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I’d Take the Nook Tablet Over the Kindle Fire

Earlier today B&N finally admitted to the existence of the new Nook tablet (the one that leaked last week). I was at the event (livebog here), and I got more than a few minutes time to play with the new Nook Tablet. I also watched it be demoed for a good half hour.

I sat down to write this after having been out of the event for about half an hour now, and I have got a pretty good idea what I think of the Nook Tablet. It was a little disappointing. It’s a good incremental improvement on the original NC and it is also quite pretty, but it didn’t wow me.

It’s not a Nook Color 2, it’s a Nook Color 1.5.

As you can probably tell, I am not a Nook partisan. If anything I am in love with what Amazon have been doing with the kindle platform. There are any number of shiny features that amazon introduced in the past year that I love. Also, if looked at simply as reading platforms, I think the Kindle ecosystem is way ahead of the Nook. It does many more reading related activities.

But I’m comparing the tablets as media devices, so the related media abilities weigh heavily on my mind. When it comes to these tablets, the hardware and software is more important that the overall reading platform. I would take the Nook Tablet over the Kindle Fire, and  I have 2 simple reasons for that. The better specs of this second gen tablet make it worthwhile.

The Kindle Fire lacks a card slot or sufficient Flash storage. It has only the 8GB Flash, and that is simply not enough. If I were really going to use it as a media tablet, I could fill that 8GB eight or 9 times over with videos and music. Hell, my PDF files alone would fill that space. It’s simply not enough. On the other hand the Nook Tablet has a card slot, which means it potentially has an extra 32GB I could use. I like that. And it has a mike, which is so very cool.

There’s also the fact that the Nook Tablet is a second gen device. I may have snickered at the Kindle Fire bashing this morning, but there was still an element of truth here and there. B&N have had their tablets under development for going on 2 years now, and that’s why I’m willing to bet money that the Nook Tablet will function better when it ships. I expect the Kindle Fire to have more rough edges simply because it is Amazon’s first tablet.

And then there’s the media abilities. They didn’t influence my decision but I think they do reinforce my point.

Yes, I have an Amazon prime membership, so the Kindle Fire would have all sorts of content I could use for free. But I also have a Netflix membership and I could use it on the Nooks (both NT and NC have the app).

And to be honest, B&N launched the NT with a bunch of other companies' apps on it. B&N matched Amazon service for service (mostly?) but didn’t lock you in to B&N’s store. Instead they found the best services on the market and signed them up. It might only be a marketing trick, but B&N don’t look as controlling as Amazon. I like that.

Now that I’ve picked the Nook Tablet over the Fire, let  me make this a little worse for Amazon.

My second choice in the Nook vs Kindle Kire competition isn’t the Kindle Fire; it’s the old Nook Color. As strange as it might sound, I like the older, refurbished Nook Color that B&N sell for $150. I think it’s a better value than the Kindle Fire. Yes, it only has the single core CPU, but it also has well developed software, a card slot, and a well developed hacking community.

If I had to buy one of the Nooks or the Kindle Fire, I’d go for the NC and hack it. I think that is a very good value for $150. Then again, I’m cheap. If I had the funds I’d get a Nook Tablet.

BTW, I’d love to hear what y’all think of the Nook Tablet. Good? Bad? Ugly?

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David Lowrey November 7, 2011 um 2:12 pm

I have over 200 eBooks and Audible books I’ve purchased from Amazon. I like to re-read or listen again to some of it. Right now I’m leaning toward a refurb NC with the 32gb N2A sd card so I can have access to all my Amazon stuff. Looking forward to finding out if the N2A card will work in the NT.

Lynne Connolly November 7, 2011 um 2:18 pm

Me too. I have a Nook Color that I’ve rooted through the SD card to a full Android tablet. That means I can take out my SD card and immediately be back with the original Nook software (the reader is pretty nice). You can switch out the cards as well, and have libraries of data, if you want to.
And I live in the UK, so I don’t have access to Barnes and Noble. Because of the rooting ability, it is still so worthwhile.
And because of what you said about it being second gen.

willem November 7, 2011 um 2:28 pm

Looks like B&N will be coming your way soon:

Fbone November 7, 2011 um 3:02 pm

Can Nate confirm that B&N is planning an international launch? Supposedly it was mentioned during the press conference.

Robert Nagle November 7, 2011 um 2:29 pm

Don’t forget epub support. I don’t even think Amazon released its KF8 formatting guide or previewer yet! (although thankfully they did release supported HTML 5, CSS tags).

