With the Barnes and Noble NOOK devices being somewhat of my favorite affordable tablets, of course when they announced the new NOOK HD and NOOK HD Plus, I pre-ordered them. While other companies released their new affordable tablet devices, including the Apple iPad Mini and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, it took a little bit longer for Barnes and Noble to send out theirs, but they have finally arrived.
Because of the large variety of different sizes and brands out there, it can be tricky to make a decision if you are looking for a tablet. There are plenty of reviews out on the web that describe the good and bad about each one of them, so I will not go into that here, but the one thing that is missing is a comparison of devices next to each other. Of course you can visit the local store and see a few of them lined up, but unfortunately, B&N doesn't sell other brands, and they are the only physical store that has them at the moment.
Whenever something new and different comes out, I often get the device in order to make sure I can make the best use out of it in regards of video playback. My competitors simply rely on the specifications provided by the manufacturer, but in most cases those settings are so-called safe-settings. For me, by actually owning such a device, I am often able to come up with settings for DVD Catalyst 4 that make better use of the hardware, reduce battery-life during video playback, and of course produce better quality video files. On top of that, it makes it a lot easier for me to answer questions about the device, since I can just grab it.
Because of the above, I have build up a large collection of devices and tablets over the years, so doing a comparison between a couple of them is pretty easy for me to do.
Below a collection of pictures of the NOOK HD along side a variety of other common tablets. I don't have a good location for taking pictures, so they are a bit dark. I did turn up the brightness on all of them to make it a bit more clear though.
The Barnes and Noble NOOK HD.
I picked the white one this time. With most of my tablets, I tend to go for the darker version, if there is a choice, but I figured the new white model looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, when watching videos on it, the white border can be a bit distracting though.
The NOOK family. Since my main use for the tablets is video playback and app development, I do not own any eReader-only NOOK's, so I only have the NOOK tablet (top-left), NOOK color (top right), NOOK HD+ (bottom left) and the NOOK HD (bottom right).
The NOOK HD sticks out from the rest with its border style. Originally, I didn't like the thicker border on the NOOK color when it first came out, but with the glass screen, I found that it actually works really well to hold it. I miss that on the NOOK HD a bit. Also the charm-corner is missing, which might be something to consider if you like to personalize your NOOK from the outside a bit.
Another group shot of the NOOK family.
NOOK color next to the NOOK HD.
While there are quite a few people who upgraded from the NOOK color to the NOOK tablet, I didn't see the Nook tablet as too much of an improvement over the NOOK color. Of course a few things were changed, but to me, it was basically the same, aside from a faster processor and a different tint border. The original NOOK color has some sensitivity issues with the screen, and this remained with the NOOK tablet.
If you stuck with your NOOK color, and are thinking about upgrading to a NOOK HD, it will be quite an improvement. The NOOK HD feels faster and of course it is more powerful and runs a newer operating system under the hood, making the experience more enjoyable.
NOOK tablet next to NOOK HD.
Size-wise and screen-wise, there is no difference between the NOOK color and the NOOK tablet, but for completion I included a picture of the NOOK tablet next to the NOOK HD as well.
NOOK HD next to Kindle Fire HD.
Of course the NOOK HD is a direct competitor to Amazon's Kindle Fire HD.
To pick between the 2 is not that easy. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Speed-wise, there is no real difference, the NOOK is faster at some things, the Fire is faster in other things. The big differences between the 2, the ones that actually matter (a review between 2 devices doesn't mean anything if you only have 1 of them) are memory expansion and content.
The NOOK HD has a memory-slot, so you can actually add more memory to it. This comes in handy for movies and music. If you go on a trip, pick up an additional memorycard and load it up with movies. The Kindle Fire HD doesn't have that, so you can only carry with you what will fit on it.
The Kindle Fire HD has content. Of course there are apps for the NOOK, and B&N recently started doing videos, but Amazon has a fully stocked app store, free app of the day etc, and a fully loaded video service, and with Amazon Prime, a lot of free movies and TV shows.
One of my biggest gripes about the pay-movie service of B&N (as well as iTunes/Google Play etc) is that they offer movies for near DVD/Bluray pricing, but still impose limitations on the files, effectively locking you to their store.
Another shot of the NOOK HD next to the Kindle Fire HD.
NOOK HD next to iPad3
Another popular competitor for the NOOK HD is the iPad (and the iPad Mini, but I skipped that one).
Not much to say here. The iPad devices are cool, and they have it all, but to me they feel too "clinical". The iPad name has become somewhat of a synonym to the word tablet thanks to its popularity, but it misses personality. And of course, with every release, it feels like Apple is holding back the good stuff for next year, and dropping support for some older models. The NOOK color is still being sold today and will make it to quite a few X-Mas lists.
NOOK HD next to Motorola Xoom.
The Xoom is slightly newer than the 2 year old NOOK color, but is also still going strong. Of course it benefits from the Google Play and Amazon Appstores for content, and while larger, it can now also be had for a similar price and features a memory slot.
A touch choice between the 2. The Xoom benefits from a more open Android version, making it more configurable, but the NOOK HD has a sharper screen and is easier to use.
NOOK HD next to Microsoft Surface RT.
Just for kicks, a picture of the HD next to the Surface. I'm sure you have all seen the commercials on TV about the Surface RT, but I haven't seen anyone "clicking it" in real life, so this should give you an idea about the difference in size.
Of course, the NOOK HD is still marketed as an eReader, and the Surface RT more as a PC, so they are aimed towards different user groups, but it is funny to see them along side each other.
NOOK HD next to NOOK HD+
Of course if you are already considering a new NOOK, there is another choice, the NOOK HD+.
I'll post some additional pictures of the HD+ in a different article on my website, but there it is in its full glory next to the HD.
Aside from the size and screen resolution, the HD and the HD+ are, from a user experience, about the same. The NOOK HD+ is a bit of a strange one though. It is too big to be an eReader. It works great for media and such, but to actually read on it is a bit of a struggle.
NOOK tablet next to the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+
Should you upgrade to a NOOK HD?
It is hard to say. It really depends on what you are doing with it. The new NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ offer nicer screens, seemingly less flicker and don't have the same touch-screen issues as the NOOK color and the NOOK tablet. Both do come with the restricted NOOK interface and the limited apps, so it really depends. Looking at it's direct competitors, the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, the memory expansion slot is a big point for me to go with the NOOK HD, but if apps and games (especially free ones) is more your thing, the other 2 offer a bit more.
Group shot of all the tablets used for the pics here.
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 converts your movie and TV show collection (DVD, AVI, MKV, ISO etc) to great quality video files that are perfectly optimized to play on portable devices.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including Apple’s full iPad/iPod and iPhone product line (including iPhone 5 and iPad Mini), Amazon Kindle Fire (all models, including the HD and HD 8.9),the Barnes & Noble NOOK (NOOK color, tablet, HD, HD+), Asus Transformer (original, Prime, Infinity etc), all Samsung’s Galaxy models, including the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Xperia, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom and much more.
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