If you haven’t already heard the big new that every tech website on the web is posting about today, Barnes and Noble has announced that they will be releasing a co-branded tablet with Samsung this August.
That in itself isn’t a bad idea for a struggling B&N that has experienced declining tablet sales over the past couple of years. They don’t have to design a new tablet and be responsible for making their own hardware. Instead they have the luxury of relying on one of the largest and most well-known tablet manufactures in the business.
The biggest issue that I have is B&N isn’t going to release their own custom Nook device. They are going to use Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4, which I just happened to review so I’m very familiar with that particular tablet, especially after going in-depth with a 50 tips and tricks article and video this morning (weird timing).
I really like the Galaxy Tab 4. The hardware is solid and if feels like a quality tablet. But the best thing about it is Samsung’s custom user interface. It has a cleaner look than stock Android and offers some extra features like being able to have two apps open at once.
But B&N isn’t going to use Samsung’s software, they are going to use their own custom Nook software with the Galaxy Tab 4 hardware. Samsung has been developing their own custom software for years with phones and tablets. It’s really going to be hard for B&N to create something that gives customers a reason to choose the Nook Tab 4 over the regular Galaxy Tab 4 that’s already available for purchase right now.
Another problem with that idea of using the Galaxy Tab 4’s hardware is the screen. Personally I like the screen and think it looks pretty good. But there’s the fact that it has lower resolution than B&N’s current 7-inch tablet, the Nook HD. When it comes to ereading, higher resolution is always better because it helps make text appear sharper and clearer. So B&N is going to be going backwards on that front, from a tablet they released nearly 2 years prior, no less.
The Galaxy Tab 4 does offer some advantages over the Nook HD, no doubt. It has a zippier quad-core processor opposed to a dual-core processor. And it has front and rear cameras; the Nook HD has neither. But otherwise things are very similar as far as hardware features.
Another possible issue is going to be the price, which B&N hasn’t announced yet. Right now the Nook HD sells for a measly $129. The Galaxy Tab 4 retails for $199. How is B&N going to sell a tablet with a lower resolution screen for $70 more? Why wouldn’t people just buy a regular Galaxy Tab 4 to begin with?
I don’t know. The partnership with Samsung is a good idea, but I wish B&N could have found a way to customize the hardware to their needs a little more. On the software side, their main goal is to showcase B&N’s selection of books, magazines and newspapers. I already have access to all that on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 with the Nook Android app. Why would people want to buy a Nook device for something that they can have on just about any Android tablet?
That better be some really stellar custom Nook software…