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- Barnes & Noble and Lenovo’s new Nook tablet is great for budget-minded shoppers.
- Its access to the Google Play Store gives the Nook a big advantage over Amazon’s Fire tablets.
- It only costs $129.99, but lacks power and the 1080p screen found on Amazon’s tablets.
Barnes & Noble was late to enter the e-reader market, coming two years after Amazon released its first Kindle. But with its newest Nook tablet, the bookseller is making up for lost time.
Barnes & Noble partnered with PC maker Lenovo to release an inexpensive 10-inch Android tablet with a focus on the reading experience. Without question, this Nook is a solid alternative to Amazon’s tablets, especially the Fire HD 10.
Barnes & Noble and Lenovo’s Nook tablet offers a sturdy aluminum construction and full integration with the Barnes & Noble reading apps for an affordable price of $129.99. But the Nook’s biggest selling point is that – unlike the Amazon Fire tablets – it runs on the full Android 10 operating system with access to the Google Play Store.
The screen on the Nook isn’t as sharp as the Fire HD 10, nor is the tablet particularly powerful. But it’s a great tablet for anyone on a budget interested in streaming video or reading books across multiple apps.
|Nook 10-inch HD Tablet Designed with Lenovo||Specs|
|Display||10.1-inch,1280 x 800, 149 pixels-per-inch|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio P22T Tab|
|Cameras||8-megapixel rear, 5-megapixel front|
|Memory and storage||2GB RAM, 32GB of storage expandable up to 256GB|
|Battery||Estimated up to 11 hours|
|Ports||USB-C, microSD slot, headphone jack, smart connector|
Design and display
The new Nook is basically just the Lenovo Tab M10 HD stuffed with Nook applications. By looking at the box, you might not know that you were getting a Nook at all. That’s because it displays the Lenovo Tab M10 HD’s image without a single mention of Barnes & Noble or the Nook. It’s clear that this is an Android tablet first, and a Nook second.
The tablet has thin side bezels with slightly thicker borders at the top and bottom of its smooth aluminum casing. There’s a smart connector on the left, though Barnes & Noble currently doesn’t sell any accessories that take advantage of it.
The tablet’s 10.1-inch display only has a resolution of 1280 x 800. This is the one area in which the Amazon Fire HD 10 has a clear advantage over the Nook. The Kindle Fire HD 10 features a full 1080p display at 224 pixels-per-inch, while the Nook is stuck at 149 pixels-per-inch. Even the $90 Kindle Fire HD 8 – at 189 pixels-per-inch – offers more in this regard than the Nook.
Words on the Nook are certainly legible, and the low resolution doesn’t affect the reading or viewing experience too much. But it’s definitely noticeable – especially for people who are coming from iPhones, iPads, and other devices with sharper screens. Like many tablets, the new Nook has a blue light filter, which is especially useful on a tablet like this that’s designed for reading.
The Nook is noticeably lighter than the Fire HD 10 – coming in at 14.8 ounces versus the 16.4 ounces of the Fire – which means it won’t weigh down your bag.
Nook Features and reading experience
Barnes & Noble and Lenovo’s tablet is mostly an Android tablet, but it does have some Nook-specific features. The home screen features two prominent widgets that display your Nook user profile along with what you are currently reading, along with a separate widget showcasing your recent book purchases.
There are also three black-and-white icons pinned to the bottom of the home screen: Library, Bookstore, and Current Read. The Library app houses your Nook books collection, the bookstore sends you to Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore, and Current Read launches the book you’re currently reading. You can easily rearrange or disable these apps, but can’t delete them.
Despite the low screen resolution, reading on the Nook is pleasant. The tablet is great to hold, and the Google Play store offers just about any reading app you might need – including the Kindle. That’s right, you can read your Kindle books on the Nook. All you have to do is download the app and sign in.
Both the Nook and Kindle apps offer similar reading experiences – so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget which app you are using. They both feature tons of adjustable font sizes, styles and margins. The Kindle app allows for a few more customization options than the Nook, such as two additional font choices and more background colors.
