After tearing open the package, you'll notice that there's a wall charger, USB cable, and a few bits of documentation under where the tablet sits.
Instead of adopting the strange philosophy that "thinner is always better," the actually is fairly thick compared to competitor tablets, and gives you something to grab onto. Given that the unit is also quite light, there isn't a ton of levering force on your thumb when you hold it with only one hand, so handling the tablet is quite easy no matter how you do it.
The largest of Barnes & Noble's new offerings, the has a 7.5" x 5" screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels, making it more pixel-laden than your average HDTV. In fact, this is largely the main selling point of the tablet, though it really has little need for a screen pixel-dense, as the content simply isn't there for it to be eminently useful. With high reflectivity and low performance, this isn't a great option for watching movies.
Taking a tablet outside is almost never a fun experience on a sunny day, but the certainly doesn't do a whole heck of a lot to mitigate this bad experience. Not only does it have high reflectivity, but the backlight still isn't quite where it needs to be in order to overpower a bright lighting condition.
NOTE: The images above are shot with a variety of lighting sources, which may cause some color shift.
Due to the very high pixel density of the Nook HD+ and the nature of human eyes, the text on the screen of the tablet will look more or less like it would on a printed page, as the pixel density is very high. Unless you have better than 20/20 vision, you’re probably not going to notice any “stair-stepping” or pixels doubling up.
By reflecting 13.1% of light shone on the screen at the user, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ has a relatively high reflectivity, but there are worse tablets out there. Still, the reflection pattern is very sharp and annoying, and this will definitely cause consternation in the outdoors.
As the branding alludes to, the Nook HD+ has a relatively pixel-dense screen, though it doesn’t really quite compare with the highest end of tablets. Occupying a real estate of 7.5″ × 5″ screen with a resolution of 1920 × 1280 of tiny pixels, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ has a density of 256 pixels per inch (PPI). This is cruising close to an ideal density, but still a little ways off from being an actual “retina” type display.
Offering a passable contrast performance, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ has a black level of 0.6cd/m2 , and a peak brightness of 481.03dcd/m2 , giving the tablet a fairly wide contrast ratio of 802:1. This is important, as the wider the contrast ratio is, the more values along the greyscale you can see well, and the more detail will be evident in different lighting in your image.
While this ratio isn’t bad, per se, it also means that cinephiles out there will probably not like the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ for movies. But then again, very few tablets do well in this category. What actually makes the Nook HD+ net a poor score here is what’s called greyscale gamma, or how evenly and dramatically the screen transitions from greyscale value to value. If we were to plot each value on a graph, we’d ideally expect to see a line with a slope of 2.1, but that of the Nook HD+ was 2.3, meaning the transition of the values is a bit more dramatic than you’d expect.
Another poor result, we’d normally like to see a color gamut (the range of colors the screen can produce) conform to the internationally agreed-upon range of colors that a screen should produce: the rec. 709 standard. Unfortunately, the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ not only undersaturates reds and greens, but wildly shifts the deepest blues to a more cyan-ish color.
Overall, the battery life of the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ is fairly average, but with the lack of bluetooth, apps, and other more power-intensive options, the variance in battery life will depend mostly on how high or low you set your backlight. With it cranked to the max in our labs, we were able to coax out 5 hours and 43 minutes of reading an eBook, and 6 hours and 10 minutes watching a horrible video file.
Overall, this is a fair enough battery result that would make the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ a serviceable option watching videos or reading eBooks on a short flight or commute, but it’s not exactly where it needs to be in order to work well for a long, intercontinental flight. However, our lab results aren’t necessarily what you’ll get with a Barnes & Noble Nook HD+, as doing things like turning down the backlight or running more apps will extend or shorten the battery life of the tablet.
There aren't any physical controls outside of a volume rocker and power button, so you'll be using the capacitive touch screen to control most of your tablet's functions. Most of the tablet's functions are rather straightforward, and it even keeps some of the universal controls from Android, but overall the tablet's interface is clunky and inconsistent. Given that there isn't much that can be done with the as a tablet, this may or may not frustrate you if you're using it primarily as an eReader or Netflix device.
Unlike the top flight tablets on the market, the doesn't have all the fancy bluetooth options, or IR blasters. However, their proprietary connector is HDMI and USB compatible if you go out any buy the correct cables, but that's still kind of a pain. Given that the software support isn't exactly where it needs to be with this tablet, you're probably not going to get this working well. Like all tablets, it can connect to the internet via its onboard 802.11n wireless card.
Overall, the battery life of the is fairly average, but with the lack of bluetooth, apps, and other more power-intensive options, the variance in battery life will depend mostly on how high or low you set your backlight. With it cranked to the max in our labs, we were able to coax out 5 hours and 43 minutes of reading an eBook, and 6 hours and 10 minutes watching a horrible video file.
Overall, this is a fair enough battery result that would make the a serviceable option watching videos or reading eBooks on a short flight or commute, but it's not exactly where it needs to be in order to work well for a long, intercontinental flight. However, our lab results aren't necessarily what you'll get with a , as doing things like turning down the backlight or running more apps will extend or shorten the battery life of the tablet.
