Barnes & Noble Unveils New Tablets: Nook HD and Nook HD+

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Nook HD

Today Barnes and Noble pulled the wraps off two new Nook tablets, a 7-inch model and a 9-inch model, both with an emphasis on “HD”. They are already up for pre-order in the United States from Barnes and Noble.com, and will also be available in the UK in early November.

The big news with Barnes and Noble’s new tablets is the high quality, high resolution screens. In fact the 7-inch Nook HD has the highest resolution screen of any 7-inch tablet to date at 1,440 x 900, besting the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 by 27 pixels per inch.

The Nook HD+ is the first Nook to have a larger 9-inch screen, and it has an even higher pixel density than the 7-inch Nook with a 1920 x 1280 resolution screen.

Both new Nook’s are based on Android 4.0, but have a modified interface, which has been completely re-designed from early Nooks. Once again the new Nooks are locked into Barnes and Noble’s ecosystem, which is fine for ebooks and magazines because they have a plentiful selection, but the Nook appstore is still majorly lacking.

Here’s a look at the specs for each model.

Nook HD

  • 7-inch IPS LCD
  • 1,440 x 900 resolution (243 ppi)
  • Dual-Core 1.3GHz TI OMAP 4470 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB/16GB storage space, plus microSD card slot for cards up to 32GB
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • HDMI port (requires dongle)
  • Battery: 10.5 hours of reading, 9 hours video
  • Dimensions: 194.4 x 127.1 x 11 mm
  • Weight: 11.1 ounces (315 grams)
  • Price: $199 (8GB), $229 (16GB)

Nook HD+

  • 9-inch IPS LCD
  • 1,920 x 1,280 resolution (256 ppi)
  • Dual-Core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 Processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB/32GB storage space, plus microSD card slot for cards up to 32GB
  • Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • HDMI port (requires dongle)
  • Battery: 10 hours of reading, 9 hours video
  • Dimensions: 240.3 x 162.8 x 11.5 mm
  • Weight: 18.2 ounces (515 grams)
  • Price: $269 (16GB), $299 (32GB)

Here’s a roundup of early YouTube videos showing the new Nook HD and Nook HD+.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD and HD+ hands-on

Nook HD and Nook HD+ preview from Consumer Reports

Nook HD 7-inch Android tablet, hands-on

Nook HD and Nook HD+

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27 Responses to “Barnes & Noble Unveils New Tablets: Nook HD and Nook HD+”

  1. 32GB Nook HD+ 9″ for $299. If they root it, I will buy. Looks like some impressive features, although I can’t say I love either device’s physical design.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Looks like some nice hardware for the price, but the software…oh don’t get me started on B&N’s closed-in approach. I meant to fit this in the article somewhere but the fact is B&N has only 1% the app selection as Google and about 12% the app selection as Amazon.

  2. The “HDMI port” is either a huge blunder by the marketing team (and the BN web pages) or they showed vastly different models to the rest of the press. (e.g., the Engaget & Verge videos above. )

    Most “hands on” reports are highlighting that there is a proprietary 30-pin connector on these devices. HDMI only comes after attaching an adapter. (adapter flashes by at 1:42-1:46 in the Verge video. Proprietary slot 2:00 in Engaget video.)

    Perhaps these are “development” models and B&N will change the bottom connectors before launch, but it looks like they are down playing the multipurpose slot on the bottom in the press release specs.

    • I thought something was fishy with the HDMI port, and I bet you are right about it requiring a special and probably expensive adapter. It just says HDMI at B&N, nothing about being a mini or micro connection like most other tablets, and I’m pretty sure it would be about impossible to fit a full size port on a tablet that’s only .43″ thick.

      • Here is a bigger (perennial for Nook) question: what about microphone and camera?

        I have not seen any mentioning of either in the press release. It looks like camera is probably not there (tough but bearable) but lack of microphone would be a killer. Since they approach their devices as “ereader” tablets they think they can get away with lack of mic but in reality it’d be a huge shortcoming for such a strong hardware set.

