Things are heating up in the 7" tablet nee ebook reader space. This week we've seen the Kindle Fire and now Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet hit the shelves for the holiday season. Think of the Nook Tablet as the Nook Color 2; it looks identical to the Nook Color other than the bezel, which is a lighter gray. But inside, it's all new with a dual core 1GHz TI OMAP CPU replacing the now slightly dimwitted 800MHz single core CPU in the first gen product and a gig of RAM.
Indeed, the Nook Tablet feels faster, and is a bit less prone to occasional lag than the Kindle Fire. The UI remains much the same, and that's not a bad thing because B&N did an excellent job of maintaining ease of use while keeping some Android 2.3 underpinnings accessible. The Tablet is reborn as a multimedia device with both Netflix and Hulu Plus pre-loaded. The sharp 7" IPS display makes video watching a pleasure and the new Nook does Adobe Flash too (and much more smoothly than the Nook Color).
The Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire.
The tablet weighs 14.1 ounces and it has WiFi 802.11b/g/n and a microSD card slot. There's no 3G, and the tablet sells for $249. It has 16 gigs of internal storage, but only 1 gig is available for your use. The remaining 15 gigs are reserved for B&N downloadable content and future multimedia partner stuff (ebooks don't warrant 15 gigs of storage for most of us). Of course, this can be augmented with a microSD card. You can side-load your own books, photos, documents and videos in MPEG4 format.
As with previous Nook products, this is an ePub reader than supports Adobe DRM, both the B&N kind and Adobe Adept DRM used by Google Books, the public library, Sony Reader Store and Kobobooks.com. It can display PDFs as well.
Barnes & Noble's app store is on board, but it pales in comparison to the Android Market and even Amazon's App Store. The Nook Color was easily rooted, and we expect the Nook Tablet will be rooted so you can install more apps.
Nook Kids books still shine with interactive content, the "Read to Me" feature and you can even use the built-in mic to record your own voice-overs for books. So far, B&N has done an excellent job with kids' books.