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Nook Tablet Now in Stores (And In My Hands)

About 4 hours ago I stopped by my local B&N store (40 miles away) and picked up a Nook tablet.

I’m sure you know that the Nook Tablet was supposed to be in stores on Friday, but I guess B&N took a leaf out of Amazon’s playbook. Earlier today one reader tipped me that his store called and invited him to pick up his Nook Tablet. I checked with my store and they offered to take a pre-order and let me pick it up today.

Update: A couple blogs are already posting reviews. I haven’t read them yet.



Second Update: I found a way to install 3rd party apps. Now the NT is much more useful.

So I’ve had my Nook tablet for several hours now, and I continue to play with it as I write this post. It’s very pretty with a polished interface, sleek appearance, and it’s quite responsive.ย  I’ve successfully downloaded several ebooks from my favorite free ebook sites (that isn’t possible on the KF). And I’ve installed an app, browsed the web,ย  and tried some of the free samples included.

Everything is working nice, but I haven’t been wowed yet.

Yes, this is a polished tablet, but I’m not seeing anything that puts it head and shoulders above some of the other Android tablets I’ve put my hands on. It’s a nice ebook reader, and it’s a nice media device, but so are other tablets in this price range. I may have bought into the hype a little too much, but I’m really beginning to feel let down.

I’ve probably had my hands on more tablets (both good and bad) than almost any blogger. The better ones were almost as polished as the Nook Tablet, and some were even as pretty. But here’s the thing. I’m not seeing anything in the Nook Tablet that actually makes it preferable to the budget tablets I’ve had before.

Yes, it has a curated app store – which excludes all other reading apps. Yes, it has the latest Nook app – which I can download from Freeware Lovers. Yes it has Netflix and other media apps – which I can find elsewhere.

This is a very nice tablet, but at this point I’m planning to go back to the ones I already have.

BTW, I have been wowed by gadgets in the first few hours of owning them. Some of the devices that have wowed me right out of the box include the original Kindle, Asus Transformer, HP TouchPad (not kidding), as well as several other ereaders and tablets. So I can be impressed by a sweet tablet; it just didn’t happen this time.

P.S. If anyone wants to post a rebuttal, please do. Given the hype surrounding the Nook Color, I’m concerned that I might be the only one who is underwhelmed. That’s not good; it’s a sign that I may have missed something everyone else noticed. I really do not want to end this while still feeling underwhelmed by the Nook Tablet. If there’s something that might impress me, please point it out.

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thisby November 15, 2011 um 10:40 pm

Compare pricing to those other tablets. Also, try putting a cyanogenmod system on a microsd card and boot into that sometimes for a change of pace. Nook is 2 tablets in one.

I have a nook color and it’s been great.

How’s the speed on the tablet?

cookie November 15, 2011 um 11:13 pm

Yes, the excitement will ensue with spasmodic convulsions when a custom rom with ice cream sandwich is available.

Logan Kennelly November 15, 2011 um 11:33 pm

So it’s a really polished eReader … that’s what I would hope (although the Tablet name certainly is misleading).

It does feel really responsive. More responsive than most tablets I’ve used.

It is the world’s first mobile Netflix HD device … and it really does look gorgeous on this screen. (Hulu will not be in HD.) In theory, other OMAP4 devices (such as the Kindle Fire) will move into HD, as well. There’s no saying how long it will take for Apple’s devices to get the same capability. This isn’t an amazing feature, but it’s nice.

The reading application is not the standard Nook for Android, and is unlikely to be legally available anywhere on the Internet. Neither is the Netflix version on the Nook Tablet.

If it is going to be compared to something generic like an Ideapad, it might come up short from a pure possibility standpoint. But if I’m going to spend most of my time reading and surfing the web, then do I really need potential?

cookie November 15, 2011 um 11:38 pm

Not to bust your bubble but here is what CNET has to say on the the browsing capabilities:

"The browser isn’t great. Pages were slow to load for us, and often loaded mobile versions of sites instead of the full pages. Flash support, as always on mobile devices, was hit or miss."

Syn November 15, 2011 um 11:36 pm

Nate, before you take it back, can you do a screen comparison between Fire and Nook Tablet. I just compared my Fire to my original Nook Color, Fire has the better screen, whites are true white and text seems darker. They background on Nook Color has a yellowish tinge to it. I actually like the Nook App better on the Fire than I do reading the same book right from the Nook color or the ipad nook app. Turn it widescreen and you’ll see why.

Richard Adin November 16, 2011 um 4:49 am

Nate, I’m a bit confused. What exactly are you looking for that the device doesn’t have or doesn’t do that it should have or do for $249? (I don’t have the Nook Tablet and do not expect get one as my Sony 950 fulfills all my needs at the present. But I am thinking about getting one down the road.)

The problem I find with the reviews, yours included, of the various devices is that no reviewer sits down and says, before reviewing a device, "this is what I am looking for in a device." That is, no one sets the benchmark criteria against which the devices will be measured across the board.

For right now my interest is use as an ebook reader, not a web browser, a game player, or any other function — just reading a book. So I want to know how the reading experience stacks up for each device as compared to the other devices. I do not want to know about the "ebookstore experience" because that is so subjective — does Amazon really have more books than B&N? Does it matter?

You are underwhelmed because the device doesn’t do something that no other device does. It is another in the flock of sheep. Yet, I predict you will find some reason to whelmed (?) with the Kindle Fire but the reason will be for some esoteric thing that it can do better than any other device but which few people either will use or care about — it’s the problem of being a device geek.

How well does the Nook Tablet work as a reader? As a cheaper alternative to the $400-$800 tablets?

The one feature that attracts me to the device, and which you didn’t mention, is the ability to record a reading of a book. That is a feature I would make great use of with grandchildren and alone would make the Nook Tablet a buy for me. As far as I know, no other device in its class offers such a feature. And if you had children or grandchildren, you, too, might find such a feature to be overwhelming. Which takes me back to my original point — What exactly are you looking for that the device doesn’t have or doesn’t do that it should have or do for $249?

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2011 um 8:19 am

"The problem I find with the reviews, yours included, of the various devices is that no reviewer sits down and says, before reviewing a device, โ€œthis is what I am looking for in a device.โ€ That is, no one sets the benchmark criteria against which the devices will be measured across the board."

That’s an excellent point, but it can also backfire. A device might measure up to what i want but that doesn’t mean it won’t do what others want.

If I go into a review with specific functions in mind then I’m more likely to focus on them and be disappointed. I think it better to go into a review with an open mind.

But if I had to say what i was looking for with the Nook Tablet, I would say that i wanted it to live up to the hype that B&N generated. That’s probably a little unreasonable but then again I’m not the one who created the hype.

Ang February 2, 2012 um 11:21 am

You hit it right on… as a READER this is a good device… the books for free. the options on reading for free is nice…a large selection. its a quiet little sleek eBOOK. thats what it is made for. Everything else that is expected from it.. Should be looking at the ITOUCH IPOD …. these are the best in bells and whistles.

MikFinkel November 16, 2011 um 5:29 am

Am loving my Vizio 8 inch tablet way more than I ever thought I would!
I have a NOOKcolor with the an n2a card so am easily able to use either the B&New or Android systems.
As huge nookie I really regret to say the 2 week old Vizio is my new favorite!
Not enough of a hardware difference and I really wanted a bigger screen.
The Vizio fit the bill.
Maybe the next nook?
ps kindle with all the cloud and prime membership really is going to give B& New fits. I am looking at kindle in a new light for the first time.

fjtorres November 16, 2011 um 7:15 am

Basically, if I read it right, the Nook Tablet is a generic android tablet that does what other generic android tablets do the way other android tablets do it. It does it well, but the added value, beyond the branding, isn’t there.

In car terms, it is a Toyota Camry, not a Prius or Leaf or Bimmer. ๐Ÿ™‚

That about right?

Only question: is there any hint of the fabled Nook Cloud doing anything special? Or even useful?

As to the hacking potential: hacking devices is of value to hobbyists, but real-world buyers don’t usually go to the trouble. Their attitude, correctly, is that a product that needs hacking to deliver full value is effectively crippled or defective.

Sounds like B&N was right in calling it Nook Tablet; a generic name for a generic tablet. Pretty much as I read between the lines of their presentation. And, BTW, pretty much what I expect out of the Kobo Vox.

(Oh, an an owner of a generic android Tablet myself, I’m not saying generic isn’t usefu or worth getting. Just that its nothing to brag about.) ๐Ÿ™‚

fjtorres November 16, 2011 um 7:20 am

Look at it this way: hacking an eink reader so it can serve as an android tablet is cool. Having to hack an android tablet so it can do what other android tablets do isn’t.
One’s a plus, the other’s a minus.

Lynne Connolly November 16, 2011 um 7:35 am

I live in the UK and I love my Nook Color (first gen). The reason the UK is important? I can’t get to the B and N store online. You have to be in the US for that.
Why I love it:
1. The SD card slot. That is what puts it above others for me. That and the price. I have it rooted, using CM7, and it works like a dream. A full Android tablet. But I like the original Nook reader and library manager, so if I take out the SD card and reboot, I can get to that as well, and all the original firmware.
2. The screen is gorgeous, really bright, and I don’t have any yellowish tinges at all. Whites pop.
3. The build is really sturdy.
4. It has 4 physical buttons. I’m old fashioned. I just like them sometimes.
5. The price. Last year, it beat every other tablet and offered a screen quality as good as the ipad’s.

On the hacking thing – I think we’re going to see more of this, so that companies can put a proprietory claim on Android. "Ah, but this is our version!"

Scott_T November 16, 2011 um 8:58 am

I think the big question is is it worth $50 more than a kindle fire?

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2011 um 9:07 am

That’s what i thought on launch day, but now I’m not so sure. The KF is actually more open than the nook tablet.

burger flipper November 16, 2011 um 11:46 am

One potential huge strike. This thing might not be open like the Color was. The guy I’m linking here is the one who cracked the Color a year ago

burger flipper November 16, 2011 um 11:47 am

oops, here’s the link:

Logan Kennelly November 16, 2011 um 12:25 pm

Oh, blast. I’d really rather support a company that isn’t hostile towards its customers. Still, it’s early on and one can hope.

Robert Nagle November 16, 2011 um 11:53 am

Does anyone know if the Tablet can play youtube videos adequately?

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2011 um 12:03 pm

Yep. it even switched between landscape and portrait without dropping a frame.

Andrys November 16, 2011 um 1:09 pm

B&N, while giving Cloud space to B&N-purchased items, will not allow use of their Cloud for non-B&N material.

Amazon gives all customers globally 5 free gigs of storage space
(=in addition to= free, unlimited Cloud for any Amazon-purchased material), and that 5 free gigs that everyone gets is useable for ANY files from anywhere as long as they’re not DRM-protected.

Amazon also quietly gives all Kindle owners now, an additional 5-gig Kindle area for "personal docs" — your PDFS, Word files, or non-DRM’d non-Amazon-downloaded books bought elsewhere.

Logan Kennelly November 16, 2011 um 1:31 pm

AND, and this is really nice, Amazon will sync your personal documents (location, highlights, notes) from what I understand. It’s a fairly small gesture, but extremely welcome for people like me that have a lot of content from the past fifteen years and will support good publishers by purchasing direct when that is an option.

It certainly makes the Amazon solution much more attractive than it was in the past. If only it was ePub…

fjtorres November 16, 2011 um 2:29 pm

That’s why I was asking; Amazon is providing a true cloud service (online storage for user content) while B&N simply lets you redownload what you bought. A new (and misleading) name for an old feature, then?
Pretty much what I thought.
Kinda like their "No-ads" hype for the STR; what they really mean is "No *outside* ads, but we’ll still spam your home screen full time".

Its not that I have anythingagainsst B&N or for Amazon, but I *am* keeping track of B&N’s hissy fits and underhanded moves because I strongly suspect they have one foot on a banana peel and the other in front of an open tomb.
I hope I’m wrong, but the evidence is mounting; those folks are panicking.

Geert Meijer November 16, 2011 um 3:04 pm

Amazon is very good at making features seem special by giving them a fancy name.
Your B&N books were always stored in the cloud, but B&N did not bother to call it that (and by the way this is cloud storage, there is nothing misleading or underhanded about that).
Nook devices sync the last page read, but B&N has not given this feature a fancy name like Whispersync.
On the NC (and I assume the Tablet) you can look up a word not only in the dictionary but also on Wikipedia or Google, but B&N has not given this feature a fancy name like x-ray.

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2011 um 3:44 pm

That and Amazon also offers features that B&N doesn’t – cloud storage of my personal content.

fjtorres November 16, 2011 um 4:09 pm

Cloud is *not* the same as online.
B&N ebooks have always been stored online, they have not, nor are they now stored in a "Cloud".
Cloud computing is about online virtual computing resources; virtual hard drives, virtual cpus, virtual database servers.
The Kindle Cloud is, like Microsoft’s Live SkyDrive and Google’s Cloud Storage, a volume of storage space that the user controls totally; they can upload and download, stream from it, even delete content.
So far, I haven’t seen anything to suggest the Nook Cloud does nothing but keep track of your purchases and let you redownload them. There is *no* end user control of the Nook "Cloud" volume is there?
Pasting cardboard wings on a pig doesn’t turn it into a Pegasus and calling an account backup service a cloud service doesn’t make it one either.

Here, these are cloud services:

Geert Meijer November 16, 2011 um 4:04 pm

For $20 you can put an 16GB micro-sd card in the Nook Tablet to store personal content that is always available to you, even without a Wifi connection. So cloud storage for personal content is not needed.

One other thing I never see mentioned when they are talking about cloud storage of personal content, is the fact that you need to upload that content first. I do not know about the US, but here in the Netherlands upload speeds of the Internet connection are usually a lot slower than the download speed. Often just 1MB or 2MB. Not a problem when uploading small personal documents. But uploading movie/music content to fill that 5GB cloud storage will take a long time.

fjtorres November 16, 2011 um 4:33 pm

Actually, that SD card is *necessary*.
The Nook Tablet advertises 16GB of space but it is partitioned: 3GB for system use, 12GB for content purchased from B&N, 1GB for user data. Try uploading a video or two and…
Details, details, huh?

With the NookColor this wasn’t much of an issue because it was billed as an ereader. Now that they’re billing it as a general-purpose android device and bragging of the 16GB flash as a competitive "advantage"

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2011 um 4:52 pm

Yeah, I’m a little bugged about that.

Ingo Lembcke November 16, 2011 um 5:01 pm

"But uploading movie/music content to fill that 5GB cloud storage will take a long time."
Might or might not. Cloud service for storage tries to store only files that are new to the system. When you upload a movie or music the chance is great that you are trying to upload something that is already known to the system, a few pointers/acl are changed, you have access to a file already in the cloud that is the same as yours and your upload time drops to near zero. Maybe not all cloud services do this, but they are stupid not to. For Dropbox I think the process was hacked, so that if you want to have a file you only need to upload the right hash-code to Dropbox.

Bill November 18, 2011 um 9:43 am

I purchased on of these Nook Tablets last evening and tried to get the Dropbox app to work and it came back saying that it was not available on this platform – came on "this" platform..
Also, efforts to sideload or download and install 3rd party apps as described in this list have seem to have been thwarted in the last 24 hours. They don’t load.

Nate Hoffelder November 18, 2011 um 9:54 am

I’m not sure what they’re doing to thwart you. I installed another app just to see if I could. It installed just fine.

I’m Returning my Nook Tablet – Here’s Why – The Digital Reader November 23, 2011 um 8:53 am

[…] really thinking about what it was or what I wanted to see. Rich Adin pointed that out when I wrote my first impressions post, and he was right. I hadn’t really considered what I wanted out of the Nook Tablet. But after […]

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