Nov. 7, 2011 at 10:22 AM ET
Today at a press event in New York, Barnes & Noble confirmed that the follow-up to the Nook Color would be the Nook Tablet. If that sounds familiar, it's because this news was leaked last week. Here are the salient details, which we're covering via a live video stream:
It really does look exactly like the Nook Color — same size, with 7-inch screen. But the screen is supposed to be better than the one on Amazon's Kindle Fire. And the Nook Tablet is lighter in weight and has a faster processor than its predecessor: a 1GHz chip with 1GB of RAM. It will have 16GB of memory plus an SD slot for an extra 32GB.
Pre-ordering begins now, and the device will ship Nov. 18. It will be sold at "leading retailers" this holiday season.
Barnes & Noble's CEO William Lynch calls the upcoming Kindle Fire "deficient," saying it has too little storage, less RAM and a cheaper screen. Lynch goes so far as to say that his product, which costs $50 more, is a "much better value than the Kindle Fire."
The Nook Cloud service will be available to backup content and share some data, which Barnes & Noble says will be secure (taking a dig at Amazon). However, they're not particularly clear on what the Nook Cloud service can do, at this point, so we'll have to follow up.
Netflix and Hulu Plus are included, and there's support for 1080p video. The screen itself is not 1080p, but they stream Netflix in 720p. Despite the richer media, there's nine hours of video plus 11.5 hours of reading time.
B&N will have more than 250 interactive magazines, including titles from Conde Nast, Time Inc and Meredith. There will be a huge collection of comics as well (apparently the most Marvel titles on any tablet), and there's a redesigned reading app to improve the old black-and-white text experience. And while the Nook Color was already pitching colorful children's books as a selling point, the Nook Tablet has a built-in microphone so that you can record your own voice to kid content.
Barnes & Noble pledges free support at their local stores, with Nook Digital Store kiosks in most stores that have 2,000 square feet or more.
The Nook Color, which drops to $199, will get a free update with 100 new features, including many of the ones found in the Tablet.
The Nook Simple Touch e-ink reader will get a new display that makes it 25 percent faster than any other similar reader. Existing customers will get the update to speed up page turns too. (The update will come over Wi-Fi in the background in the coming weeks — users don't do anything.)
Starting today, the Simple Touch will now sell for $99 — without "distracting ads." That's another dig at Amazon, which has lowered the price of its e-ink devices by using promotions.
More on Nook and its rivals: