Standard design and limited usability, unless you only care about Barnes & Noble books.

Because the tablet is small and light, it's very easy to hold in one hand while you operate it with the other. Due to its somewhat small width, however, the tablet is a bit awkward to hold in a landscape format without accidental screen touches—if you have larger hands, be wary how you use this one.

As the has a capacitive touchscreen and few buttons, virtually all of your interactions happens through the screen. Controlling the isn't difficult, but it isn't all that easy, either. For example, depending on the app you use, you are forced to move the screen as it switches to a different orientation. Additionally, the layouts aren't all that intuitive, and there's very little you can do to customize your experience.

Barnes & Noble gutted Android of almost all its functionality.

Much of this has to do with the fact that the Nook HD's operating system, like that of the Kindle Fire HD, is basically a re-skin of an older Android build, but with all the goodies of that OS ripped out and replaced by what the manufacturer wants. In this case, Barnes & Noble gutted Android of almost all its functionality outside of buying books and periodicals, and that's a problem.

As far as connectivity options go, the specs on the aren't all that impressive, though there are a bunch of people out there who will like the expandable memory capability afforded by the microSD card slot. If you buy the cable through Barnes & Noble, you can get HDMI out, but we were unable to test this at the lab in time for publishing. Aside from the standard 802.11n wireless card in the device, there are no other wireless standards, so what you see here is what you get.

Very few features and very uninspiring performance

Cramming a 1440 x 900 resolution into a 6 x 3.75-inch screen, the certainly lives up to its name, as it's capable of displaying content at or above 720p. Aside from pixel density, though, it's a rather poor performer in the other tests we subjected it to, namely in color accuracy. That's not to say that the very high peak brightness is anything to shake a stick at: It's very good for use in the outdoors.

It's very good for use in the outdoors.

The 's high peak brightness allows it to be seen in a broader range of lighting conditions than most tablets, but as its reflectivity is also higher, you'll notice a very distracting and sharp reflection pattern even when you're not in direct sunlight. This tablet can be used outdoors fairly well, but see what you can do to get away from direct light sources.

If you're an app addict, widget wizard, or game glutton, this is not the tablet for you unless you plan on doing some seriously involved modding. Not only does the Nook HD have an app store that is devoid of most apps (though Netflix is present), but it is very difficult to install and run APKs acquired by other means as well. Most of the apps available to you are specifically geared towards consumption of Barnes & Noble's proprietary content like books and periodicals.

Fair hardware, but a cripplingly bad user experience

Android's open-source nature has led to many things, including the propensity for companies wanting to make a cheaper tablet to get in on the market. Barnes & Noble did just that with its newest line of Nook tablets by making a tightly-controlled and closed system with barely any content or apps. It would be one thing if they kept more of the original build of Android, or they came in at a lower price point than the offering from Google didn't, and there's very little reason at all to buy this tablet.

We're not going to tell you that it's universally bad, but it just doesn't fit into the market the way even the Amazon Kindle Fire HDs do, as even Amazon has a much larger content library and app store than Barnes & Noble. From a performance standpoint, there's no concrete step up that would justify paying the same amount of money for much less.

If you can find the at a bargain bin or sale, it may be worth taking a look, just as long as you're aware of the many shortcomings you will experience while owning it. However, if you're a fan of apps, widgets, streaming content, or games, this is a tablet to skip.

The software may be bad, but the hardware is... also bad.

High pixel density, but poor all-around performance

The is built around a 6 x 3.75-inch screen with a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, giving you a PPI of 240. While this screen is on the small end, you will be able to view HD content on it without as much rescaling issues as older tablets had.

Unfortunately for the Nook HD, its screen leaves something to be desired in terms of contrast performance. Despite its very high peak brightness of 489.28 cd/m2, its black level is also very high at 0.87 cd/m2, giving it a poor contrast ratio of 562:1. A wide contrast ratio is important to have on a screen, as it allows the display to reproduce far more values along the greyscale, and therefore more detail in shadows.

Like many of the older Android tablets, the has a terrible color gamut. Not only are reds, greens, and blues severely undersaturated, but the blues are shifted so far towards cyan that you'll notice it right away. Unsurprisingly, this will cause you consternation if you are a videophile, or the color balance on your photos is important to you.

Fairly decent battery life

Hardly a check in the negative column, the Nook HD has above-average battery life—just enough to last for a short intra-continental flight or commute. With all additional processes disabled and the backlight cranked to 11, we were able to wring out 6 hours and 24 minutes reading an eBook, and 6 hours, 43 minutes watching some of the most horrible acting ever.

Considering the fact that the Nook HD really doesn't have much in the way of apps to rip down your battery's charge, there's not going to be a ton of things besides leaving the wireless going or adjusting the screen brightness that will alter your battery life. Still, your experience may vary from ours depending on a slew of factors, so our results are more of a ballpark than hard limit.

Meet the testers

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews
Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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