August 21, 2014, 6:15 AM —
Source: Barnes & Noble
I've been predicting the demise of the Nook for a long time but Barnes & Noble keeps surprising me. They have given up on developing their own hardware, which is something I hoped they would do after they reported dismal sales last January. But rather than ditch the hardware brand completely, they opted to partner with Samsung.
Yesterday the 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK launched. This new hardware seems to be just a Galaxy Tab 4 with some Nook software pre-installed. It'll sell for $179 (after a $20 instant rebate) which is exactly what the Tab 4 is currently selling for at Best Buy (though its MSRP is $199).
I guess they need to have a tablet to put on display in their retail stores, but in terms of the actual hardware there's no reason for you to buy this thing unless you don't yet own any kind of tablet and are looking for a budget device. The one sweetener that might catch your eye is "over $200" worth of free content. From the Press Release:
Barnes & Noble will welcome all Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK customers with more than $200 of free NOOK reading and entertainment content including three free bestselling eBooks including Freakonomics, The Wanderer, and I Am Number Four, and an episode each of three hit TV shows: HBO’s Veep, NBC Universal’s Hannibal, and BBC America’s Orphan Black. As part of the package, magazine lovers can choose up to four 14-day free trial subscriptions from a selection of 12 popular magazines – including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and more, and also receive the previous 12 issues of each title at no cost. A $5 credit will also help customers get started as they explore the NOOK Store. More detail on the free NOOK content offer can be found at NOOK.com.
So it's $200 worth of content that they specify, not $200 worth of content that you get to choose.
Since this is essentially a Galaxy Tab 4 you do get full access to the Google Play store, which differentiates the NOOK from the Kindle Fire HD (which has basically the same specs, is cheaper — $154 without Special Offers, $139 with — but only has access to the Amazon App Store).
I just can't work up much enthusiasm for this device and can't help but think you'd be better off choosing a tablet that excites you and then just downloading the Nook app to it. Nothing would make me happier than to see the Nook brand revitalized and have it become a serious threat to Amazon (let's face it, Amazon needs some competition to keep it in line) but I don't think this new hardware is going to do that. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK just feels like a disappointment to me.
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