First look at the Nook Tablet

Ever since I got my HP Touchpad a couple months ago and brought it into work, my coworkers have been a little envious, and been watching the deals trying to get their hands on one. In the last week two of them have gotten early Christmas presents. One got an Asus tablet and the other one got a Nook Tablet. Well of course I couldn’t wait for them to bring them into work so I could play with them a little. This is my first impression of the Nook Tablet that is owned by my coworker Ron. It’s not a full review because, well, it’s not my tablet.

When I initially thought about the possibility of using a 7-inch tablet every day, I thought that the size is a little useless. I have a 4.3-inch screen on my phone, why would I want a device that is only less than three inches bigger? Well the more I play with the Nook, the more I realize that 7-inch isn’t a bad size for a tablet at all. I still prefer my 10-inch tablet, but I could see my wife enjoying a little smaller one for everyday use. I definitely see the draw that so many people have to the 7-inch tablet market. Some things do look a little ridiculous on a 10-inch tablet. Angry Birds is one of those things. As cool as it is on a large screen, it just looks more normal on a 7-inch tablet.

At the heart of the Nook is Android, but Barnes & Noble has basically morphed every noticeable piece so that it no longer looks like Android. The settings menu is more reminiscent of an Apple menu, and the keyboard looks distinctly Apple as well. Even in Device Info there is no mention of Android. You have to dive into the Legal menu and Open Source Licenses before you can even see that it is indeed Android. Because of Barnes & Noble trying to eliminate a lot of Android, and Google as well, some things are hard to get used to if you are coming from another Android device. One of those things is the market. On the Nook it’s called Shop and it’s Nook’s version of the Android Market, which means it doesn’t have every app available that is out for Android. The first thing Ron asked me about was a Facebook app, and after spending a couple minutes looking in the Shop, I couldn’t find one. The closest I got was an app you had to buy that would stream your Facebook to a widget. I’m assuming that since this is a new experience for Barnes & Noble that their market will get more populated over time like Amazons did.

I did have a problem getting the Nook to connect to our work WiFi. Ron said it connected fine at home, and my Touchpad has been connected to our WiFi all day with no issues, but no luck on the Nook. I eventually got it on the internet by using my WiFi hotspot on my phone, but as soon as I tried connecting to the work WiFi again, no go. I haven’t tried anything else like restarting the router, or changing any other settings, so we’ll see if he can connect tomorrow. For the little bit I had it on the internet it seemed pretty smooth, and the browser was capable, but again I wasn’t on it for very long. 7-inch is big enough that it’s easy to read things on a website.

Ron has a Nook branded case for his tablet, and I really like the design. It is similar to the ones they make for their other Nooks with the soft feel, and magnetic ribbon to hold it closed, or open. I like the dark colors, and like how all the ports are accessible by using a simple three point system to hold the tablet in place. That’s one of the things I don’t like about my current Touchpad case. My case completely encloses the tablet and just has openings for the different ports and buttons. It doesn’t fit all that well, and is just in general a cheap case. The Nook case is functional, looks nice, and does what it’s supposed to do. The only thing that is not accessible with the case on is the SD card slot, but that’s not something that is generally used all that often. I do like where they put the SD card slot on the Nook, from a design perspective it’s pretty cool. You can see where it is in the picture below.

Overall it’s a pretty cool tablet. It’s too small for me, but I know Ron will love it. Because it is a Nook, the book reading is prevalent in all aspects of the tablet. No matter what app you are in, there is a little book icon down at the bottom that will take you directly to the last page you were reading. You can also view recent things read from a notification menu at the top of the display. I haven’t been able to use the Kindle Fire at all so I can’t compare speed, but for $50 US more and roughly twice the hardware specs, I would get the Nook instead of the Kindle Fire if I was in the market for a 7-inch tablet.

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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.