Amazon and Barnes & Noble changed the way people consume literature when they introduced their Kindle and Nook e-readers in 2007 and 2009, respectively, igniting a trend that could be considered a precursor to today’s tablet industry. The online retail giant produced a follow-up to its first tablet called the Kindle Fire HD earlier this month, and now Barnes & Noble is countering with its own new line of Nook tablets, called Nook HD and Nook HD+.
On Wednesday, America's largest book retailer quietly announced its 7-inch Nook HD and its 9-inch Nook HD+ tablets, aimed to compete in this holiday season's arms race alongside tech heavyweights Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Barnes & Noble reps boasted that at 315 grams, the Nook HD is the “lightest 7-inch tablet on the market,” showcasing the device alongside Google’s Nexus 7 for comparison, according to The Verge. The book retailer emphasized its fresh line of Nooks are designed to function as both a personal and shared device, likening the experience to “having multiple devices in one.”
The Nook HD features a display resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, which is higher pixel count than the flagship tablets from both Google and Amazon. Barnes & Noble's offering is said to feature a display is better lamented to the device than its rivals, resulting in higher-quality images. The HD+ version of the tablet increases the pixel resolution to 1920 x 1280, and Barnes & Noble reps also brought out a new iPad alongside the 9-inch tab for further comparison.
The dual-core OMAP 4470 processor clocks in at 1.3GHz on the 7-inch device ,and 1.5GHz for the 9-inch. Both contain 1GB of RAM and up to 10 hours of reading on a single charge. As for storage, the Nook HD allows users to store between 8GB and 16GB of content, which can be expanded through a microSD. This is the same with the Nook HD+, but it also comes in a 32GB version.
Both Barnes & Noble tablets are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible and have seen a battery upgrade from its predecessor, which was powered with 4,000mAH. The 7-inch tab has a battery lifeof 4,050mAh, while the 9-inch boasts 6,000mAh.
In addition to the spec-bumped hardware, Barnes & Noble will be endowing its new devices its own iteration of Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich mobile operating system. This move is similar to what Amazon's decision to implant a heavily-modified version of the Android 4.0 operating system into Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tabs -- a feature that's become known as “Amdroid.”
While the Nook has seen some significant changes and upgrades since the e-reader’s introduction, Barnes & Noble seems to keep its focus on literary material. Magazines are being upgraded to HD sizes for the Nook HD+, and a new Catalogs app allows users to browse through pages digitally.
The user interface on the Nook HD devices is simple and geared towards reading, with a revolving selection of book titles displayed toward the top of the screen. The Shop also makes reading recommendations with an engine that is similar to Pandora, offering new ideas for content that may seem suitable for the user.
Since Barnes & Noble is implementing its modified Android software into these tablets, users will not get the Google Play experience that other mobile devices promise. Instead, the Nook HD and HD+ come equipped with Barnes & Nobles’ proprietary set of curated apps.
Although the interface emphasizes reading, the Nook will also be getting more variety in the video department as well. The Nook Video Store enables owners to rent or purchase HD movies, and a feature similar to Whispersync lets users sync their place across devices.
RELEASE DATE AND PRICE
Barnes & Noble didn’t specify exactly when the new Nooks would be available, but said the HD tabs would launch "this fall."
The Nook HD will be priced at $199, the same selling point as Google’s Nexus 7. Barnes & Noble will sell the Nook HD+ for $269.
Lisa Eadicicco is a reporter covering mobile technology and video games for The International Business Times. Lisa joined the editorial team at IBT in January 2012, and has...