Barnes & Noble Nook HD - A Cheap 7in Tablet With A Stunning HD Screen

8/20/2013 11:20:24 AM

The Nook HD is a cheap 7in tablet with a stunning HD screen. We take a closer look to find out how it stacks up against its rivals, including the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7

Barnes & Noble is an established chain of bookstores in the US. Its 7in Nook HD weighs about the same as an iPad mini, and is comfortable to hold in one hand. It’s available in white or grey, and with 8- or 16GB of storage. A microSD card slot lets you boost this capacity.

The Nook HD is has its sights set on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and Barnes & Noble is quick to point out that you won’t get bombarded by adverts on the lock screen and that there’s a mains charger in the box.

It’s also thinner and lighter than the Fire HD, but it's the screen that's the star of the show. This IPS display has 1440x900 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 243ppi - almost as high as the Retina iPad. In fact, it’s hard to tell the difference in terms of clarity, and the colors and contrast of the Nook HD’s screen are excellent, as are viewing angles.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

One annoyance is the proprietary dock connector, which means you'll have to carry the charger around with you. An HDMI adaptor cable is said to be in the works, but we prefer Amazon's industry-standard micro USB and HDMI ports.

It's also a shame there's no camera for Skype, but this is a device purely for content consumption, and Barnes & Noble makes no bones about that.

Like the Fire HD, the Nook HD runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It’s so heavily customized that it’s unrecognizable as Android, save for a few clues such as the volume slider. Press the power button on the left side and you immediately find a feature we’ve been waiting a long time for on a tablet: user profiles.

You can create up to six profiles, and you drag an avatar on to the padlock to load that profile. Naturally, you can assign passwords so your kids (or your other half) can’t access your stuff. You can choose which apps and features are available to each person.

Backgrounds can also be personalized for each user, and things like bookmarks and notes are user-specific, even though several family members could be reading the same content. You can even have separate email accounts - there's support for Microsoft Exchange, too, which means you can access work email if your firm uses Exchange.

The main menu is similar to Amazon’s, with a carousel of recently used apps, books and magazines, but not web pages. Below this is space for a few shortcuts to apps, books, videos and magazines.

You can create up to six profiles, and you drag an avatar on to the padlock to load that profile


The book selection is vast, although there are holes - no Gruffalo for kids, nor any Jamie Oliver cookbooks, for example. Things are less impressive when it comes to magazines and newspapers, with few UK titles on offer. At the time of writing the film store had yet to launch.

When it comes to apps, your only option is the Nook store, which has a limited selection of popular titles, but they are at least curated. There's Angry Birds Star Wars and Words With Friends, but no BBC iPlayer or Lovefilm. There is Netflix, which is a consolation if you have a subscription to that service.

A Flash app has been added to the Nook store, which you'll have to install to watch Flash videos or use Flash-based websites.

The system is locked down so tightly it makes the Kindle Fire HD look like an open platform. You can't install any app that's not in the Nook store, so it isn't possible to side-load the Amazon Appstore or Google Play.

Music fans are out of luck as there's no music store, but the built-in Music Player will play your MP3s, while the Gallery app can show your photos.

Books and magazines from the Nook store look amazing, with high-resolution images that look lifelike on the HD screen. Page turns in magazines are slick 3D affairs, while in books, you simply swipe to instantly slide to the next page. With kids' books, you can double-tap to enlarge the text panel on each page to make it more readable, and it's possible to record your voice so they can listen to someone read aloud the book.

The system is locked down so tightly it makes the Kindle Fire HD look like an open platform


The dual-core 1.3GHz processor is a slightly slower version than the one used in Archos' 101 XS, but the Nook HD is still a powerhouse. It completed the SunSpider JavaScript test in 1,248ms and web browsing is a speedy affair.

The Nook HD managed 1,199 in Geekbench 2, which is a reasonable result and higher than that of the Kindle Fire HD (which scored 1,124), but lower than the Nexus 7 (1,452). In our graphics benchmark, GLBenchmark 2.5.1, the Nook HD produced I4fps. Not a bad result but, again, slightly behind the competition.

Subjectively, the Nook HD is fast. It loads apps and web pages quickly, rarely leaves you waiting and the interface never feels jerky. Plus, in casual games such as Angry Birds Star Wars, the framerate is very smooth.

The high screen brightness immediately puts the Nook HD at a disadvantage compared to dimmer tablets, and it lasted 5 hours and 25 minutes with maximum brightness in our video-looping test. If you drop the brightness to a more sensible level you could get an extra couple of hours.



·         Type: 7 in,

·         TFT: active matrix

·         Display Resolution: 1440 x 900 ( 243 ppi )

·         Touchscreen: Yes


·         Processor: Texas Instruments

·         Processor Clock Speed: 1.3 GHz


·         Flash Memory: 8 GB, Integrated

·         RAM: 1 GB

·         Supported Flash Memory Cards: microSD, microSDHC

·         Max Supported Capacity: 32 GB


·         Wireless Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n

EBook Reader

·         Supported Text Formats EPUB, XLSX, XLS, PDF, DOC, RTF, CBZ, TXT, DOCX

·         Supported Still Image Formats PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF


·         Supported Digital Video Formats MPEG-4, AVI, 3GP

·         Audio: Stereo speakers

·         Supported Digital Audio Formats AAC, WAV, OGG, FLAC, AMR, MP3

·         Expansion and Connectivity

·         Expansion Slot(s): 1 x microSD

·         Interfaces Headphones, HDMI HDMI

·         Port: Yes


·         Run Time Details Book reading - up to 10.5 hour(s),

·         Video playback - up to 9 hour(s)


·         Color Snow

·         FeaturesExpandable storage

·         Cables Included 1 x USB cable

Dimensions & Weight

·         Width 5 in

·         Depth 0.4 in

·         Height 7.7 in

·         Weight 11.1 oz


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