Robert Nagle November 7, 2011 um 2:48 pm

To repeat: if KF8 doesn’t even have guidelines, then it’s doubtful that anyone will be able to take advantage of its features. Also, while I’m sure that Calibre will eventually figure out the format, for the time being it cannot.

By the way, if I were in the product announcement meeting, I would want to know whether there is anything in NT or NC which would prevent it from supporting Epub 3. (I know they would not say publicly about plans to support, but they might point out potential obstacles).

Logan Kennelly November 7, 2011 um 3:03 pm

The insides are different, but I’m not sure the Nook Tablet will improve my reading experience. Even the most complicated books load much faster on my Nook Color than any Android application (even on better hardware).

The Netflix support (which the leak implied would be NT only) is also coming to the Nook Color. However, the Nook Tablet (over Apple, HTC, and Samsung) appears to be the first mobile Netflix HD device, and that’s certainly a novelty.

I’m also terribly annoyed that the Nook Color has 1 GB of space for user content, and the Nook Tablet, with twice the storage space, has … 1 GB of space for user content. It looks like we won’t be getting away from those SD cards just yet.

On the other hand, it would allow me go get a new toy and give away the old one as a gift, and the price is certainly right for upgrading.

So, Netflix HD (not that I care too much), better battery life, and the fact I know someone who could use a Nook Color might push me into buying.

JimS November 7, 2011 um 5:58 pm

Where did you see that there was only 1 GB available for user content? I thought the 1 GB referred to the RAM associated with the CPU. The internal storage on the tablet is 16 GB and the OS and Nook apps would presumably only take 2-3 GBs of that, leaving 12+ GB for user storage before you needed an SD card. Am I missing something here?

Logan Kennelly November 7, 2011 um 6:20 pm

From the footnote relating to built-in memory:

"1GB = 1 billion bytes. Actual formatted capacity may be less. Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store "

There is a similar comment for the Nook Color:

"1GB = 1 billion bytes. Actual formatted capacity may be less. Approximately 6GB available to store content, of which up to 5GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store."

The Nook Color initially shipped with more user data, but dropped it back to 1 GB in the May units. (I think if you perform a system restore with the latest firmware on an original Nook Color, you’ll also get a smaller partition.)

Sure, they say "up to", but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

JimS November 8, 2011 um 2:50 am

Yikes! I thought I was paying pretty close attention, but totally missed that. Somehow it wasn’t emphasized by the B&H folks in the roll out this morning. So, most folks will need the microSD cards or get the machine rooted. Thanks for explaining that.

Furio Petrossi November 7, 2011 um 3:15 pm

OK microphone, but no webcam… no party.
Only passive multimedia

Peter November 7, 2011 um 3:18 pm

Really? They like it anyway?

I’m actually hearing this sentiment in a couple of places today.

Again, a BIG part of our disappointment is the result of my unwarranted speculations, and I’m sorry for that. Things look better when you look at what is rather than what could have been.

A bit of a post-mortem on the gaming tablet that wasn’t:

Two days ago, Gamestop started selling 3 10″ android tablets in it’s stores (Samsung, Acer, and EEEpad)- along with a $39 bluetooth controller. However, for some reason there is no actual Gamestop streaming video game service up to go on the tablets. None of the 3 tablets is the "official" version.

So maybe that’s why we didn’t see the Acclaim today. It WAS at one point real and the nook tabletTM was originally planned as just nook color 2.0, but something just fell apart.

Logan Kennelly November 7, 2011 um 4:53 pm

I used to spend my days watching Apple product hype, only to be followed by release and immediate disappointment. Nowadays, I’m a bit more conservative, and today’s Nook Tablet announcement was pretty much in line with expectations.

That’s the problem with having good products that people love: there are really only incremental improvements at that point. In this case, the microphone is welcome and the "Read and Record" feature is actually pretty nifty. Battery life improvements are always welcome, of course. But what else could they have done within the realm of reality?

The biggest complaints I’m seeing are about the lack of Bluetooth (especially for a keyboard). Everything else is related to software, and we’ll hopefully see those addressed in time on both the old and new platforms.

Nick Senger November 7, 2011 um 3:20 pm

While I agree that the Nook tablet surpasses the Kindle Fire, this is currently a game of leapfrog. B&N just leaped over Amazon, and next year Amazon will leap over B&N. I’m putting my money in the company with the best infrastructure. When it comes to the cloud, multimedia assets, publishing power and stability, Amazon is the clear winner.

Hardware will come and go, but I want to be sure I have access to the biggest book, music and movie collection, and I think Amazon will stay in the lead there.

However, I’m glad B&N are pushing Amazon, and I look forward to this becoming a Pepsi vs Coke competition.

Logan Kennelly November 8, 2011 um 10:55 am

Well, if it’s leapfrog, B&N isn’t playing very well. The original Nook was unique, and arguably better, than the Amazon offering (although the launch was totally botched), then they had a great color multimedia reader a year ahead of Amazon, and then they introduced a fully-touch screen reader six months ahead of Amazon. That, and they’ve almost always been better about supporting user content (the SD card being the most prominent example). From a reading gadget standpoint, B&N appears to be much better about executing.

Amazon does have its own strengths (quite a few), but it’s not like B&N is only accidentally in the lead here by a quirk of timing.

Syn November 7, 2011 um 9:13 pm

What, no.. Hulu at 7.99 a year, and we have Netflix, also 7.99 a year.. Its good they have those options but in terms of price it doesn’t beat what Prime is offering. (Unless you already have Netflix and Hulu.. I do) then its just another way to watch services you already pay for.

I don’t like that the Fire doesn’t have an SD Slot. I worried over that with my iPad and it hasn’t been an issue, but then the iPad has a lot more internal storage then Fire.

I have a Nook Color already and I do like it a lot. I’m a bit disappointed because B&N is taking the lets bump the spec’s route instead of adding more things to enhanched my reading.. Better screen, maybe pen for annotation, Phrase searching across my entire Library, although that kids read thing is very cool..

fjtorres November 8, 2011 um 6:24 am

Hulu-plus and Netflix aren’t $7.99 a year; those are monthly charges.

Kelly Mosier November 8, 2011 um 10:36 am

I am admittedly in the B&N ecosystem for my ebooks, but it is primarily because of their openness to third party vendors. It’s an interesting batter because Amazon is really going after Apple, not B&N, and B&N is competing with Amazon, not Apple, so Amazon has really put itself in a position to defend on two separate fronts.

I do believe that if any company has the infrastructure to compete with Apple for an online media ecosystem it is Amazon, but lets face it, Barnes and Noble couldn’t even come close. Barnes & Noble simply can’t compete with the ecosystem, which is why they have to find partners like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora to work as launch partners to fill out their multimedia offerings. I think that’s a good thing, by the way. Apple has too much vertical integration.

If/when Amazon begins selling a larger 10 inch Android tablet, then we’ll have a real fight on our hands. One where Barnes & Noble is more of a niche product (that I’ll still probably gladly fill) while Amazon and Apple duke it out for the low end computer/high end tablet space.

john November 8, 2011 um 1:18 pm

last night on Charlie Rose, Zuckerberg stated that Facebook’s approach is to work with partners instead of doing it all themselves. B&N appears to be doing the same thing.

Re: your last paragraph, B&N could likely follow suit with a 10″ 'Acclaim' and stay in the game. there’s still money to be made in comin' in third (see Microsoft phone (eventually)).

Logan Kennelly November 8, 2011 um 1:32 pm

Apple is a clear example of why you would want vertical integration: if you control your customer base, you have a captive audience and can make more sales. Unfortunately, it requires being more responsive, investing more aggressively into R&D, and taking on more risk.

As a customer, content partners are nice because I can pick and choose the best services and the products are more likely to be friendly toward end-user control.

Is B&N third? I thought they were second and growing faster than anyone else… (At least in the U.S.)

john November 8, 2011 um 3:22 pm

kelly’s premise (i can’t seem to figure out how to 'reply' instead of starting a new comment) was that Amazon and Apple will be duking it out, hence B&N as third. Common wisdom does seem to be though that Apple and Amazon are serving different markets, so in that way, i agree that B&N is second.

Neither here nor there, but i’m rediscovering my nook 1st edition (and B&N app on my HD2 (windows mobile 6.5). pretty nifty gadget(s), now that i fully understand the swiping capabilities (page turns, through book covers). duh.

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Julez November 17, 2011 um 4:29 pm

I love my hacked/rooted Nook Color. It does everything I need and I can even watch netflix and streaming movies. I have both the worlds of barnes and noble and amazon plus a ton of other readers. I do prefer the .epub format and the readers that are available for it. I have a 32 gig micro-sd chip that works wonderfully with it. I think I will have this reader for quite some time.

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