Barnes & Noble goes with the family plan on new Nook HD tablets

Barnes & Noble goes with the family plan on new Nook HD tablets

Summary: Barnes & Noble hones its tablet strategy firmly with a family-friendly focus.


Barnes & Noble is upgrading its Nook tablet portfolio with two brand-new models: the 7-inch Nook HD and the 9-inch Nook HD+.

At first glance, it would be easy to assume these are Barnes & Noble's answer to Amazon's recently announced Kindle Fire HD series (which they are to some extent) or even the Nexus 7 and the iPad.

But to stay afloat in the crowded media tablet game, Barnes & Noble is clearing up its strategy by focusing primarily on the family, which has really been the company's stronghold all along.

Since the first Nook Color tablet debuted in 2010, Barnes & Noble has repeatedly used enhanced and interactive children's books and related features as major selling points.

Thus, B&N is taking that several steps further with the Nook HD, describing it as the "first tablet designed for the whole family."

That argument is supported by the addition of personal profiles, which enables Nook HD owners to be able to toggle between up to six different profiles on the same device.

Parents can customize the security settings for each profile. Some of those controls include designating what TV shows and books from the parent's library can be viewable in their kid's profiles as well as setting a pin code to prevent the child from toggling back to any other profiles on the device.

B&N reps explained during a demo presentation on Tuesday that this approach allows for a more sandbox-like, curated experience for younger users. Furthermore, the security settings are not Barnes & Noble-defined policies, but rather they are defined by the parent when initially creating the profiles.

Theoretically, you could save a lot of money and just buy one media tablet for your whole family without having to worry about hiding your own content or not.

Enterprise and Entertainment

Certainly, there are some consumers who will want to look and compare all of the nitty-gritty specs, such as the resolution, weight, etc. Barnes & Noble is touting both products as lighter with better displays compared to some competitors, but in those regards, most of the differences are negligible when it comes to figuring out what you want to do with a tablet.

Barnes & Noble has spruced up the UI experience for reading books and magazines as well as the navigation menu, all of which is built upon Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). One of the more nifty features is called Scrapbook, which essentially replicates ripping out pages of from a magazine and saves them in one digital folder.

For anyone looking to use the 9-inch Nook HD+ for work-related purposes, those features are still limited. There are some helpful new features, including support for Microsoft Exchange email and the addition of Bluetooth, which opens up the possibility for using a physical keyboard with this device as well.

Nevertheless, B&N is better off sticking with the family-friendly and entertainment angles. The latter strategy is getting a boost as the Nook HD series includes support for UltraViolet, a cloud-based licensing system and cross-studio partnership that is working on standardizing physical and digital ownership. Basically, if you buy a DVD with UltraViolet authentication, you would have the same rights to the digital copy included in the buying price.

Barnes & Noble is promising that physical copies of movies and TV shows bought in its stores will also be available for viewing online. B&N will be rolling out a Nook online video platform during the holiday season into next year across iOS, Android, Roku, and Xbox initially, with the Playstation 3 to be added to the list eventually.

Thus, while Amazon and Apple's iTunes have an edge over Barnes & Noble when it comes to the amount of video content available for purchasing and renting on their tablets, B&N's plan with UltraViolet has the potential to be a lot more flexible.


In terms of pricing, Barnes & Noble is pretty competitive. Here's a rundown:

  • Nook HD (in Snow or Smoke): 8GB -- $199; 16GB -- $229
  • Nook HD+ (in Slate): 16GB -- $269; 32GB -- $299

Note that those prices include the new 30-pin power charger, which looks similar to the old 30-pin connector on iOS devices, but it's actually slightly different. You won't be able to use the same microUSB charger used with older Nook tablet models.

There will also be a separate dongle with a 6-inch HDMI cable for connecting the tablets to TVs and other devices for $39.99. Additionally, the microSD card slot support has been bumped up to a ceiling of 64GB.

All of these will be available for pre-order starting Wednesday, September 26. An exact ship date has not been announced, but Barnes & Noble reps assert that new Nook tablets will be available in stores as well as at Walmart, Target, and with other channel partners in the U.S. and U.K. by the end of October.


Images via Barnes & Noble

Topics: Tablets, Android, Apps, Mobile OS, Mobility

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  • Who would of thought it ?

    Microsoft selling Linux. It had to happen one day ;)
    Alan Smithie
    • Kind of amazing (funny) how MS is making money from Linux

      while the distro's themselves are struggling to.

      But if that doesn't pay-off, there's this - "Another possible benefit for Microsoft is that its software may power devices designed for electronic books, magazines and newspapers. Executives of the two companies didn't rule out the idea that future Nook devices could run Microsoft operating systems, and their contract also cites the possibility Microsoft could make e-readers"
      William Farrel
    • RE: Microsoft selling Linux. It had to happen one day

      It's been going on for awhile as Microsoft started selling SLES licenses shortly after partnering with Novell several years ago. After their acquisition of Novell, Attachmate extended this agreement with Microsoft for an additional 5 years.

      Then there was Microsoft's Azure platform that will run Linux images supplied by Microsoft's business partners (e.g., Attachmate, Canonical) on top of Hyper-V.

      And, now, Microsoft's partnership with Barnes & Noble embodied by NewCo. This appears to be Microsoft's first foray into Linux-based client devices.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Go, Barnes & Noble!

    Who would have guessed that this scrappy underdog would be the first to bring user profiles to a tablet OS! This is one of the most universally requested features and it wasn't Applie, it wasn't Google, it wasn't Amazon who implemented it first: it was Barnes & Noble. I still think it's an uphill climb for B&N and the odds are against them, but everyone loves a fighter.
  • Agreed. And by a bookseller, no less.

    Shame on you, Apple and Google.

    P.S. Hopefully, Microsoft's backing will breathe new life into B & N.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • But why is MS "backing" an Android tablet?

      I thought for sure that when MS settled with B&N, the new tablets would run WP8.

      Why not?
      • RE: But why is MS "backing" an Android tablet?

        There's only one reason that I can think of: revenue. Perhaps, above and beyond what they normally get from their Linux corporate shakedowns. And, presumably, from a cut of media sales (books, and remember that B & N will be offering videos soon).

        "I thought for sure that when MS settled with B&N, the new tablets would run WP8. Why not?

        Because WP8 is a smartphone operating system. As for Windows RT, I expect to see some Windows RT-based tablets at B & N stores in the future. Perhaps, B & N will even switch their tablets to Windows RT and ditch Android. This would reduce their development costs, no?

        P.S. Don't you agree that it is a major *FAIL* that Apple, Google and Amazon have ignored multi-user support for their tablets? Especially since iOS is UNIX-based and Android is Linux-based?
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • I agree, but never thought about it

          In my "defense" I will say that my children are grown and hence it is a non-issue at our house. Some kind of log-in screen for multiple users does make a lot of sense, since tablets, in my experience, end up laying around on coffee tables etc. for anyone to use for quick web access and games.

          I really like what I have read so far about these new Nooks, the only reservation being the proprietary dock connector required for HDMI. Being rather "independent minded" when it comes to my HW and SW, I am hoping that the nice folks at XDA will take a keen interest in these two tablets. I could see myself getting one of each.
  • Great

    This nook tablet sounds great!
  • Nook

    My wife owns the color tablet and she LOVES IT! The free books every Friday ... having a brick and mortar store to go to ... streaming NetFlix ... Amazon ... support for audio LIBRARY books ... email ... are all are tremendous on it. This new 9" HD will be a must have. Not to mention the pricing ... NO WAY would I be tied into Apple/Google for a tablet.
    • The only issue I see with it

      Is that right now and probably for a few months after it comes out it won't be rootable to run "full" Android. That being said I'm seriously considering getting a Nook HD+ to play with... I love my Nook Color and I considered the Nook Tablet to be an incremental upgrade to it but this is a muh more tempting device.
  • Nook HD

    My wife and I have had Nook Colors ever since they came out in November of 2010, and apart from a chintzy USB charging/link cable design, they have been rock solid for reading, browsing, watching Netflix, and even though the apps are limited, I've found that I can use it daily with Evernote and have all content appear on my Nook, my laptop, and my android phone seamlessly. To have this kind of capability without ads (Kindle) or forking over twice as much money (iPad or MS Surface), gives me hope for B&N for the long run. I can now see my upgrade path pretty clearly.
  • proprietary charging cables

    Boo! A year ago, after returning my Nook Tablet and getting a Lenovo k-1, now running Jellybean, I had second thoughts about whether I should have kept the NT as I actually prefer the smaller size for my uses. But the B&N control over use issues made me move on. But this proprietary connector issue is a deal stopper for any thought about returning to B&N. That's still my only gripe about my Lenovo. I bought it "on the rebound" and didn't really check into the connector issue.