B&N and Samsung’s Co-Branded Nook Tablet Comes Bundled with $200 in Content

B&N and Samsung's Co-Branded Nook Tablet Comes Bundled with $200 in Content e-Reading Hardware Barnes & Noble's latest Nook launched today, and it is everything we expected. Based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, the new Nook tablet has all the same specs as the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, including the quad-core 1.2GHz Marvell CPU, 1.5GB RAM, and the 7" display with a screen resolution of 1,280 x 800.

The specs have been endlessly discussed on this blog and can be found listed elsewhere online, so I won't relist them all here, but I do want to share a few details about the tablet I bought this morning. (For the sake of brevity, I will call it the new Nook tablet.)

On a related note, if you have a question please do leave a comment. I will try to answer all of the comments on this post.

Update: Rather than write a full review, I have updated this post and fleshed it out with a few of the details I noticed after having the Galaxy Tab Nook for 10 days.

If you are looking for a review, I rounded up 5 different ones.

First Impressions

As I reported yesterday, B&N does have the new tablet in stores today, and they are selling it for $179. I'm told that is the sale price; the regular retail price is $199. I got one, and it is sitting on my desk. Here's what I have noticed so far:

  • There's only 4GB of storage available, out of the 8GB promised. The rest is taken up by the OS and bloatware.
  • The new Nook tablet refused to accept the standard microUSB cable that I keep on my desk; I had to get the one that came with this tablet in order to charge it. In other words, don't lose this cable.
  • Based on what I have seen I think this is a standard Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, only with some optional software added. Mine is set up, and I was not required to set up a Nook account or a Samsung account - just log in to my Google account.

The Nook software is given a special place on the home screen you can choose to ignore it or remove it. So if you dislike the idea of shopping at B&N, you do have the option of avoiding them. I am not suggesting that you do so, just making sure that you know there is an option.

B&N and Samsung's Co-Branded Nook Tablet Comes Bundled with $200 in Content e-Reading Hardware

Promo Content

But I'm not sure how many people will skip the Nook registration; B&N is promoting the new tablet with a $200 bundle of content. It's a tempting offer which includes ebooks, episodes of tv shows, and more:

  • three free bestselling ebooks: FreakonomicsThe Wanderer, and I Am Number Four,
  • an episode each of three hit TV shows: HBO’s Veep, NBC Universal’s Hannibal, and BBC America’s Orphan Black, and
  • up to four 14-day free trial subscriptions from a selection of 12 popular magazines – including CosmopolitanSports IllustratedUS Weekly and more, and also receive the previous 12 issues of each title at no cost. 

B&N is also including the $5 credit to new customers which they already offered with hardware purchases.

All in all, the content bundle was a smooth move for B&N. The tablet is going to face fierce competition in terms of hardware specs and price, so B&N decided to fight the competition laterally - by adding a bundle of content that most tablet makers either cannot or will not match.

That bundle could be the new Nook tablet's strongest selling point.

Performance

I ran the Antutu benchmark test, and the Galaxy tab Nook scored 13,833. There are $99 and under tablets that can beat that – including models that came out last year.

My hands on time with the tablet confirms that it has average performance for a $99, and disappointing performance for a $180 tablet. (You can find a 2013 Nexus 7 for less.)

Nook Software

B&N and Samsung's Co-Branded Nook Tablet Comes Bundled with $200 in Content e-Reading Hardware The new Nook runs a slightly modified version of the TouchWiz interface found on previous versions of Samsung tablets; I recognize it from the Galaxy Tab 3 I reviewed this spring.

The screenshot at right shows you what the Nook half of the home screen looks like after i logged in to my Nook account. It’s a little cluttered by Nook widgets but that’s not a bad thing.

There are a bunch of icons in the app drawer for the Nook apps, including highlights, search, library, and the ebookstore. Some of the apps have also been placed on the home screen, and I can also see that Samsung added a tiny book icon in the lower left corner of the home screen (this takes you to the Nook reading app).

Just about the only Nook app that is new is one called Nook Today. This is a discovery engine which suggests what you might want to read next.