        • There’s definitely no camera on either model, but I lean on the side of it having a mic even though they don’t mention it because they have this feature where you can record your voice reading certain children’s books…unless they are quietly dropping that.

        • A microphone was a selling point in their first generation Nook Tablet … it allowed the “read to me” ability, where parents could record themselves reading pages of children books and kids can listen when they turn the pages.

          And, googling for “Nook HD microphone”, sure enough, according to slashgear, who had a reporter at the Monday demonstration session, “B&N has squeezed in a microphone as well, allowing parents to record a narration of their child’s favorite ebook for subsequent playback.”.

    • A hands-on at Liliputing confirms the 30 pin connector and required dongle for HDMI.

    • Yes, that is their HDMI port ~ a dongle on the proprietary connector.

      The main point of the proprietary connector is surely to correct the failure-prone proprietary extended 1amp micro-USB connector, which surely ended up costing them quite a lot in returns and replacements, but the ability to include an HDMI out option was surely part of the decision.

  3. The 7″ Nook HD lacks a lot in the design department, IMO. It is not bad, but it is no better looking than the other 7″ tablets on the market. The design was really something that set Nook apart from the mass of 7″ tablets. I really wish they had kept a more unique design. Sometimes inferior hardware can be redeemed a little if your design is great…..not saying that the hardware is inferior…but the software leaves a lot to be desired when you are marketing the product as a tablet and not a e-reader.

    • I think the main focus of the 7in HD design is the feel held in a single hand, and going with their popular Nook Simple Touch layout with the sculpted back, combined with being lighter than either the 7ni Kindletab HD or the Nexus7 “SD” has been getting a lot of positive press in coverage so far. Some people hold a 7in skinnytab on a corner, some on an edge, some across the back, and reports from people who’ve held them in their hand are positive.

    • “…but the software leaves a lot to be desired when you are marketing the product as a tablet and not a e-reader. …”

      While they may mention ‘tablet’ somewhat in the text on the marketing/sales webpages, there are a couple of changes here.

      First, they removed “Tablet” from the name. Note it is the “Nook HD” and “Nook HD+”.

      Second, they didn’t chance the specs on camera

      Yes there is still an “apps store”, but that seems to be more of an “and you can also do …” than a top 5 feature.

      It is not solely an e-reader device, but it is being framed as a “media reader plus” device. Where media covers books, magazines, catalogs, comics, and video for now. If Video gets traction they’ll probably work on something for audio ( audiobooks , music, etc.) archiving in the “cloud” next. Direct assault on the iPod is not a priority right now.

      It doesn’t appear they are trying to engage in a “best tablet” contest. With the “family profile” feature, it looks more like the color ereader/media tablet that is oriented to content viewing, browsing, & buying.

  4. The B&N tech spec webpages seems to be a mix of old Nook Tablet specs and the new ones.

    The picture next to the HD and HD+ where it mentions HDMI has text incorporated into it saying “Micro-USB port (bottom)” . That is neither mentioned in the text to the right as a slot, or reflective of what the close up photos that have come out this morning.

    Hopefully, they clear this up before folks order it with the intention of hooking it to a TV and then later find out need another $15-25 to make it work.

    There are probably some technical merits to going with proprietary port. In some of the coverage, they mention faster charging. And there are all those 3rd party iPod 30 pin adapter folks with devices that perhaps can be modified now. :-)

  5. The size of their app store doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much as their refusal to allow side loading of apps. Amazon runs a forked Android, just like Nook, and they have their own walled-garden content ecosystem and their own app store… and they *don’t* cripple their devices by blocking app sideloading.
    That is the minimum level of functionality I would ever settle for on the Android side. The Nook hardware specs are fine, I like the size, weight, and aspect ratio, but the lockdown renders it all moot.
    Unacceptable.

