Those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I was in NYC on Monday. I went up to see B&N's dog-and-pony show so I could write this post. I saw a couple new tablets, a bunch of cool features, and now that I've written it up I must say that I am impressed - by the software, at least.
Last fall I came out of B&N's press event having swallowed the line of BS they were selling and it took a couple weeks for the effect to wear off. So on Monday I was careful to disbelieve every claim and slanted detail. Even so, today I am impressed.
First, the hardware news.
Like I posted yesterday, there are no new E-ink Nooks this time around. But there are details about the UK prices for the current Nook Glow and Nook Touch, and you can find my post on them over here.
But there is quite a bit of news for the 2 new tablets. B&N showed off the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ on Monday. We're not going to get a chance to buy these tablets any time before mid-October, but I think they're going to make anyone who had settled on the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD at least pause to rethink the purchase.
But before I cover the specs, here is the fact sheet. (I figure if I post it I can save the effort of posting the nitpicky details about the size and weight.)
This week B&N has arguably outdone Amazon, Kobo, Google, and possibly even Apple on the hardware front. They just unveiled a pair of new tablets, one with a 7" screen and another with a 9" screen. The Nook HD and the Nook HD+ have new higher resolution screens and will be sold alongside the Nook Tablet (they are finally retiring the Nook Color).
The 2 new tablets have a few details in common like no camera, no NFC, Bluetooth is enabled (finally) and instead of a USB port they have a 30 pin docking connector. They also each have 2 speakers, Wifi, a microSD card slot, and an optional dongle which brings out a full HDMI port. I'm told they're running Android 4.0 ICS under the hood.
The Nook HD has a 7" screen with a screen resolution of 1440x900, beating the screen on the Kindle Fire HD and on the Nexus 7 by a comfortable margin. The Nook HD is running on a dual-core Omaps 4470 CPU from Texas Instruments, with a clock speed of 1.3Ghz.
This model is going to be coming in 2 flavors, 8GB and 16GB, and the prices will be $200 and $230. (And the UK prices are £159 and £189.) That's going to make this tablet priced at right about the same price as the Kindle Fire HD - once you factor in the cost to remove the ads and to add the power supply which Amazon sells separate.
Given that the Nook HD has a better screen resolution and a slightly faster CPU, I have to say that I am impressed at what B&N pulled off. I personally don't give a damn about the hardware differences, but B&N still managed to outpoint Amazon when it comes to 7" tablets.
The same can also be said for the Nook HD+. This is a 9" tablet with virtually the same screen resolution as on the KFHD 8.9, same CPU (1.5GHz Omaps 4470), storage (16GB and 32GB), and pretty much everything but perhaps the sound quality and the camera. (Of course, the camera on the KFHD is pathetic so I don't see how the lack would be important.)
The Nook HD+ has a 1920x1280 resolution screen and will be priced at $270 for the 16GB model and $300 for the 32GB model. If nothing else it beats the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 on price - by a considerable margin.
The UK prices for the Nook HD+ are £229 and £269.
But as impressive as the hardware is, these are still locked down devices to being not much more than consumption devices, and you're limited to the types of consumption allowed by B&N. That doesn't suit me, and it really puts a damper on B&N's gadgets.
But that's just the hardware. The software, on the other hand, now there I found something cool. I won't cover all the features and services in obsessive detail, but there were one or 2 points which I liked and which I find compelling enough that I could see why someone would want to buy the tablets.
And you can find those details here.