Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Barnes & Noble Takes Aim at Amazon With New HD Nooks

Yesterday, Barnes & Noble revealed its plans for a Nook-branded online video store.

Today, the company is showing off the products it hopes you’ll be watching that video on: New Nook tablets, called the Nook HD and Nook HD+.

The Nook HD is a seven-inch tablet, while the Nook HD+ is a larger, nine-inch device. Both are lightweight, have high-resolution displays and are running on “forked,” or modified, versions of Google Android’s 4.0 operating system.

The tablets are available for preorder today, and are expected to hit stores in early November. They’ll range in price from $199 to $299, depending on size and storage.

If you’re getting a sense of deja vu reading this, it might be because you followed the Amazon event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, at which the company unveiled its own new seven- and nine-inch tablets with HD displays.

What do you mean, you can’t keep all these HD tablets straight?

In truth, as the tablet market gets increasingly crowded, it gets more difficult to set some of these devices apart, aside from the obvious branding. So AllThingsD went ahead and made a couple of charts that show how these two compare with the Kindle Fire HD, Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and the new iPad.

(More after the charts …)

A few things worth noting: These comparison charts leave out some other features, like microSD, HDMI and USB ports, NFC capabilities, and speaker and camera specs. Also, as manufacturers boast better and brighter displays, you might see more references to PPI (pixel density) and IPS (In-Plane Switching display technology), said to support better viewing angles and richer colors.

And, these are battery life claims from the companies, not the results of our own tests. Battery life tests can vary quite a bit, and in Walt Mossberg’s reviews of the iPad 3 and seven-inch Kindle Fire HD, he wrote that the Kindle Fire lasted for nine hours and 28 minutes, about half an hour less than the iPad, and more than an hour less than the Nexus. The battery claims for the new Nooks are based on tests in which the display brightness is dimmed to around 50 percent, for what it’s worth.

The biggest differentiating factor between these devices has nothing to do with hardware, though; it’s the app ecosystem.

Barnes & Noble, which has seen growth in its digital content business despite disappointing device sales, says there are currently 10,000 Nook-specific apps available. This is a fraction of the apps available in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, though Barnes & Noble points out that the key apps you’d expect to see — popular social, media, music, productivity and gaming apps — are all there.

The Kindle Fire HD, as Walt noted in his column, also offers only a fraction of the third-party apps available on either the iPad, the Nexus 7 and other standard Android tablets.

Is the Nook app store on a new, attractive, competitively-priced tablet enough to lure consumers? Barnes & Noble Nook sure hopes so.

Update: A previous version of the charts contained an error, which showed the seven-inch Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 displays with a 1280 by 1800 resolution, instead of the correct 1280 by 800.

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