New Nook tablets sport high density screens, aggressive pricing

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The announcement earlier this week of Nook Video makes a bit more sense now that Barnes & Noble has announced two new Nook tablets, the Nook HD and the Nook HD+. I guess you need both hardware and content if you want to build an ecosytem.

So let's take a look at this year's Nooks. The Nook HD is a 7" tablet with a 1440x900 (243 ppi) screen, and Barnes & Noble is proud of that, calling it the "World’s Highest Resolution Display Ever on a 7-Inch Media Tablet" and I can't think of any tablets that would call that claim into question. Inside is a dual-core TI OMAP 4470 running at 1.3 Ghz, 1 GB of RAM and either 8 GB ($199) or 16 GB ($229) of storage. It does have a microSD slot for an addition 32 GB of storage space and can I just commend Barnes & Noble for not gouging us on the price difference? I'm so sick of tablet manufacturers charging us $50 for an additional 8 GB of storage (or $100 for an additional 16 GB).

Next let's look at the 9" Nook HD+. Once again we get a really nice screen: 1,920 x 1,280 (256 ppi) and another TI OMAP 4470, though this one runs at 1.5 Ghz. Same 1 GB RAM and it comes in two configurations: 16 GB ($269) or 32 GB ($299) (with the microSD slot here as well). That's a really aggressive price for a 9" tablet.

So let's move on to the potentially bad news. Both of these tablets run a customized version of Android 4.0 and so don't have (official) access to Google Play. Instead you get the Barnes & Noble app store. That may or may not be a big deal for you and if it is, well it's almost a certainty that some clever Android hacker will figure out a way to get Google Play on there.

The other cause for concern is that these aren't going to be the fastest tablets on the market, though I'm sure they'll be perfectly adequate for reading and watching Nook Video. We'll know more when review units start arriving.

While it probably won't have any practical impact on these tablets, Texas Instruments has just announced that they're getting out of the tablet/smartphone business, leaving Nvidia and Qualcomm to duke it out with their Tegra and Snapdragon lines, respectively (see Reuters for more info). These new Nooks may be among the last tablets to run TI's processors.

The new Nooks might not be the right tablets for gamers and app junkies, but as e-readers and video viewers they seem like great deals. You can pre-order the new Nook HD and Nook HD+ now; they start shipping on November 1st.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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