Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

Summary: Holiday shoppers are going to have to make some tough decisions this year if they are looking for a tablet.


With the close launches of the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, it's easy to ask the question of whether or not consumers are going to buy into either Amazon or Barnes & Noble's ecosystems.

Considering I've already been using a Nook for awhile now, my books are tied into that platform. Thus, as a Nook user, I've been very curious to try out the Nook Tablet for myself.

See also: Nook Tablet reserves only 1GB of space for non-B&N content Nook Tablet ships with ‘big order volume’ but lacks numbers CNET: Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review

For starters, I should point out that I have not seen the Kindle Fire in person yet. Thus, my remarks shouldn't be read as to compare the two new Android tablets, hands-on. But I have had extensive experience using every Nook product before this as well as an iPad and a few other Android tablets, so you can draw your own conclusions from there.

That said, I still think based on other reviews that holiday shoppers looking for a tablet are going to have a tough time making a decision. Possibly for the first time ever, there are at least three great tablet options available: the iPad 2, the Kindle Fire, and the Nook Tablet. The decision becomes even more complicated because the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are fairly close in pricing.

But I'll explain why I think the Nook Tablet should be kept high in consideration.

The initial highlights on this device that simply can't be glossed over:

  • Display: Equipped with a 7-inch, multi-touch VividView IPS display that displays 16 million colors, the Nook Tablet is still so much brighter and clearer than the Nook Color, which was a great start in its own right a year ago. But what really gives the Nook Tablet a boost is that the screen is fully laminated, effectively eliminating air gaps and reducing reflection and glare while improving clarity.
  • Speed: After the display, this is the most noticeable upgrade on the Nook Tablet from its predecessor. The Nook Tablet runs on a Texas Instruments 1GHz dual-core processor with 1GB RAM. The page turns on books and magazines alike were so much swifter, smoother, and fluid than anything I've seen yet, with maybe the exception of the iPad. Both browsing the web and navigating apps have all become much faster and easier to do as well.
  • Video: This feature gets a boost mainly because of the two aforementioned specs. Like Amazon with the Kindle Fire, B&N is touting the Nook Tablet as a device dedicated to HD entertainment. And for the most part, it fulfills that promise. At first, I found that the streaming quality was only decent when I used the Netflix app to watch Alice In Wonderland. But I think that the blame there should be put on Netflix as when I streamed the latest HD trailer for The Hunger Games on YouTube within the browser, the playback quality was simply stellar.

There's been a lot of talk about the amount of storage space being the key differentiators with the Nook Tablet, but I found all of these qualities to be just as essential. (For those of you who might be concerned about keeping track of the amount of available storage space, whether it be for B&N purchases or your own content, those figures are displayed quite clearly in the Settings menu under "Device Info.")

I can't quite explain it, but there is something much more intuitive about this Nook Tablet rather than the UI on the Nook Color. Perhaps it is all of the other hardware and software qualities combined this time around that makes things click and erase all of the little quirks from B&N's first try at producing an Android tablet.

Of course, there are a few little personal problems I have here and there. For one, I find the touch screen to be almost too sensitive when moving around items on the home screen. Sometimes I'd accidentally pick up items without intention, so then I'd have to rearrange icons as I saw fit.

If there was at least one feature I could add to the Nook Tablet, considering that this is a device based on Android, it would be the ability to add accounts in the Settings menu like you can do with Android smartphones and tablets as well as Chromebooks. This way, my information can easily populate other programs, such as email...although that might be the only relevant app that could take advantage of that info for now anyway.

Of course, the Nook Tablet isn't a full-fledged Android tablet, but maybe (hopefully) we'll see something along those lines in the future.


Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

    Very nice article! You highlighted the three major benefits, other than storage, that I've noticed about NT.
  • RE: Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

    Kudos to Amazon for resisting the temptation to change the design of the tablet. It means all accesories (cases mostly) that worked for the old one will work for the new one.
  • RE: Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

    So, basically, you haven't even tried the Kindle Fire, but you 'somehow' *know* that the Nook is better, and your key pro-Nook argument is based on you already being tied into B&N? Nothing useful to add?

    Didn't think so.
    • Good job reading the title

      and then skipping straight to the comments section. If you read the actual review, she writes: " my remarks shouldn???t be read as to compare the two new Android tablets, hands-on" and "the decision becomes even more complicated because the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are fairly close in pricing" and "I???ll explain why I think the Nook Tablet should be kept high in consideration."

