The Nook Tablet that I pre-ordered last week from New York based Barnes and Noble arrived early today. Fortunately I was able to get an early look and had some time to explore this new second generation tablet which is noticeable better than the Nook Color.
The new Nook Tablet is definitely worth its price of $249.00 which is priced $50.00 higher than the Amazon Kindle and still $ 250.00 cheaper than Apple’s i-pad.
The set up was quick and easy. The Nook Tablet is light weight and lighter than the Nook Color, the Kindle Fire, and the i-pad. The Nook Tablet is easy to carry in one hand and is shaped perfectly for e-reading on the go in a car, plane, or train. Because of its smaller dimensions compared to a 9-10 inch larger tablet, it is quite easy and comfortable to hold in bed while reading or browsing the internet.
Aesthetics and Design
With a winning design by Yves Behar, the Nook Tablet is simple and elegant. Gripping the tablet is easy and a positive tactile experience. On the left corner of the tablet, there is a small hook which is strategically positioned to accomodate the micro SD slot in the back of the tablet which actually folds out. The SD card is not included. It is used for storing personal files such as PDF documents, music, videos, pictures, and more. There is a music application on the interface.
The VividView Color Touchscreen is non glare and features a high resolution, beautiful color touchscreen for easy navigation and page turns. I did not experience any gaps between the glass screen and the LCD. It was a seamless and flawless experience. There is a headphone jack on the top of the tablet. Volume controls are well positioned and built on the side of the tablet. The sound quality was decent but I admittedly had to turn up the volume to its highest settings to achieve a comfortable sound level. The raised Nook logo on the bottom of the tablet acts as the home hub. There is also a built in microphone for recording.
The Nook Tablet uses Android and has dual-core 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 CPU and 1GB of RAM. The speed of the tablet while in use is fast. I was impressed with the consistency of the speed when browsing the web and loading pages. The Nook Tablet operates from a Wifi connection rather then a 3 or 4 G connection that comes with a data plan from a wireless carrier.
However, I did have some occasional problems with the resolution of the fonts on some web pages that were filled with a higher volume of content. The fonts appeared fuzzy until I turned the screen over to full size or else pinched and zoomed in. Battery life is long at 11.5 hours for reading.
After pressing the home nook logo, a pop up navigator bar appears. This is used to navigate to the displayed icons showing library, shop, search, apps, web, or settings. Several icons are imbedded into the interface including the categories of books, newsstand (magazines- newspapers), movies, music, and apps. There is a music player app (Pandora Internet Radio and Music Player), Nook friends app, and a Netflix app.
Accessing the Nook library was simple. The search toolbar is intuitive and offers suggestions based on the words that are typed in the toolbar. Barnes and Noble has the largest book library in the world with over 2 million books. Their children’s book selection is well respected. The children’s online search can be broken into age ranges, making it easy to find age appropriate books. Some of the books have “Read to Me” features that involve a voice reading the words on the pages.
The Nook user can read and record with the built in microphone. This function works well on selected books for children who want to hear a narrative voice of their parent, relative, or friend instead of the programed voice. It is perfect for a busy parent who travels yet still wants to play a role in the development of their child’s education.
A section called “popular lists” offers a glimpse into the most featured genres and offerings for the Barnes and Noble e-reader. The Nook Tablet provides adjustable fonts and sliding pages that work smoothly. The “Press and Hold” feature allows the e-reader to touch the screen and hold it for about 2 seconds. In many situations, pressing and holding will pop open a menu, such as to highlight or look up a word while reading.
I quickly loaded up an Activity Book app for my child and enjoyed viewing the high resolution graphics once the application was started. Barnes and Nobles said that they have over one thousand apps. I did not spend much time browsing through Barnes and Noble’s apps store this evening.
Video and Music
Today I read a few online reviews of the Nook Tablet that criticized the Nook Tablet for not having an established video and music ecosystem compared to Amazon’s Kindle Fire with Amazon Prime. I have not had the opportunity to operate the Kindle Fire thus far. However, I have viewed movie streaming offerings through AmazonPrime and listened to some songs through their MP3 library.
The Nook Tablet offers pre-loaded Netflix and Hulu Plus icons (Note: I have been unable to find the Hulu Plus icon thus far) so it is possible for the Nook user to access movies and T.V. content through Netflix and Hulu. Video quality that I discovered with Netflix and U-Tube was quite good with no streaming breaks.
It is true that Amazon has a deep music library with their MP3’s. The company has invested a significant amount of money in their music content. Barnes and Noble can’t really compete against Amazon’s deep MP3 music library. I was told by a Barnes and Noble tech representative that the Nook’s music player can be used to download music through their USB cable or SD Memory Card Slot.
I have not attempted to transfer music to the Nook’s music player. However, I used Pandora Internet Radio and listened to a few songs from Stone Temple Pilots.
Because the Kindle Fire offers movie and T.V. content through Amazon Prime in addition to Netflix and Hulu Plus, their video offerings are richer than the video found on the Nook Tablet which exclusively uses Netflix and Hulu Plus.
As a multi-media tablet, the Kindle Fire appears to have a media content advantage over the Nook Tablet. But let’s remember that Barnes and Noble’s primary motive behind releasing the Nook Tablet is to become the best e-reader tablet in the market, not necessarily the best media tablet such as the Kindle Fire or i-pad with their rich in house video and music content selections.
It is a big achievement for Barnes and Noble to break away from their staid bookstore image and voyage out to the new world of streaming music and video, albeit in a modest format. As a book store company that has managed to successfully out-live and out-survive a now bankrupt Border’s Books, the resilient Barnes and Noble is evolving and meeting the growing demand in the market to innovate and provide a more integrated tablet. The Nook Tablet is Barnes and Noble’s answer to that growing demand.
Penetration in the market
Although the Nook Tablet is entering the market later this week with less fanfare compared to the Kindle Fire, it remains an impressive tablet that should gain traction in the market. The widely respected reputation of Barnes and Noble with their rich e-reading library and free tech support at local stores will also make it easier for tablet consumers to chose the Nook Tablet over other tablets that are not established and practical to operate.
The Nook Tablet is perfect tablet to download a daily subscription to the Wall St. Journal or New York Times and read the newpaper on a train, plane, or bus while on the way to work. It is a smaller, portable device that can be easily placed inside a coat, briefcase, or purse.
When the Nook Tablet is released later this week, I expect that more consumers will take notice and purchase this new tablet.
* Correction- during my article from Monday I wrote that Amazon Kindle users don’t have access to books from the public library. This statement is incorrect. Amazon users do have access to select public books from public libraries. I apologize about the mistake.