Barnes & Noble Nook HD review
A sharp screen, intelligently designed interface and a smattering of unique features can’t quite compensate for an abject, half-empty app store
Review Date: 28 Nov 2012
Price when reviewed: £133 (£159 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Full-sized tablets have fallen out of fashion – the compact market is where all the action is right now. First there was the Nexus 7, then Amazon came on board with the Kindle Fire HD, and even Apple has lumbered in with the iPad mini. Now, it’s the turn of US book-store giant, Barnes & Noble, to enter the fray with the Nook HD.
On paper this £159, 7in tablet looks to be right up there with the best of them. It certainly has the sharpest display, with a resolution of 1,440 x 900 and a pixel density of 243ppi. And it adds to that screen with a solid line-up of features and core hardware.
Inside the device is a 1.3GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4470 processor, one level up from the unit in the Kindle Fire HD, plus 1GB RAM, single-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There’s only 8GB of storage compared to the 16GB you get for the same price with its two main rivals, but there is a microSDHC slot so you can add up to 32GB more.
Design and display quality
A standout specifications sheet is entirely academic if the device isn’t attractive and usable, but the Nook HD is both. The chassis isn’t as slim and light as the iPad mini’s, but it isn’t far off. It weighs only 315g, and the soft touch chassis, scooped out at the rear, feels comfortable to hold. It’s a much more pleasant design than the angular Kindle Fire and rather lumpen Fire HD, and if you don’t like the white finish, it’s also available in black.
Switch it on and the display immediately impresses. It’s piercingly bright at its maximum setting – measured at 445cd/m2 – and although its contrast ratio isn’t as strong as its competitors at 674:1, it’s certainly bold enough to provide a sumptuous viewing experience.
Text looks crisp and sharp-edged, with little pixellation, while photos are gloriously detailed and bursting with rich colours. Sit it next to a Fire HD or an iPad mini and images look a touch warmer due to a slight emphasis on the yellows, but this isn’t a criticism. The glossy surface of the screen is also less reflective than its rivals.
Software and content
The Nook HD runs Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), but it isn’t a “normal” Android tablet such as the Nexus 7. It runs a heavily modified version of Google’s mobile OS, which is tied in closely with Barnes & Noble’s various content offerings, and has no access to Google Play.
We like what Barnes & Noble has done with the user interface. The homescreen is clean and welcoming, with a carousel of recent items displayed at the top and shortcuts to favourite items below. A field to search the device is situated at the bottom of the screen, and above this are five buttons that take you to a full listing of all your content and apps, the tablet’s web browser, email client and shop.
No front camera , no rear camera, no gps, no 3g....
But its got an SD slot and a cracking screen. Thats all I need really.
Will be dropping hints for Xmas.
By davidk1962 on 28 Nov 2012
Where the + review
The big question is has anyone hacked it yet?
The best android table was the original nook once you added the store.
By Pairofsai on 28 Nov 2012
So will it soon be hacked?
With the play store it would be highly attractive. Don't see why Barnes and Noble try to restrict it. Dumb.
By kencameron on 29 Nov 2012
Why no play store?
To tie you into their offerings, but they haven't realised that they aren't as big as Apple.
By GWhite12 on 29 Nov 2012
Hang on a minute
Just reading elsewhere that: Good news comes with mains charger : Bad news will only charge from charger ie not through USB, which is also a non standard lead !! The plot thickens, if this is so why no mention in the review.
By davidk1962 on 29 Nov 2012
No, we want colour e-ink!
Colour e-ink will be the future, Bookeen have managed to up the refresh rate of b/w e-ink to display animation. It's almost there... www.kindlecolour.eu
By paulandsoulefe on 29 Nov 2012
Hang on a minute : Update
It will charge via USB but they warn that it may not charge fully.
By davidk1962 on 1 Dec 2012
as others have said...
You only need the apps that you need.
By TigerUnleashed on 1 Dec 2012
I know RIM may be doomed, but if we're talking about 7inch tablets don't forget the Playbook was there ages ago. And it was secure enough to be able to mix business with pleasure.
By DJ2003 on 3 Dec 2012
For anyone thinking of buying...
Do this one simple test.
Start a live chat with the barnes and noble nook online help at http://uk.nook.com/support
Select chat with an expert.
See how it goes. I tried some basics... like how many newspapers do you have available ? Answer 12
Ok which ones ? Sunday Independent, Daily star, and lots of foreign ones.
No Times, Telegraph, Mail, Express, Metro, Mirror, Sun etc.
And all the answers took about 3-4 minutes to respond. Like the person did not have the information and had to go and ask.
It may improve but B&N have a LONG way to go to be credible in this market.
By deaglecat on 3 Dec 2012
Same device as I tried in Blackwell?
Jerky, unresponsive and unintuitive. Five home screens containing mostly empty grey space. My one year old was able to use an iPad. I think a seven year old would struggle with this.
By r0bert0 on 5 Dec 2012
- Hyperoptic extends 1Gbit/sec broadband beyond London
- PC Pro Enhanced: an update
- Samsung racks up ten million Galaxy S4 shipments
- Lenovo defies PC slump to post 90% profit increase
- The iPad's only good for playing Chopsticks, claims Microsoft
- Twitter finally introduces two-factor authentication
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Schools warm up to BYOD for tablets
- HTC staff should "just quit"
- Xbox One: what it means for Windows PCs
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Nokia Lumia 925 review: first look
- Why I won't subscribe to Creative Cloud
- GoPro camera strapped to a remote-control helicopter: the ultimate boy's toy
- Acer Iconia A1 review: first look
- Acer Aspire P3 review: first look
- Acer Aspire R7 review: first look
- How we produce the PC Pro podcast
- Google Now draining iPhone battery
- Dropbox: everything you need to know
- Best smartphones for 2013
- The best broadband speed tests
- iPhone apps for business travel
- How to get a job as a mobile games developer
- 25 best Windows 8 apps
- Introducing Arduino - a simple Raspberry Pi alternative
- The tweeting spaceman
- Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One
- 30 best web apps
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
- Turn your tablet into a Sky+ remote control
- How to measure the success of a new IT system
- Three years on: the state of the tablet market
- Windows 8: what works and what doesn't
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW