Announced today, Barnes & Noble has updated the popular Nook tablet with HD and HD+ versions. Unlike competitors like the Kindle Fire or iPad, the new generation of Nooks are offered strictly as content consumption devices; while users can peruse books, music, magazines and movies, you won't find a camera on the Nook HD or HD+, and that's all part of the plan.
The Nook excels in recommending content to users based on past purchases and browsing, but also based on the editorialized recommendations of the company's team of booksellers—hardly surprising, given the company's retail origins. Personalized profiles are another key feature, making the Nook more attractive to families who plan on sharing the device. Permission settings can be set for kids, and parents can decide which of their purchased movies are accessible to little ones. The compact scale of the smaller seven-inch model, as well as new "soft-touch" paint, make the new Nooks especially kid-friendly.
Customers will be pleased with the Nook's open approach to content. Purchases and rentals from the Nook Video service are stored in the Nook Cloud and are accesible from multiple profiles and on multiple devices. The tablet is also the first to support "UltraViolet," a program that allows users to access UltraViolet-enabled DVD and Blu-Ray purchases directly from the Cloud. With two storage options per device, the Nook also has an SD slot to bump storage and transfer files. Bluetooth is included, and an HDMI attachment is available to stream tablet content to a TV.
In terms of raw specs, the seven-inch HD device features 1400 x 900 pixels per inch and 720p HD, giving it a class-leading display screen. The nine-inch raises the numbers to 1920 x 1280 and 1080p HD. Both are fast, responsive and boast over nine hours of battery life (even while watching video).
Shipping late October, the Nook HD and HD+ are now available for pre-order. The seven-inch HD ships for $199 (8GB) and $229 (16GB), while the nine-inch HD+ can be had for $269 (16GB) and $299 (32GB).