Small and Cheap, But Is It The Right One? My Nook Tablet Review

We recently got a Nook Tablet.

I had wanted to pick up either the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire. I looked at a lot of previews and reviews, and two things drove me toward the Nook tablet. One was the poor/mixed reviews of the Fire. The other was the paper specs on the Nook Tablet. It has twice the processing power, RAM, and storage with an expansion slot. Even after it became known that the internal storage of the Nook limited user content to just 1GB, the expansion slot more than made up for it.

So we got it and have been playing with it for a few weeks.

I find myself wondering if we made a mistake. I know I can always root the thing and turn it into a basic android tablet, but I’d like to keep it as a Nook device. My concerns isn’t about the performance, really, but about something else.

Yes, it needs more apps. Like a lot more. And it needs more free apps. I know the selection will grow, but man. Still, I was able to load Evernote on there so, it’s not all bad. And Hulu Plus and Netflix have been getting a work out. I like the crossword app as well. All the apps work great. Just need more of them.

Text input is a lot different. It’s mostly a QWERTY keyboard, but some of the non-letter keys are located in odd spots. I’m still not used to it,,and I make typos all the time.

Video playback is great. Really great. Netflix and Hulu Plus look amazing, and both have decent interfaces. Watching your own video is more complicated. It takes a bit of navigating to get to them. I’ve tested a few file types, and was able to get a 720p .mp4 to play without trouble.

Of course, reading a book is great. The 7 inch size is really the right size for an e-reader. Lighter than my iPad and bigger than my iPod Touch or iPhone. Some people have said that trying to read magazines and comics leaves a bit to be desired on the smaller screen, but I haven’t tried that yet.

But those are not the things that make me think I may have made a mistake. No, I may have made a mistake because I think Amazon is going to win the low end tablet competition. When shopping for the tablets, most employees did not know anything about the Nook Tablet, and while they may have been mistaken about the Fire, at leas they knew something about it. In store displays are very telling. target and Walmart still does not have a Nook Tablet on display. One store still have the Nook Color listed at $250, instead of the new $200 price. Best Buy did have the Tablet, but had two Kindle Fires o display in very prominent floor space.

Barnes and Noble just isn’t getting the play that the Fire is. Amazon was first to announce and first to market with their device. If attention is any indication of success the Nook Tablet is barely a spark compared to the Kindle Fire. I don’t know how much Amazon spent on promotion, but Barnes and Noble obviously hasn’t spent enough. They are not getting the push the Fire is getting.

I hope the Nook Tablet stays around. I think I’m keeping the one we have. Every time I think of returning it, I see another poor review of the Fire. I’m not saying the Fire is a bad device, just that it’s no better than the Nook Tablet unless you are heavily invested in the Amazon media world (Prime, music store, etc…) If by some chance I end up with a discontinued tablet, I’ll root it and run regular Android software on it. The faster processor and larger memory will be better for that. I’m hoping an update frees up some of the internal memory and we start seeing more apps become available.

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Is the iPad a Kindle Killer?

The WSJ has a Digits post with video from the Apple iPad presentation talking about the new iBooks app.

I wondered how the base iPad compared to the Kindle. If someone just wanted the e-reader capability would the iPad be the way to go, or should they stay with Kindle? I am assuming that quickly all the same books will be available on both devices.

I’ve played with a Kindle a little, and it’s got a nice feel to it. I own an iPhone and iPod Touch, so I can imagine how the iPad feels.

The base iPad run $500 while the larger (similar sized) Kindle runs $490. The 6″ display model is $260.

The larger Kindle has about 4GB of storage, while the iPad weighs in at 16GB. But both will store more books than you need.

iPad is a color display, but either show basic text pages just fine.

The Kindle boasts global 3G downloads via “Whispersync”, while the iPad base model would only be wifi. The price goes up to $629 + monthly charges for 3G access. This is really where the Kindle beats the iPad. Even so, do you really need to be able to get your next book anywhere, or could you wait until the next wifi hotspot?

If you are just doing book reading with this device, then maybe the Kindle is the way to go (especially if you don’t mind the small version). But if you want to do anything else, the iPad does so much more. if you own an iPhone or iPod and want and e-reader, the iPad is the way to go.

The real Kindle Killer would be new release e-books priced the same as a paperback… $7. That’s what I would like to see from any e-reader. I’m hearing $8-15 for iBooks.

Reading

Last year my wife read 61 books. Yes, 61, and that doesn’t include books read to the kids.

I am also an avid reader. I have been a reader since I was a kid, living in a home with only one TV station.

I have not really gotten into the electronic readers out there. I did download Kindle for my iPhone and have read some samples on it. I have one app that includes classic fiction books. I like the stand along Kindle, but won’t shell out tat much for a book reader until the electronic books come down below $10 a piece. If I can wait until books are in paper back (selling for $6-7 each) I’m not willing to pay $10 for a book I can’t loan out, or let my wife read without giving up my own e-reader. I understand that Amazon and other e-reader maker are working to lower costs even on new releases. When I can buy new releases at less than paperback prices, I will look more closely at an e-reader.

Meanwhile, we love the library. Did you know tat the Orange county library will let you select books online, and deliver them to your front door, for no charge?

We love book sales. And used book stores. If you frequent used bookstores, you know there always seems to be one in every town that smells a bit like cat litter. That’s the one where you can find some really good deals. My wife likes thrift stores for books as well. And the library sales.

I read a combination of fiction and non fiction books. I once was told that reading fiction was self indulgence. I disagree. As a person who tries to tell stories, I think learning how others tell stories is important. In addition, as a person who communicates to those who are inundated with culture, I need to know what people are are saying, and how they say it. Books deal with all kinds of cultural dimensions. So, I will continue to read fiction and non fiction.

When I hear about people who don’t even read one book a year, I wonder what happened to make them that way. Did they lose all desire to learn? Have they never read a good book, one that captivates the imagination? Don’t they like stories?

Me? I love them. I am experiencing what my wife and I call “good book let down” right now. I just finished a fiction book, and I wish I was still reading the story. I wish I knew what happened next. Luckily, it passes as soon as I start another book. I think I’ll go look for one right now.