Geekalicious Recommends... Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Geekalicious Recommends
Recently I have been having a play with the Barnes and Noble Nook HD.  The Nook is brand new to the UK and bridges the gap between an e-reader and a tablet but with full-colour 7-inch HD screen, leaning heavily on the fact that it is an idea unit for reading magazines and newspapers on.

But it's so much more than that.

The Nook HD is a very tactile tablet.  It's light - about the same size and weight as a standard sized paperback book - with numerous features.  Straight out of the box you find that it has a plastic screen surround, a rubber-feel backing with two speakers built in and boot-up from complete shut-down takes around 68 seconds.  The screen resolution is gobsmackingly sharp! 

The main feature of the Nook HD is that it allows numerous profiles so it immediately feels like a family-friendly unit.  There's also no risk of any of the kids buying anything from the Barnes & Noble shop as the children's profiles only have access to their own personal library and pre-downloaded apps.

First things first

Your Nook profile opens up at your home screen where you can create shortcuts to your favourite books, magazines and apps and there are permanent links to your Nook library of books, your downloaded apps, a web browser, email and the Barnes & Noble shop.

The Barnes & Noble Shop

Barnes & Noble have a huge online catalogue of books, apps and subscriptions tailored to the UK market and this is still in development however the quality of the downloads is second to none!  I have found that some of the books seem quite expensive when compared to pricing on Amazon (one example was a new release - £20.87 on Barnes & Noble, £6.29 on Amazon) however many of the best sellers are almost the same price - just a few pence difference. I hope that Barnes & Noble address this pricing issue for digital downloads because I feel that users will simply migrate back to Kindle for their book reading.  On the positive side, I have found that the interactive children's books are really engaging with fantastic graphics, unique inclusive options such as a "read and record" feature and many touchscreen surprises.

When a purchase is made from the shop you can assign it to as many profiles as you like.  This ensures that  individual profile material is age-appropriate and parents can assign child-friendly apps and books direct to an individual child's profile.  This in itself is an ingenious feature simply because it means that adults don't have to scroll through a child's 'recently used' selection and that children of different ages can have books and games appropriate to their age.  I can create a user-specific profile for the grandchildren (both under the age of 5) and one for my teenager (aged 13).

Newspaper and magazine subscriptions

As previously mentioned, I feel that Barnes & Noble are focusing heavily on their newspaper and magazine subscription feature and once you see the quality of the downloads you can see why.  The subscriptions are a similar price to paper and digital version but the interactivity feels like you are getting so much more for your money.  It is easier to demonstrate this and here I show you how a magazine download looks and  how you can 'tear out' a page from a magazine to keep - something that I always do with paper magazines and I constantly feel was missing from digital downloads.  Please excuse the shaky camera work...

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Operating system and apps

The operating system that Barnes & Noble are using is Android based.  The browser is super quick and email is easily incorporated.  And because I have chosen to link my own Google account I can also access my Google calender and other Google features.   They have also taken many of their apps from the Google Play store but whilst you have to use what is provided, be assured that they are the best of the best.  It's reassuring that Barnes & Noble have done this research because, as a dedicated android user, finding the official or best apps in the Google Play store can be a bit of a minefield at times. My new discovery is the Flipboard app.  It has collated my social media channels, Google Reader, news, and photography favourites and presented them in one handy feature.  Find it and use it.

Edited to add:  With effect from 3rd May 2013, the Google Play store has been integrated into the software for the Nook HD and the Nook HD+. 

Television and film

In the Barnes & Noble store you can also download film and television features.  Watching films on a tablet is not something that I had experienced before but, as you can see here, the HD screen ensures that you enjoy a clear, crisp viewing.  


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Conclusion

I feel that the Barnes & Noble Nook HD is a fantastic bridge between an e-reader and a tablet.  I have been using an Android tablet for over six months now and I haven't picked it up since using the Nook HD.  Any social media channels that are missing from the app market (namely Facebook and Google Plus at the time of this review) can be accessed via the browser and even over the few days that I have been using the Nook HD I have seen new features added, new additions to the libraries and shop and I am constantly finding new ways to interact with the downloads.  

On a personal level I think I'll still use my Kindle for reading books as the special offers and freebies are much more wide ranging (edit: using the Kindle app from the Google Play store bridges this gap now).  If the Barnes & Noble shop catches up with this, I may migrate completely.  I'm enjoying the magazine/newspaper experience and the speed of the apps and browser doesn't need to be any faster for personal use.

Edited to add:  As mentioned above, the integration of the Google Play store is a very clever move.  I believe that Barnes & Noble may lose out on some book and app sales but this will generate more Nook  HD unit sales because this has just made it the best Android tablet on the market in 2013.

For more information, stockists and prices visit http://uk.nook.com/

This Nook HD and access to the Barnes & Noble shop was provided for the purpose of this review.  
Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

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