Truly the Rasputin of tablets, Barnes & Noble’s Nook refuses to go away for once and for all. Created as a bulwark against nemesis Amazon’s Kindle platform, the Nook never really took with consumers, no matter how many attempts the bookseller has made.
We last saw a new Nook back at the end of 2018, when Barnes & Noble offered an updated version of a small tablet designed to compete with the cheap 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. As usual, it landed with the thud of a thick art book hitting a coffee tablet, and yet continued to linger in B & N’s stores and on its website.
Fast forward to 2021, and Barnes & Noble has decided that it’s time for another new Nook, tweaking its strategy again in the hopes of finally landing a best seller. Rather than compete with Amazon at the bottom of the price scale, it’s decided to take on the Fire HD 10, the biggest, priciest Kindle tablet. The book retailer has also brought in a new hardware partner, Lenovo, to help produce the latest Nook.
The Nook 10″ HD Tablet, as it’s being called, leans on its Android OS a little more than the Kindle Fire, touting its support for Google Play and Google Assistant, though the Nook store for digital reading material remains. Though the launch announcement doesn’t specifically mention resolution, the HD in the name suggests it will match the Fire HD 10’s 1,920×1,200 display, with its 2.3GHz octa-core processor competing favorably with the Fire’s 2GHz octa-core chip.
Like the base Fire HD 10, the new Nook includes 32GB of built-in storage, with a microSD slot to provide additional capacity. It’s unclear if the Nook will come in a 64GB version, however, which Amazon does offer for the Fire HD 10. Its claimed battery life of 10 hours is a couple of hours less than its competitor, though mileage always varies when it comes to those figures. The new Nook is lighter than the Fire HD 10 (14.4 ounces to 17.8 ounces), features all-metal construction, and oddly offers a built-in FM radio that may appeal to an older demographic, but isn’t a usual tablet feature.
The key advantage that Barnes & Noble is hoping the new Nook will have over its rival is when it comes to pricing. Starting at $129,99, the Nook 10″ HD Tablet will be $20 cheaper when it arrives in April than the current price of the Fire HD 10, a not insignificant difference if you’re looking for a 10-inch Android tablet and don’t want to deal with Amazon’s walled garden approach to apps. But is that enough for the Nook carve out its, ahem, nook in the tablet space, especially given Amazon’s massive Kindle platform and the ability to drop the Fire HD 10’s price whenever Amazon feels like it? History strongly suggests otherwise, but history also suggests this won’t be the last we’ll be hearing about the Nook, regardless of how this latest version does.