Nook HD+ hands on preview: Is this the king of Android tablets?
The Nook HD+ and Nook HD, two entirely new tablets from Barnes & Noble, have also been launched today, alongside the Simple Touch e-readers. Much like the two Amazon Kindle Fire HD models, the Nook HD+ and Nook HD run a different flavour of Android – but Barnes & Noble is promising a super experience thanks to its sensational screens. Ahead of the announcement, we got a sneak peek at both earlier this week: read on to find out all about them.
First up, we’ve got the Nook HD+, a nine-inch tablet with an astonishingly sharp 1920×1080 HD screen. For those keeping count, that’s an almost identical pixel density to the stunning Retina Display on the third generation iPad. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and you can output HD video to a TV with an adaptor – not bad for £229 (That’s the 16GB version – a 32GB version meanwhile will cost £269).
Next up is the Nook HD, a seven-inch answer to the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire. Its display is a record breaking 1440×900 resolution, sharper than any 7-inch competitor, and it’s running on a zippy 1.3GHz dual-core processor. That starts at £159 for an 8GB model (£189 fo 16GB) but as with the Nook HD+, you can add your own memory cards to both for an extra 64GB of storage.
Both the Nook HD+ and Nook HD run the same software, a heavily modified version of Android 4.0, which doesn’t have access to Google apps. That’s not ideal, but it’s not all bad: instead, you get a Nook app, ebook, magazine and video store.
There are some clever additions, too: you can add multiple users and set parental controls on accounts, so the whole family can use the same device. You can “rip” pages from downloaded magazines (well, screenshots) and add them to scrapbooks, and for parents there’s even an app which lets you record your own narrations to children’s picture books.
We got hands on with both models at the company’s UK launch event earlier this week, and while it’s early days yet, we love what we’re seeing so far. The Nook HD+, despite its curious design and curious hole drilled into one corner, has a dazzling display, and its modified Android build appears crisp and easy to use: there’s no pull down notification tray, but instead a full screen events tab that fills up with all your alerts.
At 515g, it’s light for its size, but really, it’s the design that stands out. This really is nothing like an iPad: its plastic casing doesn’t ooze sophistication, but it stands out, and feels almost friendly – like anyone is welcome to use it.
Perhaps even more impressive though is the crazy light (315g), Nook HD. That 1440×900 display is a marvel: frankly, we’re astonished a bookseller is the first to market with this. Videos look beautiful, as do comic books downloaded from the Nook store.
The only question is what will be available come launch: you won’t be able to install your own Android apps, so you’ll be stuck with whatever Barnes & Noble lets onto its store. Otherwise though, the Nook HD and HD+ look very promising indeed, and we’re pleased to see Barnes & Noble bringing both models to the UK, where Amazon can only be bothered to bring one. They’ll be available to pre-order next month, and ship in November.
Will you be buying one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.