Barnes & Noble Unveils New Nook Tablet that Matches Kindle Fire Price
Barnes & Noble opened a new front in the media tablet war on Tuesday with a President's Week rollout of its latest Nook device.
The 7-inch, $199 Nook Tablet has half the internal storage of the last Nook Tablet, 8 GB instead of 16 GB, but costs $50 less. Otherwise the specifications are the same: It's powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor, with a slot for up to a 32 GB of memory on a microSD card, and Barnes & Noble says the battery is good for 11-1/2 hours of reading time or nine hours of video playback.
Cheaper Nook Color
"For any customer who likes to read digitally, watch movies or TV shows, browse the Web, or help their kids read and learn through interactive books and apps, our new $199 NOOK Tablet with 8 GB is the best product value on the market," said Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch.
At the same time, Barnes & Noble, struggling to make headway against Apple's market-topping iPad (which starts at $499) and Amazon.com's new Kindle Fire ($199), dropped the price of the Nook Color tablet from $199 to $169.
The Tablet weighs just 14.1 ounces, boasts VividView screen technology and has the ability to download thousands of Nook apps via Wi-Fi, as well as stream movies, TV and music from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Flixster, Pandora, Rhapsody and more.
The Nook Tablet is similar to the Kindle Fire. Neither is equipped with 3G wireless compatibility, like the iPad or a range of Android-based tablets, but connect via Wi-Fi only.
Avi Greengart, a consumer devices analyst for Current Analysis, says that in a match-up, the Kindle Fire and Nook each have advantages.
"In terms of hardware, the Nook is better, with a much better screen and a slightly better processor," Greengart said. "But the real difference is what you can do with it, and Amazon has a suite of services that Barnes & Noble still doesn't quite match."
While the Nook Tablet can stream music or movies through services like Netflix and Pandora, he said, it cannot yet download through a service like Apple's iTunes or Amazon's Instant Video or Amazon MP3.
"The Nook tablet's big advantage is interactive children's books," Greengart said. "It has more than any other device that I have seen, plus some nifty features that allow you to record with your own voice, in case you're on the road or just get tired of reading."
The devices are still outclassed by iPad, though.
"The Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire are e-book readers that can do more, whereas the iPad is a general-purpose computing tablet that can do all these things and more," Greengart said. "There are more than 150,000 tablet-specific apps for iPad. But each of these products seems to be finding its own buyer, and for people looking to spend $200, they've got some really affordable choices."