Barnes & Noble comes out swinging with new Nook Tablet
Barnes & Noble came out swinging at the Kindle Fire Monday, introducing the new Nook Tablet at an event in New York. The new tablet, which looks much like the year-old Nook Color but with upgraded internal specs, will be available in B&N stores on Nov, 17, two days after Amazon is to begin shipping advance orders of the Fire. The Nook Tablet will be $249 and the Nook Color will remain available, now for $199.
Specs revealed at the event show the Nook Tablet will have an advantage over the Kindle Fire in many ways. It has a more powerful, dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM twice the storage capacity at 16GB, with the ability to add 32GB of additional storage through an microSD card slot. The 7-inch display has been upgraded to a "VividView" touchscreen with claims of less glare and more viewing angles than other tablet displays on the market. It's also lighter, weighing 14.1 ounces or about 0.5 ounces lighter than Kindle Fire, and is rated for nine hours of video playback with 11.5 hours of reading time. It comes with a built-in microphone, email, web browser and the Nook Newstand, allowing users to subscribe to magazines and newspapers.
B&N CEO William Lynch went for some body blows on Amazon while comparing the two tablets at the event and referred to the original Nook Color as the second-best selling tablet behind the iPad.
"Kindle Fire is deficient for a media tablet. Content will render better on Nook than on Kindle Fire." ~ William Lynch, B&N CEO
In addition to the improved specs the Nook Tablet has obviously been redesigned for use as an all-around entertainment device with up to 1080p HD video support. Deep integration with Netflix is included and the Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora Android apps will ship with the device. The WiFi-only device also will come with free WiFi access in B&N stores and at AT&T WiFi hotspots.
Although the Nook Tablet will be running a hybrid version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, it will not offer access to the Android Market. This was the same case with the Nook Color and also will be the case with the Kindle Fire. The advantage the Nook Tablet and Nook Color have, however, is their ability to be rooted for full Android access (if you want that) and they also can be set up to dual-boot with Android running on a microSD card in the slot.
Another point Lynch made was the lack of Amazon's face-to-face customer support as compared to B&N's 700 retail stores, which he said would offer free technical support to Nook customers.
"Where will you go for Kindle Fire (support), Amazon in Seattle?" ~ William Lynch, B&N CEO
B&N also dropped the price of the Nook Color to $199 and said it will soon have more than 100 enhancements through an over-the-air update to existing owners due to be available before the end of the year. For those who don't want multimedia and web capabilities, B&N also dropped the price of its Simple Touch E Ink-based eReader from $139 to $99. The Simple Touch also will be about 25% faster than when the product originally was released and have an improved display.
Lynch further criticized Amazon for their product approach, calling the Kindle Fire “a vending machine for Amazon’s services.” He also slammed them for selling ad-supported versions of their devices at a discount.
It's clear the Kindle Fire is designed to provide access to Amazon's cloud services and to attract customers they are offering some good perks to those who have an Amazon Prime account. The hardware specs on the Nook Tablet, however, look very good and it will be interesting to see how Amazon reacts to this latest round of punches from B&N.