Barnes & Noble Enters Big Tablet Market with Nook HD

Barnes & Noble joins the big-size tablet war, introducing its new devices, the 7-inch Nook HD and the 9-inch Nook HD+.

At a private media event on Monday, New York-based Barnes & Noble, the largest traditional U.S. bookseller, unveiled a pair of new Nook tablets: the 7-inch Nook HD and the 9-inch Nook HD+. Photo: Barnes & Noble

The models can be roughly compared to the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, respectively. Barnes & Noble will start taking orders for the tablets on Wednesday and will reportedly have them in stock in stores by early November.

The devices go on sale at $269 for the 16GB model and $299 for 32GB, so the company is deeply undercutting the Californian tech giant Apple on price and even beating the recently launched Kindle Fire HD line.

In its press release announcing the HD line, the company said: “[The HD+ is] nearly half the cost of the leading large-format tablet, [and] both products deliver an amazing value for customers, with no annoying ads.”

The 7-inch Nook HD will cost its owners $199 for the 16 GB model and $229 for the 32 GB tablet, Mashable reports.

Both tablets feature micro SD slots for memory expansion (up to 64GB) and come complete with their AC chargers. Amazon charges extra for the Kindle Fire 7’s AC adapter. Both Nook tablets are Wi-Fi only.

The Nook line runs on Android operating system, and its homescreen design is “much more streamlined than that of the previous Nook tablet”, CNN says.

The tablets include “HD” in their names as both tablets have a high-resolution display that looks stunning at first glance.

At 1,920 x 1,280, the HD+ resolution is slightly higher than 8.9-inch the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Similarly, the 1,440 x 900 of the new Nook HD bests the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7‘s 1,280 x 800 screens.

The New-York based bookseller has fallen behind both its rivals. The iPad maker captured more than two-thirds of the tablet market in the second quarter, most recent data claims. Amazon took the No. 3 spot, behind Samsung, with 4%, while B&N occupies the fifth place with its 2%.

“No one can ignore what Apple does,” Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch told reporters this week.

However, at a pre-announcement demo with journalists on Monday, it was clear that the company’s target is aiming Amazon’s Kindle Fire – the recently announced and similarly named Kindle Fire HD.

Staffers used the Fire to extol Nook’s virtues, setting up side-by-side comparisons on screen, size and weight: “See how [Fire] casts a sort of shadow over the screen?”

Lynch took his own shot at Amazon. “Jeff [Bezos, Amazon’s CEO] says the Kindle Fire is the best media tablet at any price, which is a joke given the specs,” he said.

However, unlike Apple’s and Amazon’s products, the Nook HD line tablets don’t feature a camera. Lynch shrugged that off in this week’s demo.

“When you’re making a device light and inexpensive, you have to make decisions,” he said. “We felt like 99.9% of people who own a tablet will have a smartphone in their pocket with a better camera.”

Still, since releasing the Nook tablet last year the NY bookseller has completely redesigned the operating system that both of its tablets run, The Huffington Post writes.

Thanks to a partnership with Microsoft, the new tablets also handle email much better than its predecessor and can open all kinds of attachments, including documents and spreadsheets, within the email app.

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