Barnes & Noble Launches a Family Friendly Media Tablet, Pt 2

Here is the second half of my post on B&N's new gadgetry. Due to the length I decided to split the posts in twain. The first post is over here.

Software

Yesterday B&N announced Nook Video, and as you can probably guess by now this service was built for the new tablets. The new tablets can stream audio over Bluetooth (funny, but B&N doesn't seem to sell mp3 music) and they can output HD video over the HDMI cable (dongle required). The Nook HD can output 720p and the Nook HD+ can output 1080p.

The new tablets also have support for Ultraviolet, for what's that is worth. Got a Blu-Ray that came with an Ultraviolet code? You can download a version of that movie into your Nook Video account just by typing the code into the new tablet. On the other hand, I've heard this system has a lot of issues so I don't know what it will really be worth.

In any case, that's not the fun stuff.

MyNook

The feature that really impressed me was the new multi-user accounts setup.  While the new Kindle Fire has ways for parents to lockdown the device before handing it to a kid, Barnes & Noble's new tablets have a full blown account management system. You can have up to 6 accounts on a tablet, and each account can have full or partial access to the various parts of the Nook Store.

A parent could restrict their kid from accessing the web, app store, adult books, and so on. They can also buy content and assign it to one of the other accounts, and that is a feature that any parent who is concerned about inappropriate content will love. Each of the accounts will have a personalized home screen which only shows the content which user wants to access.

And assuming they did it right, bookmarks and highlights aren't shared across accounts (unless desired). That would be another cool feature.

There are a handful of iOS and Android apps which can offer a similar feature, but I think B&N might be the first to build it into the core system of the tablet. Add in the existing read to me feature, which lets a parent record an audio narration for an ebook, and B&N has in effect made the first family media tablet.

That alone is an excellent reason to get it.

And BTW, this MyNook feature might already be live now in some form; the spec sheet calls it MyNook, and B&N launched something which had that same name last November. I thought at the time that it was a social network, but it looks like it was the website end of this new feature on the new Nook tablets.

Just in case it is related, you can check it out MyNook here.

Nook Channels

B&N's also rolling out new content suggestion idea called Nook Channels. This is a hybrid suggestion method that is intended to connect readers with books that are actually similar, not just suggested by some sales algorithm. There will be 100 channels at launch, and they will be assembled using the input of real people before the lists are handed over to the algorithms. And even then, there will still be people involved.

Nook Catalogs

I'm not one to buy stuff from catalogs but even I can see that B&N has gotten a step up on Amazon here. The new Nooks are going to be able to display catalogs from major retailers. I missed the names, but I figure that once they hear about this pretty much everyone will want to be on board.

The catalogs will look like the paper editions, but they will also be clickable. you can browse, select an item you like, and then go to the retailers website to buy it. You can also clip a page from a catalog and save it in your scrapbook.

Other

B&N has also updated the web browser with a better article view. That's good because they won't let you install any others.

Opinion

The new tablets don't do what I want, but that's mainly because I am someone who refuses to share his toys. If I had kids (and were forced to share), these tablets would definitely tempt me. Assuming the details on the multi-user account system pans out, this would be the tablet for sharing with the rugrats.

15 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble Launches a Family Friendly Media Tablet, Pt 2

  1. So did you ask about rooting? Did you ask if there was a locked bootloader? Did they do anything new with the Nook eBook software? Did you ask if they intend to go SANE and drop their mutant DRM? See, this is why I would never be invited. I’d spoil the party with questions like that. And probably scream at them over the effin DRM.

  2. Its great that they’re bringing out new tablets but why do I feel slighted for buying a Nook Tablet less than a year ago? In one day my unit went from the top of the heap @ B&N to the bottom. How about a buyback program or something to make current Nook owners want to upgrade. Sheesh!

    1. Karpy: misery loves company. I bought a Kindle Fire when *it* came out less than a year ago. Now it’s an antique. In tablet tech nobody has to bother “planning” obsolescence anymore. Just use the latest components, make some content deals, and the obsolescence takes care of itself.

  3. I think that card slot for more storage is still a big plus over the Nexus and the FireHD in my opinion. Not everyone wants or needs to be within wi-fi signal range to access their “content on the Cloud”.

    1. Yes and no. In the past it wasn’t a plus because B&N forced users to get a card of they wanted to store more personal content.

      But with the Nook HD it looks like B&n didn’t reserve most of the storage for content they sell. If that turns out to be correct then the card slot will be a nice addition instead of an equalizer.

      1. And some of us carry a WiDrive smaller than a cellphone, thinner too, that holds 32-64GB and can act as a WiFi network and stream the same file or different ones to 3 other devices at the same time w/o problems. Mine lives in my purse.

        Re the camera, you said it wasn’t important because it’s ‘pathetic’ … It’s just a video-chat camera and people have reported it’s decent or “quite good” for that. These tend to be minimal, although Amazon strangely describes it as ‘HD’. ?

        The important thing is ‘communication’ — you can use it to videochat w/ family and with friends for free. A lot of people consider that a must-have tablet feature now. I think it’s really bizarre that this is what they cut.

        When you add that they don’t allow installs of ‘unknown source’ apps, it’s not as attractive, but gotta hand it to them on the pricing on apparently very good hardware. Light too. But I’m too addicted to XRay for movies to be tempted. And so many good movies/tv shows on HD streaming now.

        Wonder how much B&N will charge for the new Sony, HBO, Disney, STARZ, Viacom videos they just made agreements for?

        That white bordered tablet — is that supposed to be for femmes? It looks almost like a toy because of that bezel – like a child’s tablet. Shiny ivory is distracting though when looking at images.

        But B&N did a good job w/getting very high-resolution tablet ous and that’s amazing pricing on the 9″ too.

        I can’t figure out why the 9″ shows only one speaker grille. Where is the other one?

        Is it two tiny speakers in one area which, with the enhanced SRS stereo will send one part of the sound to the other side of the tablet? :-)

  4. I would like to try the Channels content suggestion for a new book to read. microSD slot and price point is nice. Nexus 7 is slimmer at 10.4 mm thick. Nice write up.

  5. Great run down of the tablets Nate. The SD card, as always is great to have. I think the screen would be awesome. Barnes and Noble doesn’t have the content or policies I want, but other wise its a nice tablet. If I was loading Jelly Bean and loading the play store on I would go for it.

    I’ll keep my Kindle Fire HD though.

    Oh, and Thank you Barnes and Noble for another push to the bottom. Now they have set a new bar.

    Got to love it!

  6. browser, browser, it’s all about the browser for me. if the browser sucks (think the ‘experimental’ travesty on the Kindle) then there’s no real point in my buying it. Also, what is the quality of PDF support? I use a lot of PDF format e-books (think O’Reilly and Microsoft Press technical books) and they need to render properly. That’s one place Apple has it going on, but the older Nooks and Kindles were a disaster in this area.

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