The Nook Tablet, Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle, is a stylish looking seven-inch device that exists in that middle ground between a full-on tablet computer and a one-function e-reader.
While some technologies that try to bring you a little from column A and a little from column B, attempting to be the best of both worlds, so to speak, end up failing on all accounts, the Nook Tablet does a formidable job bridging the gap between a reading device and a full-fledged tablet computer.
The tablet features that you don’t get are mostly washed away in the savings you get compared to a fancier tablet computer. Compared to the $500 and up price tag attached to higher powered tablets, the Nook is a relative steal, costing you somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.
A good tablet for Barnes & Noble book worshipers, but little else as standard
The Nook is the perfect choice for those that mostly want reader and book functionality out of their handheld gizmo, with that focus complemented by a fully functional web browser and some fair video and music capabilities.
Where the Nook fails is as a device for those that want to have the power of the full tablet experience, complete with all the applications that would be available on most Android devices or Apple products, from the Google Play and iTunes stores, respectively.
These failings come with a silver lining for tech geeks or anyone who isn’t afraid to follow some (rather complicated) technical instructions – but we’ll get to that more in a bit.
The problem for the Nook Tablet is that the operating system that comes standard on the machine is pretty limited. It is technically an Android-powered OS, but it has been customized specifically for Barnes and Noble and many of the normal Android goodies have been disabled, most notably access to Google products and services.
The web browser is good, and access to Netflix and Hulu a huge plus
All the basics are there, there’s a decent web browser, access to music services like Pandora and Spotify, and video service capability from Netflix and Hulu. But compared to the vast amount of application options available to most Android users, the Nook Tablet paled in comparison.
Without being able to access Google applications like gmail, Google calendar, etc, the Nook’s functionality as a productivity tool is basically nil. This isn’t entirely true, as there is a proprietary Barnes and Noble app store that has a handful (thousands really) of semi-useful apps.
But for anyone looking for a specific application or just generally accustomed to the smorgasbord of app offers available on other devices, the Nook just doesn’t match up and is more or less equivalent to its chief rival, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, except the Kindle Fire has access to Amazon’s digital music and movie library, while the Barnes and Noble store is primarily just books.
The Micro SD card slot is a great addition to an otherwise locked down tablet
However, the Nook Tablet differs from the Kindle Fire in one important respect. Hidden down in the lower right corner of the Nook is a small portal for a micro SD card. This feature is a super nice addition for anyone that wants to be able to store extra music or movies beyond the Nook’s 8 or 16 BG capacity (depending on which model you purchase).
But the SD card feature has an arguably more important purpose for those that are frustrated with limited nature of the stock OS. Armed with an SD card and some tech savvy (or the ability to get up to speed by reading the experts) you can install the latest Android OS – Jelly Bean – giving you access to all the cool things that generally come with Android gadgets.
Overall the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet is a solid invenstement for those who are either tied to the Nook Store, or those who want a fresh looking tablet with an SD slot to boot custom ROM’s on to. Whatever the case, Barnes & Noble have come up with a tablet which stands out from all of the cold dark slabs on the market, and for that they get extra marks. The tablet is fast enough, is a dream for developers with thanks to that SD slot, and is fine for basic web browsing as standard. It isn’t a Nexus 7, nor is it an iPad Mini, but it does have its quirks.
Rating: (7/10). Image credit.
Dan Palma likes to fiddle around with the latest gadgets and occasionally even uses them to get work done. He is a business and technology writer whose content appears courtesy of Smart Source Rentals, experts in audio and video equipment rentals for businesses.
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