Barnes & Noble Launches NOOK Tablet to Compete With Apple iPad and Kindle Fire for Holiday Buyers

Barnes & Noble Nook - PR image - P -2011

The $249 color device, available next week, plays video in addition to offering books and magazines.

Today, Barnes & Noble introduced its tablet challenge to Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire (shipping Nov. 15). Both devices are angling to be the budget alternative to Apple’s dominant iPad.

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The NOOK Tablet has a 7-inch high-resolution screen, wi-fi, 11.5 hours of battery life, 16GB of built-in storage and a microSD slot for adding more storage.  A dual-core processor (an upgrade to what is inside the NOOK Color) gives the Tablet enough power to play 1080p video. Externally, the Tablet looks like a thinner and lighter version of the existing NOOK Color.

Barnes & Noble will also provide free cloud storage for purchases, so users do not have to worry about losing access to content if they delete it to free up storage space. The Tablet will sell for $249 (vs. $199 for the Fire). Pre-orders begin today. The Tablet will start shipping next week.

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Similar to the Fire, the NOOK Tablet is more a media device than a light computer like the iPad.  It comes pre-loaded with Netflix and Hulu Plus apps, a newsstand with access to over 250 magazines, and a large selection of Marvel comics and graphic novels (Amazon partnered with DC).  Barnes & Noble is also working with developers to bring some Android apps to the NOOK’s customized version of the operating system -- and yes, a version of Angry Birds is on the way.

Barnes & Noble is positioning the NOOK Tablet as a better budget alternative to the iPad than the Fire, by emphasizing that the extra $50 in price brings a superior display, lighter weight, and expandable storage.

The battle for Christmas dollars between Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Apple will be the personal electronics story of the holiday season.  Unlike Amazon or Apple, Barnes & Noble does not offer a proprietary  “walled garden” for video, relying solely on third-party providers like Netflix and Hulu.  But Barnes & Noble has the large retail network that Amazon lacks (though the Kindle is now available in some big box stores) and better success selling eBooks than Apple.