

The $199 Nook Color and $99 Nook Simple Touch are said to be available now. More information may be found on the Nook Color product page and Nook Simple Touch product page.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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