      Not once does she actually compare the Nook Tablet to the Kindle Fire and state one is better than the other. She *does* state that the Nook Tablet is better than the Nook Color, however. All she *knows* is that the Nook Tablet appears to be a viable alternative to the Kindle Fire.
  • What a waste of an article

    For starters, I should point out that I have not seen the Kindle Fire in person yet.<br><br>Since when do people who have not tried a product, suddenly become expert enough to write a product comparison?<br><br>Please stop writing articles based on second hand information. If you can't or don't have the time or money to try out something first hand - then you don't need to be writing about it. Period!
    • Comparison Was With Nook Color

      Perhaps if you knew how to read you would realize that she specifically said that this was not a comparison with the Kindle Fire. All the parallels that she drew were about the Nook Tablet compared to last year's Nook Color. She simply said that based on her experience the Nook Tablet was good enough not to be summarily dismissed.
  • Thanks for the review

    I do have both devices, Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. Between the 2, the page transitions are smoother on the Nook. I won't go into excrutiating details but basically their pros and cons make them equal out in total since they are both good in different ways. (Full disclosure: I love gadgets and I am gadget agnostic. I also don't put all value on specs but on the experience in total.)
  • RE: Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

    For me, what makes the difference is the expandable storage via SD on the Nook. However, I agree with you on the laminated screen on the Nook is great.
  • My netbook keeps looking better

    I <i>WAS[/] talking myself into buying a Nook Tablet as a convenient device between my Android smartphone and my netbook. Better than the smartphone, but less productive than my netbook. While I would use it primarily as an eReader, it also needs to eliminate the need for my netbook to justify taking it on short leisure trips.<br><br>I don't want the Amazon Fire because I knew it was locked to Amazon (and let's face it, Fire owners <i>will</i> for the most part be paying the $79 annual fee for Prime, eliminating the price difference). I also wanted more local storage because cloud doesn't work so well when you may not be able to access it for a few days.<br><br>This all assumed the Nook Tablet could be dual-booted to a more generic Android tablet like the Nook Color. That allows me to access my Kindle library while I transition to B&N, and like I said, otherwise fill in tasks for which I would otherwise use my netbook.<br><br>As B&N has blocked use of much of the Nook Tablet's storage from use however <i>I</i> want to use it, and (so far) eliminated that dual-boot capability, it looks like I will continue to haul my netbook. If I have to haul my netbook, I won't bother with the hassle of also hauling a tablet.</i>
    Jim Johnson
  • Side By Side: Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire

    The Nook Tablet's unique display has less reflectivity than the Kindle Fire's, and so is easier to read. In addition, some fonts and videos render more sharply on it than on the Fire. The dual-core 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 CPU and 1GB of RAM made switching from app to app a breeze, with little lag or stuttering. Movies played smoothly and stutter-free in Netflix, and the high-definition images re-rendered for Nook's 1024-by-600-pixel display looked lovely, with terrific contrast.
    The Nook Tablet's display was dazzling overall. The screen's glare was minimal, thanks to what Barnes & Noble calls its VividView display. The IPS display is laminated and bonded; so unlike on other tablets's displays--including the Kindle Fire's--there's no annoying, visible air gap between the glass screen and the LCD beneath.The Nook Tablet's home screen is highly customizable and provides quick access to apps and reading material.

    We streamed Netflix side by side with the Kindle Fire, and head-to-head comparisons were very favorable to the Nook--it simply looked better. Both tablets have the same app, but the Nook Tablet's picture looked more vivid and detailed. The Nook Tablet also has physical volume controls on the side, which come in handy--the Kindle Fire strangely lacks them. The screen, which is a higher-quality IPS display than the Kindle Fire, really shows off Netflix and Hulu Plus to amazing effect...
    It's the best screen on a budget tablet that I've ever seen. More storage--both onboard (16GB) and via microSD expansion--and the ability to read EPUB files could be big news for those who want flexibility. There's plenty of expansion room, and you'll have a hard time running out of space for your apps or your magazine downloads.

    Barnes & Noble???s one-year head start in developing software really shows: scrolling is smoother, the screen reorients itself faster and the device just generally feels zippier.