Barnes & Noble has announced its Nook HD tablet as a straight up rival to Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and we've managed to get some hands-on time with the Android tablet.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

 

Like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, the Nook HD uses a 7in screen. Barnes & Noble prides itself on quality display technology and it's managed to trump the competition. The Nook HD has a 1440 x 900 resolution compared to 1280 x 800. This means it's the highest resolution 7in tablet we’ve seen with a pixel density of 243ppi. We were impressed with the viewing angles, vibrant colours and brightness on offer from the Nook HD's screen.

The Nook HD is also lighter than its main rivals at 315g, although it doesn't have the most svelte design at 11m thick. It has a rubbery finish with a fairly big bezel around the screen making it extremely easy to hold in one hand in any orientation. However, it doesn’t look as sleek or as cool as the Nexus 7. Two colours are on offer: 'smoke' (aka grey) or 'snow' (aka white).

Pricing is competitive at £159 for the 8GB, matching Google's pricing for the Nexus 7. However, the 16GB model is £10 cheaper at £189. Amazon does offer twice the amount of storage for £159 and £199 but the Nook HD has an ace up its sleeve – a microSD card slot with neither the Nexus nor Kindle Fire offers.

We didn't notice any problems with performance but we'll reserve judgement until we've had the Nook HD in our lab for some proper test. The tablet is powered by an OMAP 4470 1.3GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

Barnes & Noble has opted for Android as the operating system. However, like the Kindle Fire HD, it's a heavily customised version of 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The sample we took a looked at didn't have the final version of the software so we'll comment on it in more detail when we bring you a full review.

What we can say is that the focus is on content. The Nook Store will be the place to get all your apps, books, videos, magazines and such like. Hopefully there will be plenty of selection or the Nook HD won't be good for much.

At a glance, the Nook HD is a decent competitor for the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The excellent screen will be the main lure but customers will have to be ok with using the customised Android user interface.

OUR VERDICT

At a glance, the Nook HD is a decent competitor for the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The excellent screen will be the main lure but customers will have to be content with using the customised Android user interface.