Skip to navigation

Barnes & Noble Nook HD review

Verdict

A top-value tablet with a fabulous screen – an excellent compact tablet for those who don’t need 3G

Review Date: 3 Jul 2013

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £83 (£99 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £110
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The Nook HD, much like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in, is marketed as a colour ebook reader rather than a straight tablet. When it first appeared in the UK, just before Christmas 2012, it was limited in a similar way, running its own app, movie and book stores on top of a heavily modified version of Android 4.

Now, Barnes & Noble, the manufacturer of the Nook HD, has given its compact tablet a new lease of life, adding the riches of Google Play via a software update and cutting the price (temporarily) to £99. This makes all the difference. We liked it before, but we couldn't bring ourselves to recommend it because of the paucity of apps; now, we're huge fans. It's fantastic value for money, and that's due in no small part to the high quality of the hardware.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

We'll start with the screen, which is the best on the compact tablet market for pixel count. The resolution of 900 x 1,440 gives a pixel density of 243ppi across the Nook HD's 7in display, which means it's in effect a "Retina" screen when viewed from 14in or further away. It's also brighter than most - only the far more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 beats it on this front.

The contrast ratio isn't as impressive, at 674:1, but it's still pleasurable for movie-watching. Colours look natural, with a pleasantly warm tone, and the high resolution means text looks super-sharp.

Battery life is excellent. The Nook lasted 12hrs 35mins in our looping video test – only the Asus Fonepad showed greater stamina – and performance is fine, too. The same update that added Google Play has smoothed out the slight sluggishness in the user interface, and benchmark performance is perfectly acceptable.

The tablet's 1.3GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4470 CPU helps it reach scores that are among the best for SunSpider, Geekbench and Peacekeeper. There's a blip in the graphics-heavy GFXBench test, where it finds itself behind most of rivals – this is due to the Nook's high pixel count – but we experienced no serious problems in everyday gaming.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

We're also fans of the physical design of the Nook HD. It isn't particularly attractive, with its black screen surround contrasting rather uncomfortably with the stark white bezel and grey rear, but the scooped-out, rubbery back panel makes it comfortable to hold.

In addition, the proprietary user interface gets a lot right. We like the fact that it allows user profiles, so different people can use the tablet without having to share the same accounts and settings.

That said, there are areas where the Nook has gone backwards since that all-important update. For one, there's no longer an "Article View" setting on the tablet's default web browser. You can regain this feature by installing Firefox, which offers something similar, but its ad-stripped view isn't nearly as elegant as that of the old proprietary Nook browser. There's also no GPS, no front- or rear-facing cameras, no NFC and no option for 3G.

Aside from those obvious weaknesses, however, the Nook HD still represents a fantastic buy. It has a great screen, decent performance, very good battery life and a good all-round design, yet it costs a mere £99. The Fonepad's smartphone features and 3G capability keep it on top, but if you don't need those, this is the next best thing.

Author: Jonathan Bray

Best Prices

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£110
Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

Fire sale anyone?

Since Barnes and Noble announced that they are pulling out of the hardware/tablet market, isn't the Nook HD likely to go the way of the HP Touchpad? Think I'll wait for the new Nexus

By jjbreen67 on 3 Jul 2013

Fire sale anyone?

Since Barnes and Noble announced that they are pulling out of the hardware/tablet market, isn't the Nook HD likely to go the way of the HP Touchpad? Think I'll wait for the new Nexus

By jjbreen67 on 3 Jul 2013

@jjbreen67

The new Nexus will be twice the price, and as tablets don't need support it doesn't matter if they stop making them. OS updates are a rarity in supported devices, so you won't miss them, and the other software will continue to be available through Google Play. Cameras don't make sense in tablets unless you really want to look silly and if you need 3G you can tether it to your phone.

By tirons1 on 3 Jul 2013

Anyone know where this can be bought in the UK?

The only place I've found the discounted one is on the B&N website in the US.

By nadirvonrommel on 3 Jul 2013

Anyone know where this can be bought in the UK?

The only place I've found the discounted one is on the B&N website in the US.

By nadirvonrommel on 3 Jul 2013

Anyone know where this can be bought in the UK?

The only place I've found the discounted one is on the B&N website in the US.

By nadirvonrommel on 3 Jul 2013

@nadirvonrommel

The UK Nook store has them as does John Lewis. John Lewis offer their usual 2 year guarantee.

By jaibee3 on 3 Jul 2013

@nadirvonrommel
Argos also have 'em for £99

By Mark_Thompson on 3 Jul 2013

very happy with it

Bought for my young son. Excellent profile setup to control what he can do in his profile, Admin is locked for him. SD card meant it was very quick to transfer all his films straight on to the video carousel. Google play and kindle meant all his books went straight on too.

By Geddy3001 on 6 Jul 2013

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

Latest Category Reviews
Asus Memo Pad 8 review

Asus Memo Pad 8

Category: Tablets
Rating: 4 out of 6
Price: £180
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 review

Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2

Category: Tablets
Rating: 4 out of 6
Price: £649
Asus Memo Pad 10 review

Asus Memo Pad 10

Category: Tablets
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £180
Toshiba Encore review

Toshiba Encore

Category: Tablets
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £200
Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 review

Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4

Category: Tablets
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £349
Compare reviews: Laptops

advertisement

Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 

 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.