Hardware

In hardware terms this is a Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, no more and no less. It is a very polished design which is sleek, thin, and nice to hold. Or at least that's what I thought at first. I found the thin bezels to be a hassle; I kept accidentally hitting the screen.

Screen

The Galaxy Tab Nook has a 7" display with a TFT screen, which is lower quality than the IPS screen found on many current tablets. But in spite of the weaker tech, it's still a decent screen.

I compared my Kindle Fire HD next to the Galaxy Tab Nook. I know that the KFHD has a better IPS display while the new Nook has a TFT display, but I can’t see an obvious difference in screen quality. The KFHD does look a little sharper, but the new Nook has better colors. This is strange because the screens are supposed to have the same resolution.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

32 Comments

  1. Juli Monroe20 August, 2014

    Do you have a Nook HD? I’d love to hear an eyeball comparison of screen quality. I definitely noticed the difference between my old Nexus 7 and the Nook HD, but I’ve also heard good things overall about Samsung screen quality. Something about how they handle colors, so I wonder if it makes a difference.

    I’m heading over to my B&N now to take a look, but my Nook HD is running CM 11, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to do a good comparison since I can’t compare reading in exactly the same apps. (Somehow I doubt the store Nooks will have either Scribd or Kindle installed.)

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

      The screen is great, yes, but that is what I expected. Samsung is one of the leading screen makers, so they get to keep the best stuff. Other budget tablet makers buy Samsung’s castoffs.

      Reply
      1. Juli Monroe20 August, 2014

        One more that I thought of while I was walking the dog. You say it doesn’t like a standard micro-USB cord. What about the block? Will it only charge with a proprietary charging block?

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

          It was charging off of an iPad block. And now it is charging off of a generic USB power supply.

          Reply
      2. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

        Follow up: I just set my Kindle Fire HD next to the new Nook tablet. I know that the KFHD has a better IPS display while the new Nook has a TFT display, but I can’t see an obvious difference in screen quality.

        The KFHD does look a little sharper, but the new Nook has better colors. This is strange because the screens are supposed to have the same resolution.

        Reply
        1. Juli Monroe20 August, 2014

          I just got back from B&N and did a side-by-side with my Nook HD. I pulled up this blog post in Chrome on both, and I didn’t notice a difference in sharpness, which surprised me. That is one nice screen.

          The new Nook’s brightness was about 50%, and my HD’s was about 75%, and the new Nook still looked brighter.

          Reply
  2. Basem20 August, 2014

    Nate – would you know if B&N announced an upcoming 10 inch version? I read they are releasing a larger version in October. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014
      Reply
    2. ucfgrad9320 August, 2014

      CNET had live blogging from the event and there was no mention of a larger one.

      Reply
  3. Fbone20 August, 2014

    It looks like B&N removed the HD+ from their website.

    Reply
  4. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

    I just ran the Antutu benchmark test. The new Nook scored 13,833. There are $99 and under tablets that can beat that – including models that came out last year.

    Here are the screen shots:
    http://the-digital-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Screenshot_2014-08-20-13-08-16.png
    http://the-digital-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Screenshot_2014-08-20-13-08-36.png

    Reply
  5. Carrie B20 August, 2014

    Have you attempted to install the Kindle, Scribd, and Kobo apps?
    I’m curious if there will be some sort of limitation, “that app is not compatible” or the like.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

      Good idea! Since we know that Amazon tries to block competitor’s apps it’s worth checking.

      The scribd app and Kindle app installed okay. I’m reading in the Kindle app right now.

      Reply
  6. David F20 August, 2014

    re: Which tablet?

    Okay… I’m hoping this isn’t too off-topic but … I’ve been looking for a forum to ask this question – which tablet? I’m an “older” student returning to college after a 20 year absence to finish that degree I promised myself. I’m mostly working through online coursework but also have some lectures. I am spread over four different colleges to get pre-requisites covered for a double-major with a minor starting in the spring.

