The Nook Tablet was originally slated for release today, November 18th. It ended up arriving in stores a few days early—score!—so I canceled my pre-order and went down to my local Barnes and Noble store and picked one up.
Thanks to a loophole that allows the installation of third-party Android apps without a hack, the Nook Tablet turned out being a lot cooler than I expected it would be. I’m sure glad I don’t have to choose between it and the Kindle Fire :).
On the outside the Nook Tablet looks pretty much identical to its younger brother the Nook Color. It shares the same shape and design, and even fits into the Nook Color’s cover perfectly. Taking a closer look, some differences start to jump out.
First, the Nook Tablet is noticeably lighter. And the screen is one solid piece without a divider at bottom above the “n” button. The frame is gray-colored instead of charcoal and has a layer of soft coating over the top. Lastly, the Nook Tablet has a small hole on the top edge for the microphone.
When you turn both devices on and start comparing them, they are again very similar at first glance. With the exception of a few tweaks here and there, the user interface remains largely the same, and the ebook reading experience that each offers is almost identical.
It’s when you start comparing them side-by-side that the differences start becoming more obvious. The Nook Tablet reacts faster in all regards. The menus load quicker, scrolling is more fluid, and all the tablet-related aspects are faster and smoother: games, videos, web browsing, even shopping the Nook store. There is no lagging whatsoever, even while running a live wallpaper for the background, something the Nook Color struggles with mightily.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about the Nook Tablet…yet. A lot of people are complaining about the 1GB of onboard memory allotted for non-B&N content, but the memory card slot adds an extra 32GB of removable storage so I’m not seeing the problem. Having a memory card slot is a huge bonus. I, for one, can’t wait for an Android 4.0 ROM for the Nook Tablet. That’s gonna be sweet.
If B&N closes the loophole that allows installing non-B&N apps, then I’ll start complaining. I don’t see them doing that, though, especially since the Kindle Fire allows outside apps too. Plus it benefits B&N by making their tablet more open to people who don’t want to have a tablet locked-in to one content source. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.