Nook Tablet: The heat is on for the Kindle Fire

Holiday shoppers are going to have to make some tough decisions this year if they are looking for a tablet.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

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.


Editorial standards