B&N Goes HD and Big for New Nooks

Hot on the heels of Amazon’s refreshed Kindle Fire line comes Barnes & Noble’s latest stab at the media tablet market. The bookseller today unveiled a 7-inch Nook HD tablet and the new 9-inch Nook HD+ model.

Underscoring the must-have nature of HD visuals on modern mobile devices, Barnes & Noble boasts that at a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, the Nook HD has 25 percent more pixels than Amazon’s recently announced Kindle Fire HD. And the Kindle comparisons don’t stop there.

Nook HD packs a dual-core, 1.3 GHz OMAP 4470 processor versus the Kindle HD’s dual-core 1.2 GHz OMAP 4460 chip, adding an extra dash of responsiveness to the tablet, according to the company. Nook is also a little easier to hold and carry. Connectivity is provided by built-in Wi-Fi (b/g/n).

At 11.1 ounces, Nook HD is 20 percent lighter than the Kindle Fire HD. The mini tablet is also a half-inch narrower (5-inches) than its competitor for a more comfortable grip, claims Barnes and Noble.

Another feather in its cap: microSD expandability for up to an additional 32 GB of storage. Out-of-the-box storage options include 8 GB and 16 GB. Upgrading to the 16 GB version doubles the amount of RAM to 1 GB.

Roomier Nook

The big news, however, is Barnes & Noble’s first full-sized tablet, the Nook HD+.

Available in 16 GB or 32 GB versions, the Nook HD+ houses a dual-core, 1.5 GHz OMAP4470 dual-core processor and a 1920 x 1280, 256 pixel per inch (PPI) touchscreen for full HD (1920 x 1080) video. The unit weighs 18.2 oz, slightly less than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet.

Apart from these features, the company is banking on the Wi-Fi tablet’s low price to lure consumers. The 16 GB version costs $269. Stepping up to the 32 GB model requires only a $30 outlay for a total of $299.

And while the Nook product line is directly aimed at consumers, there are hints that Barnes & Noble doesn’t want to get left behind during the BYOD craze.

Despite all the media consumption fun and games, the company points to the unit’s new built-in email app as a sign of the Nook’s new work ethic. The app not only sports a clean, touch-friendly interface, it also supports enterprise email platforms like Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.

Both Nook HD and HD+ go on sale on November 1st. The 7-inch Nook HD tablet is available in “Snow” and “Smoke” with prices that start at $199 for an 8 GB unit and jump to $229 for the 16 GB model. Preorders are open now.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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