Look and feel
The Nook HD is a chunky-yet-lightweight seven-inch tablet that resembles the Nexus 7 by Asus. It’s comfortable to clutch and use one-handed, with a solid build.
Ease of Use
The Nook’s custom interface completely transforms Android, but is simple to use and well laid out, with excellent profile management so the whole family can set it up just the way they like
You may not get a front or back camera, but the Nook HD more than makes up for it with a supremely sharp screen. The Nook store is great for books and mags, but not as well equipped for apps and media as the Google Play store.
A dual-core processor copes admirably with HD movies, web browsing and most other tasks, although we did see some slowdown in apps that were photo-heavy.
Five hours of media playback is average for a tablet, but you’ll get more as always by dimming the display and turning off Wi-Fi.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,1/15/2013 4:31:27 PM
Ease of use
Crisp seven-inch display;
Friendly interface with profiles;
Light and portable;
Large book and magazine catalogue
No Google Play access;
We’ve seen fantastically affordable tablets from some unexpected sources lately, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and the Kobo Arc tablet, and into the fray storms the Nook HD from Barnes and Noble. The original Nook e-reader was a great way to consume vast amounts of ebooks for little cash, but can the Nook HD expand this to include movies, apps and more, with its deliciously crisp seven-inch screen?
The Nook HD is built similar to the Nexus 7 by Asus, with a solid seven-inch body that’s rubberised on the back for an easy one-handed grip. It’s a cinch to use with one hand, and won’t ache your arms with its 315g weight (equal to Apple’s iPad Mini). The frame is solid, while the bezel juts out over the screen to protect it if the Nook tumbles out of your grasp. Our only bugbear is the proprietary charger port, which means you can’t borrow your mate’s Micro USB cable if you leave your charger at home. There’s no front or rear-facing cameras for Skyping or taking random pics either.
Inside you get a 1.3GHz processor which copes admirably with most tasks, although we did notice some slowdown in apps that are photo-heavy. Thankfully websites loaded quickly and were smooth to navigate on the whole. With the 16GB model you get 12GB of usable built-in storage for downloading apps, media and more from the Nook store, plus a covered MicroSD slot for expanding further. You can also store all of your Nook store purchases for free in the Nook Cloud, providing a handy backup.
Your first task is to set up a profile, which involves choosing a photo (there’s no front-facing camera to take one sadly), and picking your interests from a list including ‘celebrity’, ‘literature’, ‘games’ and other hobbies. With that done, you’re taken to your personal desktop which wishes you a good morning/afternoon/evening – could this be the friendliest tablet ever?
Upon booting up the tablet, you log into your personal profile by dragging your face into the centre of the screen. Sadly we saw no way of setting passwords, so you’ll just have to trust other users not to mess with your settings.
You’re presented with five customisable desktops when you log in, which can be populated with shortcuts to your favourite books, mags, apps, media and more. These can be quickly moved around by dragging with your finger, or opened with a tap. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to accidentally drag an icon when you’re trying to swipe left or right to a different desktop, which is mildly annoying. We also found that some of the icons overlapped in landscape mode, giving the desktop a messy, cluttered appearance.
Your homepage is the central desktop, which can be called up at any time by tapping the ‘n’ Nook button on the front of the tablet. This features an Active Shelf, which holds links to your most recent apps, files and more. You also get the groovy ‘Your Nook Today’ button, which calls up the latest weather in your area plus recommendations from the Nook store based on prior purchases.
Overall we like the Nook HD’s unique look, which sets it apart from other Android tablets. It’s fresh and clean, and although you can’t stick your own wallpaper on, at least you aren’t bombarded with adverts as you are with the Amazon Kindle Fire.
We found it incredibly easy to set up our email, calendar and other online bits – we use Gmail, and all we had to do was enter our ID and password and the Nook HD did the rest. Your appointments and emails are clearly presented with a consistent look. Likewise, copying media over is just a case of hooking up to your PC. Books are displayed clearly and are easy to navigate, and another standout was the comic reader, which presents either entire pages or individual panels, with a smooth transition with every flick of your finger.
The Nook Store can be accessed with a quick tap for downloading apps, movies, books and more. It’s sadly far from comprehensive when it comes to films, music and apps, lacking even big titles such as Avengers Assemble: the Google Play store has a lot more content in every area except for books, but isn’t available on the Nook HD. That said, there are plenty of big apps and games available (your Fruit Ninjas and Asphalts and Angry Birds Star Wars are all present and correct), so you shouldn’t go bored any time soon. The massive selection of books and magazines will also send a shiver of delight down readers’ spines.
“Amazing HD screen – highest resolution on a 7” tablet” boasts the Nook HD’s box, and it isn’t an empty promise. Everything from glossy magazines to the latest blockbusters look fantastic thanks to the 243 ppi resolution, which easily trumps the iPad Mini’s display. There’s no noticeable motion blur and viewing angles are strong enough to watch a film with a friend, if you don’t mind the compact screen. It isn’t the brightest screen around and reflective in sunlight, but it holds up well under most conditions.
As for battery life, we managed five hours of continuous video playback on a single charge. That’s on full display brightness and with Wi-Fi turned on, and an average result for a tablet. You’ll manage to wring out another hour or so by dimming the display.
The Nook HD is a user-friendly tablet that you can share with the whole family, thanks to its excellent profiles and unique, personable interface. The seven-inch screen is a splendidly sharp delight whether you’re chugging through the massive catalogue of books or taking in a Hollywood blockbuster. However, if you’re after a machine for games or apps, the Nexus 7 by Asus remains a superior choice with its quad-core Nvidia processor and access to Google Play.