It was only a matter of days until Barnes & Noble unveiled their own rival to Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire HD device, which was announced earlier this month. The device isn’t innovative, rather a direct sucker punch in the stomach to Amazon.
8.9-inch Nook HD+
The Nook HD+ features an 8.9-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 resolution display comparable to Amazon’s latest creation. Like the latter, it’s laminated to prevent glare and improve viewing angles. Aside from the rather impressive, but copycat, screen, the Nook HD+ runs a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and features 1 GB of memory.
The bookseller manages to out price the Kindle Fire HD by offering a 16 GB version of the Nook HD+ for only $269, substantially less than Amazon’s offering. A bigger 32 GB model is available for $299, further beating their competition on dollar figure.
Interestingly, the Nook’s processor and memory runs slightly faster than the Kindle Fire HD+’s chip, which is likely due to the increased demand imposed by the display.
While it appears zippy, performance benchmarks have yet to be released. But one could conjure that the Nook HD+ gives Amazon a run for their money. Software will likely make the difference; given both devices opt for a highly customized Android build.
Unfortunately, the Nook HD+ wasn’t as loud or crisp as Amazon’s Kindle, which is a drawback if you plan to watch movies or listen to music without headphones. However, Barnes & Noble ups the ante with battery life, offering 9-hours of runtime on both the 8.9 and 7-inch variants.
7-inch Nook HD
The 7-inch version includes a slightly less powerful 1.3 GHz processor, identical to the 8.9-inch tablet but at a lower clock speed. The display is quite impressive, measuring 1,440 x 900 pixels, which is higher than both the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.
Both of the tablets include a microSD card for expandable storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a rather large battery. The Nook HD has a 4,050 mAh battery, whereas its beefier sibling has a 6,000 mAh battery. Unlike the Nook HD+, however; the Nook HD only comes in a 16 GB variant.
Like Amazon, Barnes and Noble opts for a heavily modified version of Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. But users won’t realize they are using Android – that’s how much the company tweaks the UI. It is essentially a copycat – or MiniMe – of Amazon’s experience. They are trying to establish their own app and media ecosystem, similar to Amazon, which now has a rather mature marketplace to rival iTunes.
The Nook HD and Nook HD+ are no doubt powerful devices, but they do not have the looks to complement the hardware. The plastic build – and cheesy hole – on the device leave it feeling cheap. While it is utilitarian, it lacks the premium look and feel consumers need.
The hole on the original Nook works for its purpose – an affordable eReader you can take everywhere. But when applied to premium tablets, it doesn’t work. You are not going to attach a lanyard to the device, nor a wristband, so what’s the point?
Ever since the original Kindle came out, Barnes and Noble has been playing catch-up. Aside from their Glow eReader, it’s a cyclical event. Amazon releases a new Kindle, B&N rivals with a copycat. It’s a very poor business model, to say the least.