It’s proven a busy month for mobile-device releases. First Nokia whipped back the curtain from the Lumia 820 and 920, its first Windows Phone 8 devices. The very next day, Amazon unveiled its new line of Kindle devices, including the Kindle Fire HD. Not to be outdone, Apple executives took to a stage in San Francisco the next week to show off the iPhone 5, complete with a larger screen and faster processor.
But September’s not over yet, and the releases keep coming: Barnes & Noble has launched a pair of HD tablets, the Nook HD and Nook HD+, designed to maintain the bookseller’s toehold in the tablet space.
The Nook HD features a 7-inch display (1440 x 900 resolution), a dual-core 1.3GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, expandable microSD storage, an 11.1-ounce weight, and advertised battery life of 10.5 hours of reading and 9 hours of video. In its publicity materials, Barnes & Noble didn’t exactly pull its punches against archrival Amazon, claiming the Nook HD is 20 percent lighter, a half-inch narrower, and armed with a sharper-resolution screen than the Kindle Fire HD.
The Nook HD’s 8GB and 16GB models will retail for $199 and $299, respectively.
The Nook HD+ includes a 9-inch display (1920 x 1280 resolution), weighs 18.2 ounces, and is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor paired with 1GB RAM. The 16GB version will retail for $269, and the 32GB version for $299. The Nook HD+ offers battery life between 9 and 10 hours’ worth of reading and video, depending on whether the built-in WiFi is activated.
Both tablets will ship in late October, with store availability in early November. Barnes & Noble isn’t just targeting the market for the Kindle Fire; in a Sept. 26 statement, CEO William J. Lynch emphasized the new Nooks’ ability to deliver a quality experience “at half the price of the iPad.”
Barnes & Noble is offering a variety of new cloud-based services, including a new streaming video service (a number of studios are onboard), an expanded library of e-books, and the ability to shop partners’ product catalogs. Users’ content is stored in the Nook Cloud.
The question is whether the Nook, even with upgraded hardware and new services, can successfully punch above its weight against the iPad and Kindle Fire, which are widely perceived as the dominant devices in the tablet market.
Streaming video and a collection of apps could help raise the new Nooks’ attractiveness in the eyes of potential buyers. But all that being said, the Nook HD and Nook HD+ are two more entrants into what’s become an exceptionally crowded competitive arena, and they face some popular and well-funded competitors.
Image: Barnes & Noble