No camera in latest Nook tablets puts focus on content consumption
To edit documents, Nook users will need to buy added Office Suite Pro software
Computerworld - Tablets seem to be heading in two directions: There are those primarily designed for consumption of books, movies and other content, and those intended for content creation as well as consumption.
That distinction is not always clear in the market, but the two new Nook tablets that Barnes & Noble announced on Wednesday seem to fall into the first category: The 7-in. Nook HD and the the 9-in. Nook HD+ have more processing power and better display resolution than their predecessors -- features that enhance the reading and video-viewing experiences. The Nook HD costs $199, and the Nook HD+ goes for $269.
And highlighting the fact that the new tablets seem to be designed with viewing in mind, neither device has a camera, so they can't be used for taking photos or videos, or for engaging in video chats, as many tablets are.
The new Nooks also don't come packaged with more than an Android OfficeSuite viewer, meaning users can open and view documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDFs but they can't easily edit, print or share those files.
A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman confirmed in an email to Computerworld that to get the ability to edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations, a customer would need to purchase the OfficeSuite Professional app from the Barnes & Noble app store. Currently, OfficeSuite Pro costs $14.99 in BN's app store.
That added software cost might not discourage a user who's initially interested in a low-cost device, such as the $199 Nook HD, and later on decides he wants to edit documents. The lack of a camera might be another matter, however.
Bill Saperstein, vice president of digital products hardware engineering for Barnes & Noble, said the company could have included cameras in its new tablets, but it decided instead to focus on processing power and other factors since it was "not trying to be all things to all people."
Behind his comment is the reality that adding more functions can significantly increase the cost of a tablet. When it announced its new Nooks, Barnes & Noble noted that a new 9.7-in. iPad supports a wide range of functions but starts at $499, whereas the 9-in. Nook HD+, starts at $269.
On the other hand, the low-cost Google Nexus 7 tablet, starting at $199, comes with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, although its display resolution is just 1280 x 800 (216 pixels per inch) whereas the Nook HD's display is 1440 x 900 (243 pixels per inch).
Amazon's 7-in. Kindle Fire HD tablet also has a starting price of $199, but it has double the storage capacity -- 16GB -- of both the lowest-cost Nook HD or the Nexus 7, which both have 8GB. The Kindle Fire HD also has a front-facing camera, but its display matches the Nexus 7's, which is less than the Nook HD's display.
Barnes & Noble did make some potential content-creating customers happy by working with Microsoft, its recent investment partner, to add support in a new Nook email client for Microsoft Exchange atop of Gmail and other popular email services. Barnes & Noble officials said the partnership with Microsoft could involve more collaboration in the future.
Barnes & Noble might be leaving behind customers who want tablets with cameras and document-editing capabilities. Or the company might have decided that it's more profitable to specialize and offer premium viewing from a 7-in. tablet. Tuesday's Nook Video announcement could hint at Barnes & Noble's intent, but it won't be clear until it's known how much a video or a TV show might cost, since Nook Video won't be a subscription service like Amazon's.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- IDC drops tablet sales forecast, sees phablets encroaching on the market
- Samsung to offer 3 new tablets starting Feb. 13
- Tablets remain tops in American gift-buying plans
- 'Phablets' are eating into the tablet market, IDC says
- Apple springs Retina iPad Mini on customers
- The puzzling Lumia 2520 tablet: Will it disappear when Microsoft buys Nokia?
- Dell launches four new tablets -- all on Intel chips
- Few use tablets to replace laptops
- New Kindle Fire HDX's tech support button could push IT to yell 'Mayday!'
- Kindle Fire HDX tablets show big push for business users
Read more about Tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- The Truth About Virtual Computing for CAD If you're a user of graphics-intensive software such as 3D modeling, simulation and analysis, and visualization, you might be skeptical about moving to...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Simplifying Product Design In A Complex World Product design engineering has moved far beyond the confines of ever-more powerful workstations. Companies can't afford to restrict projects to using only local...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer... All Tablets White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!