Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Review of the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

The Nook Tablet came out last November as Barnes & Nobles' answer to the Kindle Fire. It's one of an increasing number of "iPad miniature" tablets...and it's awesome!

The primary purpose of the Nook Tablet is reading — or "consuming media," as B&N puts it. I've had my Nook Tablet for three months now, and I mostly love it, but it does have a few quirks. Remember, this is not an iPad replacement. So, here's what you need to know.

The main reason I, an avowed skeptic of ebooks, wanted a Nook Tablet was for magazines. And for reading magazines, the Nook Tablet is incredible — I read Time, Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker on my Nook Tablet every week. Each includes everything (photos, sidebars, etc.) included in the print, but each also has features — like multimedia and links to current stories — you can't get with a print edition. I really think tablet versions are the future of magazines, so I figured it was high time to jump on the bandwagon. A really nice feature is that B&N offers a 14-day free trail of any magazine. Since some magazines are better than others (for instance, The Atlantic tablet version is still just a glorified .pdf. I subscribed, and then immediately unsubscribed, and then re-subscribed to the print edition), it's great to be able to check out the e-version before committing to subscribe. That said, you subscribe on a month-to-month basis (B&N automatically charges your credit card each month), which is really nice, too. If you get bored with a publication, you're not stuck with it until your subscription runs out.

One annoyance with reading magazines is that if you hit the "home" button to close out of a magazine to do something else, Nook Tablet doesn't remember your spot (like it does for ebooks). You have to re-open the magazine and navigate to where you were. I'm not sure whether this is a shortcoming of Nook Tablet or of the way the magazines are e-published (I actually suspect the latter). 

The Nook Tablet is also great for reading books — and has turned me, an avowed skeptic of ebooks (wait, did I mention that already?) into a huge ebook fan. The backlit screen is sharp and bright, and the Nook Tablet's size (7") is comfortable to hold in one hand for long sittings. It wasn't until this weekend, when I read more than half of The Hunger Games in one sitting, that I can honestly say that long reading sessions don't tire your eyes. Of course, you can buy ebooks directly on the device from B&N, and you can sideload any other .epub or .pdf ebooks from Google Play or your library or wherever.

The Nook Tablet has all the standard e-reader features — allowing you to look up words, highlight text and write notes, bookmark your spot, etc. The one feature here that is irritating is the "Share." You can highlight text and share it on Facebook and Twitter, but the text shows up as just a quote, then a link to the book on B&N, and a #nook. There's no way to tinker with the tweet to add the author or anything else. I don't that use that feature — which is too bad, 'cause it could've been cool.

The first thing you need to do if you buy a Nook Tablet is download the free Dolphin Browser HD app. It's not that the native Nook Tablet web browser is awful — though it can be buggy and slow, and seems to crash more than a normal browser should. It's just that Dolphin is much, much better — it's faster and much more customizable (including the capability of setting up "gestures" to send you to bookmarked web pages. I may be easily amused, but I can't get over how awesome that is.) Nook Tablet has a built-in WiFi but no 3G or 4G. Not much more to say about web browsing — except that it's nice to be able to do this on an ereader.

The dearth of Nook apps is probably the Nook Tablet's biggest shortcoming. But, keep in mind, Nook Tablet is not an iPad. Many of the "standard" apps iPhone/iPad users are used to, like Words With Friends or Angry Birds, cost $2.99. As of just a few weeks ago, there's finally a dedicated Nook Twitter app, but still no Facebook app. (I've just bookmarked Facebook on the Dolphin Browser.) Also, the native Email app on Nook Tablet is AWFUL. It's not even not even worth using at all — it can't load Hotmail correctly, and is really clunky and slow. Again, I just have Hotmail and Gmail saved as bookmarks in Dolphin. Nook Tablet does come with Netflix and Hulu Plus apps, and I have watched a few episodes of TV series on my Nook Tablet. The screen is fantastic for viewing — really close to high-def.

If you want to listen to tunes on your Nook Tablet, you can, but bear in mind you're getting a bit far afield from Nook Tablet's reason for being. Don't expect much. The Nook Tablet comes with a Pandora app — but the sound quality using this app isn't good — it's scratchy and distorted; about half as clear as my iPhone Pandora app. You can sideload mp3s (see below for info about the memory) or other content onto your Nook Tablet via USB connection from your computer. The actual music player is bare bones — you can't make playlists or do a lot of the other things iTunes users might be used to. But, if you have no other options for tunage, Nook Tablet can oblige.

