Barnes & Noble Enters Tablet Market
If you are in the market for a tablet this holiday season, you’re in luck.
There are more choices and lower prices than ever before.
Last week, I told you about the new $199 Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. This week, I’ll tell you about another inexpensive entry to the tablet world — the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet. Like the Fire, the Nook tablet is an e-book reader that has been expanded into the tablet arena with the addition of the ability to handle email, Web browsing, video, music and apps.
Like the Fire, the Nook has a 7-inch color touch screen and accesses the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection. At $249, the Nook tablet is $50 more than the Kindle Fire but has several features not found in the Fire. It has a microphone, 16 GB of memory (vs the Fire’s 8 GB) and a built-in microSD card slot for additional memory.
While the additional memory on the Nook is quite a draw, it is a little misleading. Of the 16 GB of storage on the device, only 1 GB of that space is available to users for things such as music and videos. Three gigabytes are used by the operating system, and 12 gigabytes are reserved for content purchased from Barnes & Noble’s store.
The Fire lets you put your music, videos and documents in the Amazon cloud storage, so you don’t need as much memory with the Fire.
Like the Fire, the Nook tablet runs on the Android operating system but has a customized overlay so it looks and acts nothing like the operating system on a standard Android tablet. The Nook interface is nice and simple, but I liked the interface on the Fire slightly better.
I also liked the Web browser on the Fire better since it took fewer clicks to get things done. Yet the Nook tablet is slightly more customizable, with the ability to add and move more icons and to do things like choose your own wallpaper.
If you have children, the microphone on the Nook tablet is actually quite useful. It not only allows you to play games that use a microphone, but also the Nook includes software that lets you record a reading of a children’s book in your own voice.
This lets a traveling parent or an out-of-state grandparent record their voices on the Nook tablet and read the story to the children when the adult is traveling or otherwise absent. You will also find that the Nook tablet has more children’s books that are nicely displayed on the color screen.
When you compare the Amazon Fire with the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet, you will find that available content is very important. I compared several of the best-selling books at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble and found them almost identically priced.
Both online books stores offer free books and the ability to lend e-books from local libraries. Both offer the ability to borrow books from friends who own a similar device. They both have audio books that can be listened to on their devices.
I found that Amazon has a better selection of inexpensive books. There are plenty of Kindle books available in the 99 cents to $3.99 price range. But Barnes & Noble is also starting to expand its selections of inexpensive titles.
It should be noted that for the most part, the Amazon Kindle books and Barnes & Noble Nook books are incompatible. You cannot purchase from one online store and play them back on the tablet from the other manufacturer.
If listening to music on your tablet is important, you may want to choose the Fire because the Amazon music selection, playback and ease-of-use is far superior to that of the Nook tablet. Amazon has its own music player and music store, while the Nook tablet uses third-party music players, has no music store and has only monorail audio, compared with the Fire’s stereo speakers.
Amazon also has its own video store for playing videos on the Fire, while Barnes & Noble relies on third-party apps such as Netflix and Hulu.
Neither the Fire nor the Nook has cameras or a GPs system like the Apple iPad. Like the iPad, each of these devices has its own app store for downloading apps for playing games and for extending the functionality of the tablets.
Yet, neither one has anywhere near the same number of apps that are available from the Apple iTunes store. But there are enough apps to keep the average user happy. Also, you will find that doing things like getting your contacts into the device is much easier on an iPad or a full-blown Android tablet.
While you can’t do everything with these new tablets, both the Amazon Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet are great little economical devices that can bring you hours of enjoyment.
Contact Sandy Berger at email@example.com.
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