    My main system is a mac mini which is a bit long in the tooth but more than adequate. However, online courses have a LOT of reading and I have a combination of .pdf files, the Chegg and Kno textbook online/tablet apps as well as Overdrive and other books from the library which uses Adobe’s library system. This combination is inconvenient but money is tight. My current tablet which is great for email is an old small HTC (HTC_Flyer_P512) which can’t run some software and so it isn’t ideal.

    I’m looking for a tablet new or used that is sufficient for a couple of years to haul around textbooks and other materials so I can make use of the downtime on the commute or other moments. I have a mini-keyboard that I mostly use when I’m replying to a lot of email either through my tablet or even through my phone.

    Does anyone have suggestions? The new Nook looks promising but …

    Reply
    1. Juli Monroe20 August, 2014

      I wouldn’t go with the new Nook. With the specs, you’ll be frustrated in less than the couple of years you want it to last.

      I’d keep my eyes open for a good deal on a Nexus 7 (2013). Keep an eye on eBay. Here’s one for $165, new. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Google-Nexus-7-Android-Tablet-16GB-Black-BRAND-NEW/121415178342?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D24641%26meid%3De2f537caff8448e8af5b78c9be92cc1b%26pid%3D100005%26prg%3D10413%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D231308865335&rt=nc

      Reply
      1. LoganK20 August, 2014

        I completely agree. For everything you want, assuming the screen size is acceptable, get the Nexus. It should have the best support, both from application developers and from the manufacturer (i.e., you’ll get the new Android versions). For PDFs, you’ll want to get an application from the Play Store, anyway, (I’m really fond of ezPDF) and for ePub the other applications are catching up.

        nVIDIA is the only other major tablet manufacturer that seems to stand behind its products, but they don’t have the number of users that warrant specific developer attention.

        Reply
      2. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

        I suppose it’s a little late, but I second this recommendation.

        Reply
    2. Syn21 August, 2014

      You’re in school, I’d go with a Galaxy Note, 8″ or 10. You can pick them up pretty reasonable on Ebay now. You’re use to the pen but they are a lot better on the Notes using Wacom tech.

      Plus if you go to Google+ and do a search for OneNote Android beta, you can join it, download OneNote and have handwriting capability on your notes that will sync to OneNote on your Desktop (Windows or Mac).

      Reply
  7. Mark20 August, 2014

    I just got back from the store. I’m pretty picky about screens and I love my Nook HD screen for its crisp text resolution. I’m certain that I could see a bluriness/jaggedness in text on the new screen compared to my HD. The twentysomething salesman claimed not to be able to see it (I’m 55).

    To me the new tablet would be a natural two-year upgrade except for this screen. I’m disappointed so far.

    I would also like to see somebody review the Google Play compatibility. The one in the store didn’t have a Google account set up so I couldn’t browse the Play store. Most, but not all, Play apps would work on the Nook HD. The most obvious exception was MLB At Bat, which claimed “not to be compatible with your device.”

    Reply
    1. Michael20 August, 2014

      If your Nook HD is rooted, the procedure outlined at the following link may succeed in getting MLB At Bat working:

      http://desk.n2acards.com/customer/portal/articles/961914-how-can-i-get-zinio-to-work-with-jelly-bean-

      Since changing that info on my Nook, I’ve been able to install a lot of apps that previously showed as being incompatible. I haven’t noticed any downside, but YMMV.

      Reply
      1. Mark21 August, 2014

        Thanks for that tip. Right now I’m happy with my stock Nook HD, but previously I used N2A on my Nook Tablet and I was happy with that too.

        Reply
  8. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

    I got asked about Nook software. Here’s what I have noticed so far.

    The new Nook runs a slightly modified version of the TouchWiz interface found on previous versions of Smasung’s tablets; I recognize it from the Galaxy Tab 3 I reviewed this spring.

    There are a bunch if icons in the app drawer for the Nook apps, including highlights, search, library, and the ebookstore. Some of the apps have also been placed on the home screen, I can also see that Samsung added a book icon in the lower left corner of the home screen; this takes you to the Nook reading app.

    Just about the only Nook app that is new is one called Nook Today. This is a discovery engine which suggests what you might want to read next.