    • I’m crossing my fingers and am hoping they learned from the mistake of closing off the Nook Tablet last year after it initially had the ability to sideload. That turned a lot of people in another direction for a tablet. I can understand from a support standpoint they don’t want to deal with everyone’s questions and problems with sideloaded apps, but if Amazon can do it so should B&N. On the Kindle Fire the app icons for sideloaded apps look terrible because they weren’t meant to be so large, but at least they work. B&N allows sideloading ebooks purchased elsewhere; I don’t see what the big deal is with allowing sideloaded apps. Given the combination of price and hardware, these new Nook HD tablets could be hugely popular if they weren’t locked down. The microSD card slot would put the Nook at the top for a lot of folks versus the Kindles and Nexus 7.

      • Sideloading apps means you can run Kindle and Kobo and Overdrive. And Amazon’s App store among others.
        The very reason we want sideloaded apps is why they *don’t* want to allow them.
        I’m not holding my breath.

      • Yes, I’m sure that they learned from the mistake of accidentally allowing it to sideload in the first release of the NTv1, and won’t repeat that mistake this time.

        People get ticked off losing “features”, even if they are features they were never promised by the seller and they were features that were clearly available by mistake.

  6. Forgive me for being a bit daft but I’m not sure why lack of camera and esp mic is a shortcoming? Isn’t this essentially an e-book reader that can also display other content like magazines, newspapers, other publications, Games and video?

    I think speakers are enough for such a device and its more important for these types of devices to be lightweight and great value and not cost as much as their rivals if they wish to take market share.

    I understand need for speakers even on the e-reader simple touch and glowlight because some people like to listen to a book being read instead of reading it but I don’t understand the whole mic thing?

    What would it be for or used for on such a device?

    I think they are positioning themselves pretty nicely in value section and will get a lot of people buying their devices over the festive season. I think they will be big winners. They will need to focus on content though especially apps.

    I am thinking of getting a glowlight or one of te HD tablets but still researching into it at the moment. The Nook is only just coming to the UK in the next month or two.

  7. My issue with Nook (I’ve had 4) is that in all these years they’ve not gotten their act together for borrowing library books. We still have to hook Nook up to a computer. Unless this is fixed, I won’t upgrade my Nook Tablet.

    • Using the free Overdrive app on the Nook Hd you can download Library books right to the Nook by WiFi without the computer.

  8. Yeah, I am quite confused about what to do here. I am super excited about the displays and having a tablet with an SD slot, but what would I do now that I am used to the Nexus 7? Could I really give up all of the Andriod reading apps I like to play around with? Could I really pay for apps that cost a dollar or two less at Google Play?

    Although I don’t really want to spend $500+ on a tablet, I will probably end up selling my iPad and getting the Asus Transformer Infinity. I just cant get myself to go with the HD+ as locked down as it is. Now, if some amazing genius figures out how to hack it, I am game. I have never rooted a device before, but I would immerse myself in the instructions and give it a try for an open Andriod 4.0 Nook HD+. Better yet, the N2A card guys could solve my problem with one purchase. If B&N ignores the massive amount of sales it gained from having easily hackable devices, I will have lost faith in them as a brand.

  9. I don’t know the exact teardown prices of components of these new Nook HD tablets, but the screens alone would make them not exactly the cheapest run-off-the-mill Chinese droids. They are selling them either at a loss per unit, or around break-even prices at best, IMHO – for the same reason that Kindle Fires are sold at such attractive prices (or indeed, phones on contracts) – they hope to recoup this lost revenue in content sales through the devices, later on. Simple as that – and because of that, they would be hard-pressed, to justify making new Nook HDs a hot-seller, just to enable people to get cool hardware at cool price, and enable them to wave goodbye to B&N’s ecosystem later on. What’s in it for them?

  10. BTW, it is hilarious, the shape of the screen of the seven-incher, with a white body on a white background – the thing looks EXACTLY like a bigger iPhone – lock, stock & barrel :).
    Just you wait ’till Apple lawyers take notice :)

  11. Just wanted to point out to all Nook owners that Barnes and Noble has recently made Overdrive Media Console available as a free app. This means one can check out and download library books directly to the Nook without having to plug it into a computer. I have done this and everything works without a hitch. I have previously pointed out that the same thing can be done with the Kindle if you first disable javascript in the settings of the experimental browser, however the process is much easier on the Nook using Overdrive.

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