But both apps can estimate the amount of the time left in a chapter or the entire book and display page numbers where supported.
Which app you use really depends on where you purchase most of your books. Amazon and Barnes & Noble both offer expansive ebook collections, with new releases heading to both platforms.
What sets this Nook apart from its Amazon counterpart is that it’s an excellent platform-agnostic e-reader. As an e-book enthusiast with a robust collection across multiple platforms, the ability to download multiple e-reading apps on the Google Play Store is an absolute gamechanger. I can read all of my books on this Nook, no matter where they come from, at a fraction of the cost of an iPad or more robust Android tablet.
Unlike Nook’s tablet, Amazon’s Fire tablets are firmly locked into the Amazon ecosystem. For example, it’s not possible to download the Nook app onto a Fire device from the Amazon App Store.
The selection of library apps and other e-reader apps is also severely limited on Amazon’s tablet. Apps like the library app Libby, comic reader Marvel Unlimited, browsers like Google Chrome, and popular games like “Plants vs. Zombies” are all missing from Amazon’s tablets.
For those who find Amazon’s options too restrictive, the Nook is a breath of fresh air. The tablet might not be powerful enough to run all of my favorite apps and games, but at least it offers the chance to try them.
Performance and battery life
This Nook runs on a MediaTek Helio P22T Tab processor and has 2GB of memory, meaning it’s not particularly fast or powerful. That’s not surprising at this price point.
It succeeds at streaming movies, loading books, and turning pages, but don’t ask it to do much more. Even the smallest actions can cause stuttering. For example, there is sometimes a slight delay when opening apps like Chrome or surfacing the on-screen keyboard.
Games are tricky for the Nook. Older, less graphic-intensive games, such as “Plants vs. Zombies,” play without so much as a hiccup, but newer 3-D games stutter and crash.The Geekbench 5 benchmarking app that’s meant to evaluate the processor’s performance quit halfway through its assessment of the Nook multiple times.
But watching movies and TV on the Nook is seamless. The two speakers on the tablet punch way above their weight, providing sound that is loud enough to fill a small room at only a quarter volume. Plus, the Google Play Store has just about every streaming service you might want.
Barnes & Noble claims that the Nook gets up to 11 hours of battery life based on reading, watching videos, and web browsing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. It generally lasts me three days on a charge after spending two hours per day reading and another two hours watching TV.
The cameras on the Nook perform less admirably than the battery. The tablet has a 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The latter of which can – in theory – be used for face authentication, but usually fails to recognize me.
Should you buy it?
Barnes & Noble’s latest tablet built with Lenovo is a good choice for those seeking an affordable tablet designed mainly for reading and watching videos. Access to the Google Play store means that most reading and streaming apps work well on this tablet. But the Nook is slow and lacks a full 1080p screen.
What are your alternatives?
There is little incentive to opt for the Nook if you are thoroughly immersed in the Kindle ecosystem and never plan to read a book outside of it. The Amazon Fire HD 10 offers a much sharper screen and other benefits for only $20 more.
You could also opt for the $179.99 Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus – which is almost identical to the Fire HD 10 except for the addition of wireless charging and an extra gigabyte of RAM. Both tablets feature integration with Alexa – including the ability to control smart-home devices, set alarms, and ask for news or recipes. The major trade-off is that you lose access to the Google Play Store.
A pricier choice is the 10.2-inch iPad. It offers a jam-packed app store, Apple’s fast and powerful A12 Bionic processor, multitasking capabilities, and support for the Apple Pencil and other accessories. We even called it the best overall iPad. But priced at $329, the iPad is almost three times more expensive than the Nook.
The bottom line
The $129.99 Nook 10-inch HD Tablet Designed with Lenovo is a great alternative to Amazon for those seeking an inexpensive tablet for reading books and watching videos. The processor is sluggish and the screen resolution is less than ideal. But the sturdy design and access to the Google Play store make this a perfect pickup for those who need more than Amazon will give them.
Pros: Good battery life, sturdy design, access to the Google Play store, loud speakers
Cons: Slow processor, lacks a full HD screen