    Here’s what the Nook half of the home screen looks like after i logged in to my Nook account. It’s a little cluttered by Nook widgets but that’s not a bad thing:
    http://the-digital-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Screenshot_2014-08-20-15-27-39.png

    Reply
    1. Juli Monroe20 August, 2014

      Good to see you have your priorities in order. What would your Nook be without Angry Birds? 🙂

      Reply
  9. tubemonkey20 August, 2014

    Nate; is the Galaxy appstore on there? If so, will it allow you to download the Kindle for Samsung app? If so again, does it offer the monthly free ebook like other Galaxy devices get?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

      Just a second while I try to find out where the Samsung app store is hidden; I don’t see it. I did find the Nook app store, but I don’t think that’s what you are asking about.

      I found it via the widget; it won’t show me the Kindle app or the Kobo app. I assume both are present in the Samsung App store?

      On a related note, it won’t show me the Scribd or Bluefire apps either, but I don’t know for sure whether those apps are in this app store.

      Reply
      1. tubemonkey20 August, 2014

        The Kindle for Samsung app is listed in the Galaxy store and the Kobo app is not.

        I’m also curious as to how many third party book related apps are being blocked in the Play store.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2014

          I don’t think any of the competing apps are blocked in Google Play. I’ve checked a few and they all showed up in a search.

          Reply
          1. tubemonkey20 August, 2014

            Thanks – so the Play store isn’t blocking any book related apps, but the Galaxy store is blocking the Kindle app. Interesting.

            Reply
  10. Basem20 August, 2014

    Thanks Nate for all this info.

    It’s a slick interface; I’ve always liked Nook’s software, though their native reader app is a bit buggy and can crash.

    Overall, it is a good offering and the pricing is OK but it should go down in the coming months (that’s often the case with Nook devices). I personally was looking for a 10 inch Nook announcement and hoping they wouldn’t release a larger tablet with 1280 x 800; it would be a horrible decision if they decided to release a larger tablet with that resolution. If they do release a larger tablet, it seems they will go with the same hardware specs as the Samsung Tab 4 10.0, judging from the 7 inch release.

    Reply
  11. LoganK20 August, 2014

    Having now played around with one in the store, I … just couldn’t buy it. Reasons I opted not to buy it:

    * It was buggy, crashing or presenting a blank screen at least three times while opening a book
    * Landscape forces you to 2-column mode in landscape for ePub (even the Play Store app doesn’t do this)
    * TouchWiz underneath (meaning platform updates areunlikely)
    * Fonts are blurry (the screen is really great, but books looked worse than I remember from my Nook Tablet)
    * Concerns about storage (although we may later hear that this Nook will use the SD card for storing your books)

    I was unable to play with the magazine interface as it hadn’t finished downloading by the time I left, but I am curious about that.

    It’s not a bad tablet, but I’m not price conscious and the Tab S and nVIDIA Shield Tablet seem to offer much more value for the money. The pragmatic side of me also points out that my HD and HD+ are still really nice for reading (although slow enough to be frustrating for gaming), and the Microsoft Consumer Reading application may be released soon. (The Windows 8 Nook application is actually pretty nice on a touch screen, but, like most of the non-hardware Nook applications, has quirks that bug me.)

    The Play Books application (and service) still offers the best experience out of everyone. I’m still buying from Barnes & Noble, but it is very frustrating watching them fail to build any momentum with their offerings.

    Reply
  12. Felipe Adan Lerma21 August, 2014

    “All in all, the content bundle was a smooth move for B&N. The tablet is going to face fierce competition in terms of hardware specs and price, so B&N decided to fight the competition laterally – by adding a bundle of content that most tablet makers either cannot or will not match.” – totally agree.

    If the new Nook continues to “open up” what it offers, this might be the thing B&N needs to get going again. Good to see the competition!

    Reply
  13. Karpomatic21 August, 2014

    I like the idea of getting a new device but I don’t think this is a replacement for my HD+. The 4gb memory is a let down. I actually like the Nook software. I have the app on my Galaxy Note 3 and I think it looks very cheap. I’ve never bothered rooting or getting a full blown android tablet since I sit in front of a computer all day. Very torn on this.

    Reply

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