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.
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.
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.
The B&N Nook HD and the Kindle Fire 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 HTML5 video playback was a bit balky, but that was the only issue we encountered.
The tablet has single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n (why no dual band, B&N?), Bluetooth and stereo speakers with adequate volume for a quiet room. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack but no camera (no Skype for you). 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.
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.