B&N just came out with an 8 GB version for $199 to make Nook Tablet even more competitive with Kindle Fire. The 16 GB version still sells for $249. The 16 GB does have 1 GB of RAM, whereas the 8 GB only has 512 MB. So if you're planning to, I don't know, play online games, the 16 GB may be better — but otherwise, 8 GBs is more than sufficient. Many of the early poor reviews about Nook Tablet were directly related to the fact that B&N only allowed 1 GB of the device's memory for your own content. Not sure why they did that, but this is really a non-issue, since the Nook Tablet has a MicroSD slot that can take up to a 32 GB MicroSD card. I bought a 16 GB card for like $20, and put thousands of songs on it, and it's still only half full. Memory won't be an issue.

B&N says the battery life for Nook Tablet is 11.5 hours of reading and 9 hours of video. I haven't come close to testing the limits of that, but it seems actually about right.

Despite it's few shortcomings, I love my Nook Tablet, and would heartily recommend it. I did a lot of research on Fire vs. Nook before I got mine (it was actually a Christmas gift from my girlfriend), and the majority of reviews seemed to favor Nook. The consensus was that it's bit more powerful, with more memory, better battery life, and better display. If you want an iPad, get an iPad — this isn't it. But as a budget tablet / ereader on 'roids, the Nook Tablet is fantastic.


  1. I love my nook Tablet; I upgraded from the original classic one a few months ago.
    I use it mostly for reading, and I especially love the magazine selection.
    I will have to check out the Dolphin browser app -- thanks for the tip. I just downloaded an app for Stitcher radio which I'm still playing with but streams podcasts and other content.

    1. I just downloaded that Stitcher app too - holy infinite possibilities! It's awesome - I actually listen to it in the mornings while I'm working instead of my iPod now...

  2. I love my Nook Tablet, too. I find something new to do with it every time I turn it on. I'm loving the new Word Press app.

    Stitcher has a Nook App? Fantastic!

    1. Yeah, the Stitcher app kicks ass - pretty sure it's only been available since last week or so. I like the Word Press app, too.

  3. After your own Facebook Fan page was made, if there won't be any potential customers, in that case that Facebook page is of no use. You have to improve the Facebook fans to be able to improve the interest in your business, company, personality, products as well as do that with all the speed of light, you need to buy Facebook Likes. The companies have realized that the best way to maximize Facebook Likes is to buy them. Though, you cannot add business specific or country specific Facebook fans when you are choosing Facebook likes yet still having more number of Facebook Likes for your Facebook business page can easily have several benefits which are given below:-

    Köp Facebook Likes
    Buy Facebook Fans

  4. Hi admin. I read your website. It’s really nice. Facebook is a site who created largest community form getting Facebook fans. Facebook real likes also help us to get real traffic. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. So buy Facebook fans

  5. I love my Nook, but just recently encountered a problem with it not letting me open a magazine. I shows "Fatal Error," has anyone one else encountered this. I contacted the BN Support, they're supposed to get back to me in three days...

  6. Funny I found this and your post, Jaime, as I'm just now using my Nook Tablet that I bought last summer. I downloaded a magazine and it is giving me the fatal error as well. Trying to figure it out....as I'm sure I'm up to date on the software releases

  7. I have not used the dolphin browser, but I have puffin browser and it is AMAZING. I am having an issue though.. I cannot delete the twitter app.. and it is giving me problems.. it keeps randomly popping up with "twitter was forced to close" when I am not even using it. I cannot even open it.

  8. Overall I love my nook tablet. I have purchased four for family members since I got my first one as a gift almost two years ago but I started having the same problem with twitter a couple of weeks ago. I contacted B&N and they, of course, told me that the twitter app could not be deleted or archived but that I could try a hard reset of my device to see if it would fix it. I haven't tried it yet because it would deregister my device plus remove all of my media and apps once completed. Of course, I can backup my sideloaded content and reregister and re-download all of my other content once done but I've not had time yet.
    Here is what the B&N rep said to do:
    To Hard Reset NOOK:
    1. Hold the power button down until NOOK is powered off, ignoring the "Power off" prompt.
    2. After Your NOOK is powered off hold the "NOOK Home Key" down then simultaneously hold down the "Power" button, release the buttons immediately after the “Read Forever” logo disappears.
    3. If successful, a grey NOOK Logo will appear and the screen will refresh momentarily and flash yellow. A prompt will appear asking if you would like to perform a “Factory Reset,” Tap the "NOOK Home key" to confirm. Tap the "Home key" again to begin the process.
    4. After a few minutes your device will reset and re-install all necessary software. Once completed, you will have to register the device again.
    Good luck! Hope it works because I will be trying it as well!

  9. I read your website. It’s really nice. Facebook is a site who created largest community form getting Facebook fans. Facebook real likes also help us to get real traffic. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world.Thanks for sharing.