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Barnes and Noble introduces Nook Tablet

Aggressively going after Amazon’s tablet and e-reader market, Barnes and Noble introduced a new Nook tablet that expands the line that currently features the Nook Simple Touch Reader and the Nook Color: the Nook Tablet.

The Nook Tablet offers movies and television shows in HD, books and magazines in full color, and apps and games through the company’s curated app store.

The e-reader has 11.5 hours of battery life and runs on a 1GHz dual-core tablet with 1 GB of RAM. The tablet weighs under a pound and has a 7-inch screen. It has 16 GB of memory and a free Nook Cloud service, which lets users store their content off of their devices. Netflix and Hulu Plus are preloaded on the device, as is streaming-music service Pandora.

Barnes and Noble chief executive William Lynch said that the device’s IPS lamination display — made by LG — makes for vivid colors that are easy to read from any angle. He also played up the way the tablet could be used for younger readers, showing off interactive children’s books and highlighting the company’s partnership with Marvel Comics.

The device will cost $249 and hit shelves next week. Customers can begin pre-ordering the device now, and it will begin arriving next week.

The Nook Tablet will directly compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the $199 tablet that Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos unveiled in September. Barnes and Noble is at a disadvantage in terms of content access, since Amazon makes sure that users have access to all of its retail products — books, electronics, etc. — on its tablet, but Lynch pointed out that the Fire doesn’t have nearly the same amount of memory that the Nook offers. The Nook Tablet also has more available RAM, with 1GB versus the Fire’s 512 MB. He said this will make it much easier for users to multitask and switch between multiple apps.

He also touted the fact that customers will be able to get free in-store support at any of its brick-and-mortar locations.

Barnes & Noble is also showing some love for its existing products, dropping the price of the Nook Color to a Fire-competing $199, which will also get over “100 enhancements” including access to interactive books and comics, and more apps and access to music services. The Nook Simple Touch will also get improvements to its page-turning functionality, a better display and cost $99.

The Barnes and Noble devices are still pricier than their Amazon counterparts, but may be a better fit for people who use their devices more for reading and media consumption than Web browsing.

Related stories:

Kindle Fire a hit with analysts, though most say it’s no iPad killer

Barnes and Noble to launch cheaper Nook?

Amazon takes aim at Apple’s iPad with new $199 Kindle Fire tablet

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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