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Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ Becomes New Player in Tablet Market [Review]

One of the latest products circulating on the market now is the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+. Should you be looking for a good value tablet right now, then you will find yourself with a lot of options. For those who are looking for a 7-inch tablet, the most notable products are the iPad mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. For larger options on the other hand, the 4th-gen iPad, Nexus 10 and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 are all strong competitors. With such a lineup of tablets, the consumers definitely have no shortage when it comes to options. However, Barnes & Noble sure did one hell of a job to revamp its tablet lineup. So, is the new Nook HD+ worth getting?

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ Specs:

  • Tablet Type: Slate
  • Operating System: Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • CPU: Texas Instruments OMAP4470 Dual-Core
  • Processor Speed: 1.5 GHz
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.45 inches
  • Weight: 1.14 lb
  • Screen Size: 9 inches
  • Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1280 pixels
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • Storage Capacity: 16 & 32GB (expandable up to 64GB)
  • Bluetooth: Yes


Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_0

At 9.5 by 6.4 by .45 inches and at 1.16 lbs, the design of the Nook just screams "book". While it is a bit smaller and lighter than its other competitors, the build quality is definitely top notch. Overall, the Nook HD+ looks quite similar to the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9. The only discernible feature is the cropped corner in the lower left hand, complete with a metal ring set to it which is in standard Nook fashion. While there is no visible purpose to this particular trademark, it seems that the metal ring enables users to hold the tablet with less stress, especially considering it only weighs a mere 18 ounces.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_1

As mentioned, the build quality of the HD+ is sturdy and rigid. By holding it, it feels like a device that is way over its $269 asking price. The Nook HD+ doesn’t have a camera, however this should not bother most people. For those who do care, then the lack of camera is a deal-breaker. They could at least include a front-facing camera which could be used for video chat services like Skype. Standard buttons include the power button on the top-right edge, and on top there are the volume controls next to the headphone jack.

Another plus with the Nook HD+ is the 9-inch screen which supports an even higher resolution than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, a $300 device. The screen's resolution is 1920 x 1280 with 256ppi which is on par with Apple's Retina devices. With the embossed "n" home button, the design of the tablet dictates that the device should be used with portrait in mind. However, the button layout is somewhat awkward when in portrait mode. When you go for the landscape orientation, the button layout becomes more intuitive, but then the home button looks completely wrong.


Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_2

Barnes & Noble was never known to incorporate cellular options with their Nook devices, the HD+ is no exception. This is despite the fact that other companies like Amazon and Apple have already implemented LTE capabilities for their products. Since pretty much everywhere has high-speed WiFi already, this shouldn't count as a big deal for most folks. To connect to the web, the HD+ utilizes 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n WiFi which is noticeably weaker than what is found on the Kindle and iPad. You will likely have difficulties connecting to a network area with a weak signal.

As far as connectivity goes, the Nook HD+ offers all the basics. Nothing really that mind-blowing here and those who are looking for cellular options might want to look elsewhere.


Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_3

The Nook HD+ (also the Nook HD) is running on a skinned version of Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), though it looks and feels nothing like the Google version. This is a good attempt to set a user interface that is easy to use and understand. The simplified interface offers the ability to easily arrange your books, newspapers, and magazines. Just like the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, the HD+ is powered by a 1.5GHz TI OMAP4470 processor which is fairly powerful. CPU intensive games are running relatively fast, although the loading times itself are lengthy. This brings us to the performance issue of the Nook HD+.

While the included hardware is definitely solid and can run Android well, the performance problems are quite apparent. Navigating the interface feels sluggish and stuttery. While a functionality to switch to your most-used apps and books has been provided, you can't help but stop using it because it takes too long of a time to load. The web browser feels slow as it suffers performance problems whenever you are scrolling. Switching user accounts on the fly feels counter-intuitive as well because it takes more than 10 seconds to switch to a different one. The presence of performance problems is definitely a shame before the gorgeous screen and solid hardware.


Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_4

The choice of apps definitely plays a significant role when it comes to the overall value of a particular device. Unfortunately, this is where Nook HD+ falls short, again. Basically the device is locked into its own App Store which is pretty much the same in Amazon's case. This means that you will not be able to access the Google Play Store. The Nook Store hosts about 10,000 high-quality curated apps. You can find plenty of big-name apps, including numerous good casual games. While that seems to be a good start, entire categories are nowhere to be found. For instance, where is the music store? There is also no alternative video players. Another thing that is missing in the Nook HD+ is the ability to sideload apps from a computer. In this regard, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 beats the HD+.

Being a book retailer, Barnes & Noble sure is sticking to their guns with Nook HD+. The HD+ is a device mainly for reading books and watching movies. As expected, the reading experience in Nook HD+ is top-notch which is amplified by its gorgeous large screen. May it be children's books, newspapers, magazines, comics, the Nook HD+ is a joy to use. However, comic fans will be left wanting because the selection is limited (especially single issues) which is compounded by the lack of comic-reading apps like Comixology.


Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_5

With a large tablet with a great display like Nook HD+, it is safe to assume that it would be great for multimedia playback. On the storage front, the device just can't seem to go wrong. For $269, you will get the 16GB model while $299 gets you the 32GB unit. Both tablets have support for expandable memory (MicroSD) up to 64GB. However, the problem lies with the lack of available content and playback options.

As mentioned earlier, Barnes & Noble has no music store. The device itself can only play MP3 and AAC files loaded from a PC. So as far as music content goes, you are better off downloading Spotify or Rhapsody which are thankfully both available in the Nook Store. When it comes to videos, the Nook store somehow offers less content. Well-known TV shows and movies are not available. This is quite unacceptable especially when the Kindle has so much more to offer. Barnes & Noble says they will be expanding the video availability soon but still, it will still pale in comparison to other competing options.

The presence of the SD card slot indicates that the device is catered more to playing your own videos but only in H.264 and MPEG4 formats only. You won't be able to install additional codec packs in order to expand file support, much like with the Kindle Fire. The Nook HD+'s speakers are loud enough for most standards but somehow they managed to be less immersive than other devices.

So Is the Nook HD+ Worth Buying?

Barnes & Noble Nook HD+_6

Well, this all depends on your needs. It is a light, great-looking tablet with a killer gorgeous screen and for a price point of $269 for a 9-inch tablet, it is definitely a very attractive purchase. However, unless you will use the Nook HD+ mainly for reading, which is its strongest suit, you will find that buying the smaller, more-portable Nook HD ($199) is a much better option.

While the interface looks excellent, the device is riddled with performance problems which can only result in experiences filled with frustration. Multimedia content availability is also a problem especially when its direct competitor like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 does it so much better. Overall, the Nook HD+ is a very solid device, it has a large attractive screen and sturdy build, lightweight, and most of all, it's affordable.

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