As expected, bookseller Barnes & Noble (NYS: BKS) unveiled its new Nook Tablet during a media event Monday morning, promising a wealth of e-books, mobile applications and HD video content in its bid to rival Amazon.com's (NAS: AMZN) forthcoming Kindle Fire as well as Apple's (NAS: AAPL) market-leading iPad.
Priced at $249, which is $50 more than the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet (due Nov. 17) boasts twice the RAM of its competitor and double the storage, offering consumers access to millions of books as well as more than 250 periodicals, many with interactive features. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said the tablet will preload Hulu Plus and Netflix video services as well as streaming music solution Pandora, and also offering access to thousands of other applications. "Kindle Fire is deficient for a media tablet," Lynch said. "Content will render better on Nook than on Kindle Fire."
The Android-based Nook Tablet also includes a seven-inch VividView IPS color touchpanel with 1024 x 600 screen resolution, a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4 processor, 16GB of inbuilt storage, a microSD expansion slot, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and support for file formats including ePUB, PDF, XLS, DOC, PPT, TXT, DOCM, Flash, JPG, MP3, MP4 and AAC. B&N promises approximately 11.5 hours of battery life in e-reader mode and about nine hours dedicated to video viewing.
Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet does not feature wireless network connectivity -- nor does it include a camera like the iPad 2 does. Lynch said he doesn't view the iPad as a direct rival to the Nook Tablet: "Form factor matters," Lynch said. "Despite the fact [that Apple is] closing in on 40 million iPads in the U.S., the iBookstore is still a much smaller share of the overall market than is the Nook bookstore and the Kindle bookstore. That is because these devices, including Nook Color, have been optimized around the reading experience."
Corresponding with the Nook Tablet launch, Barnes & Noble will drop the price of its Simple Touch E Ink-based eReader from $139 to $99. B&N also promised the Simple Touch will run about 25 percent faster than before and tout an improved display.
Amazon.com unveiled the Kindle Fire in late September. Essentially a single, portable point of access to digital media initiatives including the Kindle e-book catalog, Amazon Appstore for Android, Amazon Instant Video and Amazon MP3, the Android-based Kindle Fire also integrates with the Amazon Web Services platform and features Amazon Silk, a new cloud-based browser promising to accelerate the mobile web user experience by caching and compressing data and images. Reports indicate that the Nook Tablet does not include browser support.
As of the second quarter of 2011, the Kindle brand leads the worldwide e-reader market with a 51.7 percent share, followed by the Nook brand at 21.2 percent, according to IDC data issued in September.
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