Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD Review – A Tablet With Gorgeous Screen

2/14/2013 4:53:19 PM

The screen looks gorgeous plus performance appears great but the number of apps is disappointing.

Like Kindle Fire, Nook HD is an Android-based tablet designed to purchase and use books, movies and apps, yet it is bought from Barnes & Noble, not Amazon.

Description: Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

This 7in compact tablet is made of soft plastic, and the concave rear panel makes it easily handled. With 315g weight, it is more lightweight than Kindle Fire and slightly weightier than iPad Mini. And it is more comfortable to hold. It has common controls and ports around edges: volume keys, 3.5mm slot, power button and exclusive charge port. Besides, there’s also a button for streaming contents and a button below the screen for resuming the tablet plus returning to home screen.

Inside are 8GB storage, TI OMAP 4470 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters. The 16GB model is available for $284, yet you can purchase the 8GB version and install more storage via micro-SD slot.

The display is star of the show. It may have similar screen size with rivals but surpass them with 1440x900pixel resolution, bringing 223ppi density which is the highest among those of 7in tablets. The screen is IPS-typed and its quality is superior. The display is extremely bright with 445cd/m2 and high contrast ratio (674:1), making movies, photos and texts look superior. It is the best display we have seen in such a budget tablet.

Like Kindle Fire and Fire HD, Nook HD runs a hi-modified Android 4 ICS with a focus on contents. Starting the tablet, you would first see a 3D carousel of books, movies and recent apps, below is an area for configuring shortcuts to your favorite items.

In the screen’s bottom is a group of shortcuts for content library, apps, web browsers, client-email apps and Barnes & Noble store. In top of the screen is a link to an area called Your Nook Today, which shows weather, book intros and things according to your recent activities.

We like Nook’s UI. It is imperfect yet overall fluent. Tab-typed web browser is fast, having excellent Article View mode which removes ads and surrounding graphics to show you only texts and images only. It is a great way to read articles and reviews.

Another great feature is adding user profiles and adjusting contents for each person. You can create a profile for your kids, along with parental controls restricting movies that will be played, define whether they can access browser and store. All are protected by password.

There are quite many contents in the store, including a good selection for books and magazines, and buying them are just simply 2-click process. Nook HD supports Adobe Digital Editions, thus you also can plug it in PC or laptop and transfer e-books from most of other stores. However, you won’t be able to copy e-books that are from Amazon because of their exclusive formats. At the time we were writing this article, Nook video store was not operated.

The store is great for books, not music, games and apps. Although it has a music player, there’s no integrated music service to rival Amazon and choices in Barnes & Noble are not considerable. We realized some familiar games such as Andry Birds Star Wars, Fruit Ninja, Twitter, Spotify, Flipboard, Netflix and Plex but the holes started appearing when we went deeper. At then, we couldn’t find official apps for Facebook or BBC iPlayer and the number of modern games was even lower, with no Asphalt 7, no Shadowgun and no Dead Trigger.

Description: There are quite many contents in the store

There are quite many contents in the store.

This was such a pity as the tablet is far able to run complex apps, like its fast 1243ms result in SunSpider JavaScript test showed. Runtime was also superior; Nook HD got 12h 35min in our video-playback test.

All of these make it hard to judge Nook HD. Hardware quality, with amazing display, extendable memory and excellent design as well as quality put Nook HD on top in the list of budget tablets, even above Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Wonderful UI, good operation and reading on hi-density screen were very interesting. Sadly, until the library of apps and games are good for download, this device’s appeal is still limited.


·         RRP: $239

·         Website:


Technical specs

·         CPU: TI OMAP 4470 1.3GHz

·         RAM: 1GB

·         Storage: 8GB

·         Display: 7in wide-angle IPS (1440x900pixel)

·         OS: Nook 2.0.4 (based on Android 4 ICS)

·         Size/weight: 195x127x11mm/315g

·         Warranty: RTB 1 year

·         Runtime: 12h 35min



·         The screen looks gorgeous plus performance appears great but the number of apps is disappointing.

·         Ratings: 3/5


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