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Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet teardown: Upgraded, improved Nook Color

The Nook Tablet is nearly identical to the Nook Color, both inside and out. This Android tablet also shares hardware with its chief rival--the Kindle Fire.

One year after launching the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble is hoping to take the device from e-book reader to full-blown tablet. The 2011 Nook Tablet has a 1 GHz dual-core TI OMAP4 processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 7-inch touchscreen display, and 16GB of storage. It runs a heavily-customized version of Android 2.3. As of this writing, the Nook Tablet costs $249 (US).

Like the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet is a no-frills tablet. It's designed for reading e-books from the Nook Book store, streaming videos through Netflix or Hulu, running apps from the Nook Apps store, and browsing the Web. The Nook is larger than the Fire but weighs slightly less. It also has a slight advantage over the Fire when it comes to hardware, which helps explain the Nook's higher price.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Cracking Open analysis

  • Relatively easy to crack open and dissemble: Despite a pair of external screws hidden near the microSD card slot, the Nook Tablet's back cover is easily removed. And, you'll only need a single screwdriver as Amazon used Torx T5 screws throughout the device.
  • Nearly identical to the Nook Color: Barnes & Noble could have dubbed this new device the Nook Color 2. The back cover, metal frame, motherboard, and display assembly are the same size and shape on both devices. Their construction is similar. And, if that wasn't enough, they use the exact same battery.
  • Shares hardware with Kindle Fire: Not only is the Nook Tablet a near clone of the earlier Nook, it shares many components with its chief rival--the Fire. Both have a 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor, both have 7-inch displays with resolutions of 1024 by 600 at 169 ppi, both support Wi-Fi (but not Bluetooth), and both use the same audio codec.
  • Better specs, higher price: Despite its many similarities to the Fire, the Nook has twice as much RAM, more internal storage, a microSD card slot, and a microphone. And no doubt, these better specs contribute to the Nook costing a little more.

Internal hardware

Our Nook Tablet had the following hardware components:

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

4 comments
BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Give him a bunch of boxes and have him make computers.A different one each time.

pat.zak
pat.zak

The Nook products are the most hackable around. But as a hacker/maker I doubt that we represent more than 1/2 % of the reader/tablet market. I think that the deal breaker/maker with the Kindle is the $79/yr Prime fee. I do not think that the "one free book" per month will contain the top titles. Having a Prime account already this will not be an additional expense for me. I recommend the Kindle tablet plus Prime to the reader/browser/e-mail/video/music crowd and the Nook tablet for the limited market that needs more power/non-vendor apps/side loading/customization. I love my Nook Color Gen 1 as an ereader/browser and will upgrade it to the 1.4 software. I will purchase a Kindle tablet over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period from whomever offers the best swag.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

As our Nook Tablet teardown shows, the Nook and Kindle Fire share several hardware components. The Nook does have twice as much RAM and twice as much storage, but beyond that their incredibly similar devices. And while the Nook costs $50 more, I doubt that's enough of a difference to push consumers away from the Nook. Rather than hardware or price, I believe most people will pick the Nook or Fire based on the device's ecosystem. Regular Amazon shoppers, who already buy books, music, and everything else from the online retail giant, are more inclined to stick with the Fire. Barnes & Noble fans, who frequent the retailers physical stores and already have a library of Nook content, may be more likely to stick with the Nook. What do you think? Which tablet has the better ecosystem--the Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire?

peter.burdine
peter.burdine

It took me all of 10 minutes after opening the box to root the Nook tablet and load the Kindle app on it. Now I have one "e-reader" that I can use to read everything, library books (.epub which the kindles don't support), ebooks from BN or ebooks from Amazon. This setup allows you get all the same books (but probably not movies) that your prime account would give you access to. One of the things I disliked about the Nook tablet was that you only get access to the BN app store out of the box. Many of the free applications you can find on the google market for free are $3+ on the the BN store. Of course rooting fixes that too.