Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest retail book-seller, threw another product into the tablet computer ring Monday with the launch of its new Nook Tablet. Priced at $249, the Nook Tablet is designed to compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad.
With bookstores generally on the decline nationwide, Barnes & Noble is stepping up to the plate with its attempt to grab a piece of the growing e-book industry. The Nook Tablet is an upgrade from the company’s Nook Color reader, which packed wi-fi capabilities and 16GB of memory. This latest version, besides being thinner and lighter, also contains a 1GHz dual-core processor. The device weighs less than a pound and has 11.5 hours of battery life.
While priced $50 higher than the new Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet is still about half the cost of an iPad.
William Lynch, Barnes & Noble’s CEO, believes that, even with its steeper price tag, the Nook Tablet has an edge over Amazon’s Kindle Fire. He said the Kindle Fire’s memory was “deficient” in comparison. The Kindle Fire packs only 8GB, compared to Nook Tablet’s 16. The Nook Tablet also has the capability of another 32GB with the addition of a removable memory card.
The Nook Tablet comes with apps to stream video from Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as music from Pandora’s Internet-radio app.
Barnes & Noble also could benefit from the device with sales of more e-books to accompany the device. In a holiday push, the company recently lowered the price of earlier versions of the Nook. The Nook Color, previously selling for $249, has been reduced to $199. The company’s Nook Simple has dropped from $139 to $99.
Gizmodo, however, which covered a demo of the device at its launch, found it lacking. Gizmodo’s critic Adrian Covert questioned whether it was worth the price bump from the Kindle Fire.
“The sluggishness of the UI and browsing was noticeable. Menu and app transitions, along with page turns and scrolling looked choppy and somewhat unresponsive. The homescreen UI wasn’t as affected as, say, the web browser, but I was hardly wowed by what I saw.”
Shoppers will have to decide for themselves when the devices hit the stores next week.
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