Barnes & Noble deepened its inroads into the tablet market with two new devices unveiled yesterday in Manhattan: the Nook HD ($199) and Nook HD Plus ($269). In private presentations to the press, executives for the bookseller made frequent comparisons between the 7-inch Nook HD and Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the 9-inch Nook HD Plus and the iPad 3.
Both devices are available for pre-order today and will ship in November, in time for the Holiday season.
While the devices boast several tablet functions — including video, apps, e-mail, and web-browsing — representatives emphasized that reading is what B&N does best. The tablets are designed to facilitate one-handed reading better than its competitors, based on research into the average size of a woman’s hand. The devices promise to be the lightest tablets on the market; the 9-inch HD Plus weighs 20 percent less than the comparably sized iPad, and in fact is closer in weight to the 7-inch Kindle. The Plus offers 10 hours of battery life for reading and 9.5 hours for watching video. Both devices have expandable memory — up to 64 GB — but neither comes equipped with 3G, 4G, or GPS.
One attractive feature, especially for families that share a device, is the Personal Profiles option. Up to six people can share a tablet while keeping their settings and downloaded content private.
Barnes & Noble has also honed its digital bookstore to better emulate the experience of visiting one of its brick and mortar locations by improving its recommendations and the way users discover new books. Chief Nook bookseller Jim Mustich used The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway as an example. Other online booksellers might recommend other “high school reading” or other titles by Hemingway, but the new Nook store takes into account more nuanced categories, like style and audience. So a user’s interest in The Sun Also Rises might yield recommendations of James Salter or Richard Ford.
Is the Nook H Plus on your wish list?