The new Nook Tablet: How does it measure up?

Nook Tablet.

Suddenly, we have an emergence of a whole new class of device. It's something that doesn't quite do all the things an iPad or other fully functional tablet can handle. But it's also something that is a little more versatile and robust than an e-book reader.

Should we call it a mini-tablet? A turbo reader?

Amazon kicked off this classification with the Kindle Fire, a souped-up Kindle that will have a browser, let you watch movies and TV, and run apps. Now Barnes & Noble has responded with the Nook Tablet, a souped-up version of its Nook reader. It will have native Hulu and Netflix apps and more memory than the Kindle Fire. It will also cost $50 more, coming in at $249 compared to Kindle Fire's $199.

Among the justifications for the higher price, Barnes & Noble says it's prepared to support the Nook Tablet at any of its bricks and mortar stores. Just stop right in without an appointment and they'll help you out.

Joshua Topolsky is co-founder and editor-in-chief at theverge.com. He says price is the main difference between the two: "They're both mini-tablets based on Android. You know, they have capacitive touch screens like iPad; they can run apps but they each have their own private app store or their version of the Android market, so they don't have Google's Android, they have their own Barnes & Noble or Amazon app marketplace. And the Nook Tablet has a little more RAM. They are emphasizing on-board storage with Nook Tablet, so the Kindle fire has 8 gigabytes of storage, Nook has 16."

Your shopping options already include a variety of computer gadgets if you are so inclined: phones, e-readers, laptops, desktops, tablets. Before you pony up for a mini-tablet, however, he says to ask yourself some questions. "I think the first question," he says, "is do you want an iPad? If you're thinking of buying an iPad, you're going to have some things you can't do with these devices. Certainly their ecosystems in terms of the kinds of applications you can get are not going to be nearly as vast. And there are limitations in other ways. They don't have cameras, they only offer Wi-Fi models, they don't have Bluetooth, but they're of course half the price."

Then again, maybe you don't need your machine to do all that much. "If you find that you really only want to read books and maybe very occasionally check email or watch a little bit of video," says Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET, "You might be perfectly happy with the Kindle Fire, which is great because it's the cheapest option. Then it goes up from there in terms of what you can do. The Nook Tablet is compelling, you get close to an iPad, you get a relatively full-fledged version of Android, you can do all that media consumption and read for half the price of an iPad."

Wood thinks that if you're trying to save money, "the one that's looking like it's in trouble is a $500 tablet. It gets hard to justify, unless you really want that bigger screen. The fact is that you'll be able to do email, browse the web, read books and watch video on a tablet that now costs $250."

Also on today's program, some guy is inventing a way to change brown eyes into blue eyes and all it takes is a laser shot into your eyeball. Or you could just wear contacts. Or accept your eyes the way you are. I mean, if you don't want the lasers. Shot into your eyes.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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