Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet Review

9
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

One year older and one year wiser, Barnes and Noble is bringing us its latest Nook device that’s simply dubbed as the Nook Tablet this time around, which hopes to continue the legacy established by the Nook Color from last year. Unlike the Color not only is it aiming to offer the world’s best reading experience , but to fully compete against the horde of tablets out there.  Charming us with its $249 price point again, it’s indeed very reasonable for any budget, but is it going to be enough to lure people away from other recent selections?

The package contains:

  • Nook Tablet
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide

Design:

As a whole, it keeps intact the same body and style used by the Nook Color from before. Being narrower in size versus other 7” tablet offerings, it’s very comfortable and easy to hold with one hand – and it helps that its soft touch elements are remarkably resilient to getting dirty. Surprisingly, B&N has managed to reduce its weight by a full 1lb while maintaining a 0.48” thick figure.



The Nook Tablet is graced with a 7” VividView display (IPS panel) that boasts the typical resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels – making it more than acceptable with details thanks to its pixel density of 169 ppi. In addition, it’s fully laminated with no air gaps whatsoever to offer wide viewings, crystal clear clarity, and reduced glare both with indoor and outdoor usage. The Nook Tablet’s display is a treat to behold in itself thanks to its vivid colors, high brightness output, and maintains clarity no matter where/how you look at it.


Just like before, the Nook Tablet features the peculiar ‘n’ button below its display to grant us access to the homescreen by doubling pressing it, or to the main menu bar with a single press.


Even though its volume controls and dedicated power button are flush to the surface, they exhibit some acceptable responses when pressed. Quickly looking around its sides, we find a 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, lanyard strap, and microUSB. Strangely, with the latter, you can use any microUSB cable to connect it to a computer for data transfers, but when it comes to charging, you’re required to use the included cable only.


In the rear, we find its distinguishable Nook logo embossed into the soft touch surface – with a flap in the corner that hides away its microSD card slot.





Interface and Functionality:

Well, if you’ve handled the Nook Color already, you won’t find anything particularly new with the Nook Tablet since it’s the same software experience as before. Of course, it’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread running the show underneath it all, but considering that this isn’t a “with Google” device, it doesn’t offer things like Gmail, YouTube, or the Android Market.

Naturally, the Barnes & Noble ecosystem is flourishing with enough content consisting of books, newspapers, and magazines, but what it’s lacking to deepen its tablet functionality, is the limited amount of apps available with its app store. Surely you get some of the more popular apps out there, like Angry Birds, Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu Plus, but its depth of selection is a far cry from what’s available with your typical Honeycomb tablet – even worse, its selections pale in comparison to what Amazon already has with the Kindle Fire. At least straight out of the box, as we are already seeing hacks that allow you to load the Amazon App Store on this one, albeit app sideloading is officially restricted.

Regardless of that, the customized Barnes & Noble UI is a tad more appreciative than the Amazon Kindle’s offering namely because it offers better personalization – like the ability to place content on its 3 homescreens, resize those icons, and changing the background wallpaper.
 

Cramped in layout due to the 7” display, the messaging aspect with the Nook Tablet is rather challenging – albeit, we do like its responsive nature. Presenting us with the most basic of layouts, it’s straightforward with its approach, however, we find it easier to use the portrait option for the simple reason that our thumbs are able to encompass the entire layout with ease.

In attracting people to its potential, the Nook Tablet features an uncomplicated email app that presents us with the bare essentials. Although it might not impress power users, it’ll nonetheless appease a broad audience seeing that it gets the job done – though, it’s lacking some deeper functions.


To keep it up with the times, the Nook Tablet is outfitted with a newer 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor and 1GB of RAM, which combine to together to offer a tolerable performance that doesn’t seemed too bogged down. Far from exhibiting the most fluid responses with its movements, we do notice a subtle choppy feel with basic operations like scrolling – though, it’s not terrible to the point of being totally unusable. Obviously, there’s no hiding the fact that it’s not as gracious as some other tablets out there in the market when it comes to its operation, but it’s nevertheless acceptable enough to handle most things with decent output.

 
Camera:

Keeping it firmly as an eReader first before anything else, the Nook Tablet doesn’t pack along any sort of cameras, so you will not be able to use it for video calling.

Multimedia:

Seeing that Barnes & Noble doesn’t offer its own kind of music service, much like Amazon’s MP3 Store, we’re left to rely on getting music the old fashion way by putting it onto the device’s internal storage or microSD card slot. Checking out the music player, it’s mostly very generic looking with its presentation, and at the same time, its speaker pumps out some average tones that are pleasant to the ear.


Aside from using things like Netflix or Hulu Plus to satisfy our video watching needs, the Nook Tablet handles playing high-definition videos with no problems at all. Loading our test video that’s encoded in MPEG-4 1920 x 1080 resolution, it comes to life with plenty of vibrancy, detail, and smooth playback.


At the core of the Nook Tablet, priority number one is to offer a resounding eBook reading experience, and of course, it does exceptionally well in that area thanks in part to its bountiful catalog. Whether we’re reading a book, magazine, or newspaper of some sort, its VividView display charismatically showcases its worth – but then again, we can say the same about most tablets out there. One new feature worth mentioning found with the Nook Tablet, is the new Read and Record feature available with children’s books, which allows you to make a recording for future playback when the book is read. It’s nice and all of course, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s not something that has a profound presence.



Quickly glancing over things, we’re undeniably thrilled to know that it boasts 16GB of internal storage – plus, it will also accommodate a variety of microSD card sizes. However, that 16GB of memory is broken down to 3GB for the operating system, 12GB reserved for Barnes & Noble content, and a measly 1GB leftover for other content – like photos, videos, and music.

Internet and Connectivity:

The web browsing experience on the Nook Tablet is tolerable enough to accept wholeheartedly. Having support for Flash content is nice, as it provides that near desktop-like experience to render complex web pages properly in a decent amount of time. Meanwhile, its operation isn’t as smooth compared to other devices, which exhibits a subtle amount of choppiness, but it’s nonetheless adept at offering us an acute experience that’s downright satisfactory.


Just like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet only has Wi-Fi as its main source of connectivity to grab data from the clouds. Compared to competition, it’s missing out on certain things that make other tablets more equipped at handling demanding needs – like having Bluetooth, aGPS, and cellular connectivity.



Performance:

In our usage, which mainly consists of heavy web browsing, emailing, and some light reading, we’re left with 44% battery capacity after one day. More than sufficient, it’s nice that battery life isn’t compromised with its modernized hardware.

Conclusion:

In this highly volatile market, the Nook Tablet will still be something on the minds of many thanks to its superb price point of only $249.  Just like the Amazon Kindle Fire, it is a neat small tablet, and its price point compensates for the rather limited functionality straight out of the box. It is good for internet, email, reading and multimedia. The greatest drawback is the limited app selection, as it relies on its own ecosystem and not on the Android Market. Compared to the Kindle Fire, this one is also lacking in its music, and video service ecosystem. Regardless, it’s something you’ll want to consider if you want to get away with a decent tablet without forking over a whole lot of moolah from your pockets.

Software Version: 1.4

Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet Video Review:





Pros

  • Affordable cost
  • Solid construction
  • Wide viewing angles

Cons

  • Limited app, video, & music ecosystem
  • Proprietary charging connection

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

User Rating:

6.0
2 Reviews

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