It was only a few months ago that it looked like Barnes & Noble's Nook brand, comprising Android tablets and an online media store, was headed for extinction. Within a few months, Microsoft had ended its partnership with the book seller, 2014 holiday sales were disappointing, and the company filed to spin the Nook division off entirely.
But rather than ending, the Nook story has spawned a sequel thanks to its current hardware partner, Samsung. With the tablet market in the doldrums, Samsung may have calculated that rather than end its relationship with a sinking brand, it would squeeze out whatever visibility it could get for its Galaxy tablets on the shelves of the still-sizable number of B&N stores dotting the country.
Last month, the pair unveiled the Galaxy Tab S2 Nook, a version of Samsung's thinnest and lightest tablet to date. At $399.99, however, it's definitely on the high end of the tablet price range, especially considering it's an 8-inch model, albeit one with impressive specs. Now they're back at it with a more affordable device.
The Galaxy Tab E Nook offers a bigger screen (9.6 inches), along with a more modest price tag ($249.99). That sounds great, but its specifications are equally modest, with a lower resolution display than the Tab S2 (1,280x800 compared to 2,048x1,536) as well as half the built-in storage (16GB versus 32GB). It also lacks the S2's fingerprint reader, but shares its capability to run two apps simultaneously in multi-window mode.
Just like the S2, the Tab E comes with $5 in credit to use in the Nook online store and offers three free books and three free magazines from a selection of titles. It also features "a non-slip, fabric-like material" that Barnes & Noble claims helps to provide a comfortable grip.
B&N is trying to entice buyers to grab a Nook tablet with a couple of trade-in programs. Existing Nook owners can hand in their current device and receive a $50 credit toward a new model, whereas anyone can trade in select Kindles, iPads, and Galaxy Tabs and earn anywhere from $25 to $200 towards a new Nook. Whether any of these efforts will help to boost the Nook's fortunes remains to be seen, but apparently the last chapter on the story hasn't been written quite yet.