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Barnes & Noble Nook HD

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What's hot: Highest resolution 7" tablet, relatively light, super-friendly UI.

What's not: B&N's app and video ecosystem isn't up to Amazon's.


Reviewed November 30, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Nook HD is Barnes and Noble's latest color LCD eBook reader and tablet with a 7" IPS display. In fact it's currently the highest resolution 7" tablet display at 1440 x 900 (that's the same resolution as a 13" MacBook Air!) and it's quite bright. That makes for a sharp 243ppi pixel density, which translates into extremely clear text. Good for reading? Yes indeed. Black levels are also quite deep, making for rich black letters on the virtual page and also making the dark scenes in movies look great.

Nook HD

Like previous B&N Nook LCD tablets, the Nook HD runs a heavily customized version of Android, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in this case. The UI is delightful, easy to use and very well tuned toward everyday users rather than techie types. While we enjoy the UI, we consider B&N's locking the device away from all but the 10,000 apps in their app store a drawback. Amazon's app store has 50,000 apps and the Google Play Store has 600,000 apps. At least with the Kindle Fire HD, you can turn on installation of non-Market apps if you wish to sideload apps from sources other than Amazon, but B&N blocks that capability on the Nook tablets.

Nook HD

The Nook HD looks much like the Nook E-Ink readers like the Nook Simple Touch. It has the same hand-friendly plastic sculpted back that's reasonably grippy, but it doesn't in the least bit attempt to look classy or pricey. Of course, it's not pricey at $199 for the 8 gig model and $229 for the 16 gig model. That's just a wee bit more than the Kindle Fire HD, but unlike Amazon, B&N includes a charger in the box. And yes, it still uses a proprietary sync and charge connector rather than the usual micro USB (B&N says the 30 pin connector allows the device to charge more quickly). There's no micro HDMI port, but Barnes & Noble says they will offer a 30 pin to HDMI adapter in the future.

Nook HD

The Nook HD runs on a 1.3GHz dual core OMAP CPU and with the firmware update that downloaded at first power on, it was quite responsive with none of the lag problems reported in pre-release reviews. We did find that streaming HTML5 video for YouTube-based content was a bit balky, but that was the only issue we encountered.

Nook HD

The tablet has single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n (why no dual band, B&N?), Bluetooth and a dual mono speaker with adequate volume for a quiet room. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack but no camera (no Skype for you). The tablet has a music player and you can load songs onto internal memory or a microSD card. It weighs 11.1 ounces and is 0.43" thick. That makes it a little bit lighter than the Fire HD and it's also a bit narrower.

Nook HD

This is an ePUB reader that works with B&N books, interactive children's books, magazines, newspapers and now videos for rent/purchase. It also works with Google Books, public library books, Sony Reader eBooks and Kobo Books but not Amazon Kindle books. The reading app is best of breed with several fonts to choose from, plenty of formatting options, backgrounds, bookmarking, social sharing and dictionary and Wiki lookup.

Nook HD

Above: the Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD.

Below: the Nook HD and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight.

Nook HD

Deals and Shopping:

Barnes & Noble Nook HD Video Review



We love the Nook HD's excellent high resolution IPS display and how light it feels in hand. It's relatively light and it's comfortable to hold. The user interface is fun and friendly, and non-techies will likely learn how to use it quickly. And we love the microSD card slot! Barnes & Noble has an excellent selection of books and their in-store staff is always helpful, but their app selection is weak and we wish they'd stop blocking installation of apps from other sources. To stay competitive with general purpose affordable tablets like the Nexus 7 (which can run Nook, Kindle and all other Android eBook reader apps) and the Kindle Fire line, B&N must allow for a stronger app story. And while their brand new video store had a solid selection of movies including recent releases, Amazon Prime's library of free movies is even more compelling.


Price: $199 for 8 gig and $229 for 16 gig

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Display: 7" capacitive IPS touch screen, fully laminated (no air gap between glass and touchscreen). Resolution: 1440 x 900 (243 PPI), supports both portrait and landscape modes.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. Claimed use time: up to 10 hours.

Performance: 1.23GHz dual core TI OMAP 4470 CPU, PowerVR SGX 544. 1 gig DDR2 RAM, 8 or 16 gigs internal storage (5 and 13 gigs available for your use).

Size: 7.65 x 5.0 x 0.43 inches. Weight: 11.1 ounces.

Audio: Built-in speaker and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n with MIMO and Bluetooth (A2DP stereo, AVRC, HID and SPP profiles).

Software: Android OS 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich heavily customized by Barnes & Noble. Has Nook reader app, Magazine viewer, music player, email app, web browser, MS Office viewer, photo viewer and video player.

Formats Supported:
Audio: MP4, M4A, 3GP, AAC, MP3, FLAC, WAV, OGG, AMR
Video: MP4, 3GP, WEBM
Gallery pictures: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Expansion: MicroSD card slot, supports cards up to 32 gigs.


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