Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Tablet at $249 as Kindle Fire rival
The Nook Tablet is now on pre-order and will ship to Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (Target, Staples, Wal-Mart, Office Max and many others) late next week at a price of $249 -- about $50 more than the Kindle Fire.
But for the extra $50, the Nook Tablet offers beefier specs than the Kindle Fire that, Chief Executive William Lynch argued in unveiling the new Barnes & Noble device will add up to a faster, smoother experience when reading books, playing games or watching movies.
So just what are those increased specs?
The Nook Tablet gets 16 gigabytes of built-in storage and 1 gigabyte of RAM. The Nook Color, which used to sell for $249 but was cut in price to $199 on Monday, has 8 gigabytes of storage and 512 megabytes of RAM.
Both Nook devices feature the same 7-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and a microSD card slot that can accommodate up to 32-gigabytes of added storage.
The Kindle Fire features Nook-Color-matching specs with a 7-inch touch screen, a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, 8 gigabytes of built-in storage and 512-megabytes of RAM. Amazon's tablet has no microSD card slot.
The Nook Tablet will offer up to 11.5 hours of battery life, which beats the Kindle Fire's promise of an 8-hour battery life.
Each of the three tablets run on modified versions of Google's Android Gingerbread operating system and connect to the Internet over wi-fi, with no 3G or 4G options offered. All three also make use of cloud storage, with the Nook Tablet and Nook Color syncing to the Nook Cloud service and the Kindle Fire using Amazon Cloud Drive.
Unlike the Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Nook Color have no built-in storefront for buying movies and music.
Lynch said that while Amazon sells those items, Barnes & Noble is focused on selling digital reading content, while letting others handle the music, TV show and film side of things -- such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora which all come pre-installed on the Nook Tablet.
"The Kindle Fire is a vending machine for Amazon services, they've said it themselves," he said at the company's flagship store in New York's Union Square during the Nook Tablet reveal. "In one word, we're more open" in allowing users to get their music and video content from wherever they want.
Amazon, meanwhile, has marketed its services as a strength of the Kindle Fire and not a detractor.
As far as styling, the Nook Tablet looks exactly like the Nook Color, save for a different shade of gray paint adorning the face of the device. The single black bar home button and rounded hook on one corner remain in place, as does a soft-touch rubberized back.
Will the Nook Tablet and Nook Color combo be enough to stem Amazon's tablet domination plans? Tell us what you think in the comments.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble, holds the new Nook Tablet at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York, on Nov. 7, 2011. Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters