The Nook Tablet's design element: A faux carabiner clip

iFixit pokes fun at tablet design that's not intended for rock climbing

The $249 Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble costs $50 more than the Amazon Kindle Fire and has about double the storage and memory. But there's also something else about the Nook that caught the eye of teardown experts at iFixit: A metal loop at the lower left corner of the metal cover.

Nook Tablet
The metal loop at the bottom left of the Nook Tablet, looks like a carabiner clip, the metal clip frequently found on backpacks.

It is the Nook's "carabiner clip," iFixit said, noting that this design feature is "not [an official] spec, but come on ... it's a carabiner clip."

The tablet's metallic loop has similarities to the rugged metal clips that were designed for use in rock climbing but are now seen on backpacks everywhere. Barnes & Noble didn't draw attention to the feature when the Nook Tablet was released last week.

The Nook Tablet's microSD slot, for added storage capacity, is located under a magnetic cover next to the loop. That location, iFixit quipped, "could make changing your SD card while rock climbing a bit difficult if you're using the Nook as a tie point."

The iFixit commentary, while tongue in cheek, does raise questions about why the Nook needs the loop. When asked whether Barnes & Noble expects customers to attach keys or other gadgets to the loop, a Barnes & Noble store representative said no. The loop is intended as an indicator of the SD card slot location, and it will protect the magnetic cover inside the loop when opened, the rep said.

IFixit made a number of other observations about the Nook in its teardown report, noting that while it has 16GB of internal storage, double that of the Kindle Fire, only 12GB of that 16GB total is usable for content such as books and movies, and just 1GB of that can come from outside the B&N app store. "If you want to put your own content on your Nook, you'll have to use a microSD card" of up to 32GB, iFixit said.

The teardown also found the Nook Tablet had a 3.7-volt, 4000mAh battery that's advertised as providing 11.5 hours of reading time, more than the Kindle Fire's eight hours.

Both the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire have Texas Instruments OMAP 4 1GHz dual-core processors. Both also have 7-in. displays made by LG with resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels.

IFixit said it found a major chip difference between the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire: The Nook has a capacitive touch panel controller chip from Focal Tech, while the Kindle has no such feature.

The iFixit pros also took apart the Kindle Fire last week. While iFixit focused on hardware in both new tablets, many reviewers and analysts have said that the Kindle's main advantage over the Nook is that it gives users access to Amazon's well-known content ecosystem for buying games, books, apps and movies.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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