If you're looking for a tablet that offers a great family-focused reading experience, experts say the Barnes & Noble Nook HD is a solid option buoyed by a class-leading display and long battery life. However, while the tablet offers a ton of reading content, the rest of its app and media collection is almost shockingly slim and performance issues abound.
Every inch a cheap tablet. While the Nook HD's 1,440-by-900-pixel display bests the resolutions of the Google Nexus 7 (*Est. $200 and up) and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (*Est. $200 and up), the rest of the tablet doesn't meet the screen's high standards. Some reviewers report having a smooth experience, but others cite frequent -- and occasionally severe -- performance issues. "(I feel) like I'm beta-testing a device that will someday have its kinks ironed out," David Pierce writes at TheVerge.com. The audio suffers from low volumes and tinny acoustics, experts add.
Family friendly. The Nook HD boasts robust parental controls, including multiple user accounts so Mom's "50 Shades of Grey" never appears alongside Timmy's Dr. Seuss collection. Parents can also adjust the content each profile can access.
Barnes & Noble offers a plethora of reading materials, as one would expect, but reviewers complain that the selection of general apps, videos and music is downright horrible. PCMag.com's Sascha Segan calls it "the most locked-down of any tablet we've seen." There aren't any cameras, either.
Custom designed, but still user-friendly. The Barnes & Noble Nook HD runs a heavily skinned and customized version of Android that critics call a breeze to navigate, lack of a constant back-button option aside. As noted, some reviewers run into frequent responsiveness issues, but many do not.
For most, there are better choices. It's hard to say that a $200 tablet with a 1,440-by-900-pixel display isn't a good value, but the limited content selection and the potential for usability issues makes the media-rich Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the barn-burning Google Nexus 7 much better values.
Segan appreciates the Nook HD's pixel-packed screen, abundance of reading material and solid build quality. However, the general lack of nonreading materials available and small app marketplace make it a far less appealing and versatile option than the Nexus 7 or the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook HD, Sascha Segan, Nov. 1, 2012
2. The Verge
Pierce says that reading e-books and watching movies are two particular joys, but the skimpy content selection and "constant, pervasive performance issues" are among the major drawbacks with the Nook HD. "From the slow UI to the poor gaming performance, this just isn't a fun device to use," he writes.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook HD Review, David Pierce, Oct. 30, 2012
3. Laptop Magazine
Piltch doesn't experience the same performance issues noted by other reviewers, but he does mention the relative lack of content available. Nevertheless, the Nook HD's bright and detailed screen, excellent reading experience and robust parental controls lead him to give the slate 4 stars out of 5. "However, despite making some strides, Barnes & [Noble's] ecosystem simply isn't as robust as the competition," he says.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook HD Review, Avram Piltch, Oct. 30, 2012
Heater loves the Nook HD's build quality, including its eye-popping screen and durable battery life. However, he questions the lack of a camera, and says the bland and buggy software interface "doesn't feel as if it got quite as much attention."
Review: Nook HD Review: A High-Def Tablet With the Heart of a Reader, Brian Heater, Oct. 30 , 2012
Potential buyers should consider the Nook HD a great e-book reader with the ability to do a lot more rather than a full-fledged tablet, Biggs' review suggests. In that light, he says the Nook HD is a viable alternative to the Kindle Fire HD. "If you're looking for a solid, stand-alone reader with lots of media chops, you could do worse than picking up one of these this holiday," he writes.
Review: Review: The New Nook HD Tablet Is Just About the Best Reader You Can Buy, John Biggs, Oct. 30, 2012
The Nook HD's overall build quality earns props in CNET's review, as well, but Franklin says the slate's lack of content makes it less appealing than similarly priced alternatives. "The Barnes & Noble Nook HD can't match competing tablets in media library breadth, but as long as you're not looking for bells and whistles, its sharp screen and comfortable body make it an ideal tablet choice for reading books and magazines."
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook HD: A Reading Tablet for Non-Techies, Eric Franklin, Oct. 30, 2012