Nook HD+ review

£193
Price when reviewed

The first time Barnes & Noble showed off the Nook HD+ was way back before Christmas last year. It’s been a long time coming, but this eagerly awaited 9in tablet has finally arrived, and it crams in a huge amount for the money.

Review update

This review has been updated, as new system software now allows access to Google Play.

It’s another one of those ebook reader/tablet hybrid devices, and it runs a heavily customised version of Android that hooks directly into Barnes & Noble’s own book and video stores. The front-end looks so distinctive that there’s barely a hint that it’s running Ice Cream Sandwich underneath.

This makes the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9in its closest rival; it takes a similar approach, with its own take on Android and a proprietary app store – though, unlike the Kindle Fire, the Nook HD+ permits access to Google Play as well, courtesy of a post-release software update. It’s also substantially cheaper, with prices starting at an astonishing £193 for the 16GB version – and, in many respects, the hardware is just as good.

Nook HD+

The Nook HD+ is thicker and more angular to look at than the Amazon device, and we’re not too sure about the loop set into one of the corners: it looks like it should serve a purpose, but, short of hanging it on a giant-sized keyring, we can’t think what. Build quality is beyond reproach, however: the rear panel is constructed from solid, grippy soft-touch black plastic, and the edges and screen surround are hewn from a harder, smoother material that’s slightly darker in colour.

It’s comfortable to hold, even one-handed, and a quick survey of the rest of the edges reveals a welcome touch of practicality. Beneath a flap along the bottom edge is a microSD slot, which allows you to add up to 32GB to the tablet’s 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

Oddly for a tablet designed for watching video as much as reading books and magazines, there’s no HDMI output, but the display more than makes up for this: it’s a stunner. For starters, the resolution is a better-than-HD 1,920 x 1,280, giving a pixel density of 245ppi, only 20ppi short of the iPad’s Retina display. Quality is beyond reproach, too.

Nook HD+

Text in ebooks and magazines is super-sharp – the display renders subtly textured backgrounds with convincing realism – and Full HD movies purchased from the Nook’s video store burst with detail.

Despite the glossy finish, reflections aren’t overly intrusive, which is partly due to the fact that there’s no air gap between the glass front and IPS LCD panel beneath. Brightness is top-notch, too: we measured it at 415cd/m[sup]2[/sup], only just behind the latest generation of iPad.

Hardware-wise, there’s very little to complain about. Even battery life is respectable: it played our low-resolution test video for 9hrs 33mins at half brightness before the battery was exhausted – similar to the latest, fourth generation iPad.

Detail

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical

Dimensions 210 x 11.4 x 163mm (WDH)
Weight 515g

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 9.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 1,920
Display type Multitouch, capacitive
Panel technology IPS

Battery

Battery capacity 4,000mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1.5GHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 1,000MB

Other

WiFi standard 802.11bgn
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS no
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? no
Video/TV output? no

Software

Mobile operating system Nook OS 2.0.6

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