If you're a big reader, you'll be happy to hear that reading eBooks on the is a cinch, as the controls mimic what you'd be doing on a paperback anyway. While holding the tablet with one hand, tapping the side of the screen or swiping it like you would turn a page will advance or retreat your position in your title. Tapping the top of the screen will call out a menu that allows you more control over your text, such as changing font size, type, and color.
While you're pretty much limited to porting over your existing library of eBooks or buying from the Nook store, buying books is relatively easy. Once you've registered your device and linked your credit card information to your account, all you'll have to do once you find a title you like in the store is tap "buy." It's that easy: after your payment clears your download will begin and end within seconds, file size depending.
As far as eBook formats go, the can surprisingly handle quite the array of file types, assuming you don't have any files from competitor eBook stores to transfer over. According to the Barnes and Noble website, you should be able to transfer files of PDF, ePUB, DRP, FOLIO, OFIP, CBZ, TXT, RTF, XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, PPSX, DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, CSV, EML, and even ZIP files. Should your eBooks not appear on that list, you'll have to convert your files using a free or paid utility.
Periodicals work on the exactly like the books do: they are found in the same store, purchased in the same way, and controlled with the very same gestures. Simply locate the section of the store entitled "Newspapers" and away you go.
If you've loaded any audio files onto your , opening them via the library function will lead you to a rather basic-looking interface. Like most basic tablet audio interfaces, there's a scrub bar, a play/pause icon, track forward/backward icons, shuffle tracks, and repeat function.
As the 's operating system is based on the structure that is Android, music would probably be best stored in the "music" folder once you hook it up to your computer so the tablet can find it easy. There's no penalty for putting it in another folder, but file management doesn't happen automatically like it would in iTunes, so just keep that in mind.
If you load some MP4 video files, you'll see that the control scheme is very much similar to that of most Android tablets. There's a scrub bar, volume slider, and play/pause icon that appears with a touch on the screen, and disappears after a second or so of inactivity so you can watch your movie without getting pestered by an overlay.
If you're going to put video files on your , you're probably going to want to dump them in the "movies" folder on your after hooking it into the computer to avoid confusing the tablet when you're looking for them in your library. At any rate, the file management system is straightforward if you have a PC, but if you have a Mac, you'll need to use the Android File Transfer utility.
For those of you hoping to use the as a platform to watch your totally legally acquired video files, you may be out of luck, as the only supports MP4, 3GP, and WEBM file formats. That's it. Beyond those formats, there is nothing you can do to add file support without a hacky fix, as the app market for the Nook devices is not only anemic, but far from where it needs to be in order to add codecs or alternate video players.
Much like the streaming audio, the streaming video is also lacking in options. Despite the obvious lack of flash support killing any possibility of using the Amazon video service in app form or the browser, Netflix has an app that works well enough, and should satisfy those who don't care for other streaming services like YouTube.
Despite the existence of an email app that will allow you to link your POP/IMAP/Exchange inboxes with the tablet, there is no GMail app, and any users of the ubiquitous email client will have to use the browser in order to access it. It really is a pain, especially as it's one of the more popular formats out there. Despite all that, the aforementioned app will allow you to read, compose, and forward email, though we had spotty success with attaching files in the office, your mileage may vary.
Included in the software on the is a very straightforward and uncomplicated web browser that allows users to browse the web with few annoyances. You can even set the URL bar with all the basic controls to disappear after a fashion if you hate it, but it's nice to know it's there. The doesn't throw anything advanced or confusing at you, so novice surfers should be okay with this one.
If you bought this tablet looking to be able to keep up with the latest apps, boy have we got bad news for you: you'll probably never see them. So entrenched in the Nook ecosystem is the , it has its own app market that is just abysmally terrible with what apps it keeps for its tablet, and for those of you who like new apps, this is very, very bad.
For those of you who can make do without a wealth of games and third-party applications, the has most of the basic needs covered for a tablet, but what the lack of apps also means is a lack of ways to make the tablet's shortcomings go away. For example, the utterly abysmal video file support isn't going to go away until the Nook app market allows an app to fix the situation. If you run across something you don't like with a tablet, usually you can find alternatives or fix it, but not so with the . What you see is what you get.
In a tablet world where content exists across all platforms, and there are high-end tablets coming out at a more affordable price, there's very little reason to pay too much for a unit that offers you so much less for only a couple dollars cheaper. It would be one thing if there was a concrete advantage to buying the over an iPad mini or Nexus device, but there really isn't.
Not only can the other top-flight tablets do everything the can do, but they can also do much more for a comparable price point. Maybe that's why Barnes & Noble added a microSD card slot and the ability to easily hack the device? Who knows?
With comparably poor performance across the board at a similar price point to its main competitors, there is very little reason to buy the if you're not looking for a project, and still want access to the wealth of media available to iPad or Android tablet owners. While it might work in a pinch for a crowd that wants an uncomplicated tablet, you may or may not want to wait for a sale to grab this one.
Meet the tester
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.
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