Barnes and Noble strikes back against Amazon with the Nook HD and Nook HD+, two very affordable devices designed by B&N to provide what the company considers to be the “optimum experience” for their customers – that’s how the new Nook HD and Nook HD+ were born. In terms of overall user experience, it is clear that those Nook devices have been built for a more focused purpose in mind than generic tablets like the Nexus 7 and the iPad. Both are considered to be “family” devices, which means that they have built-in multi-user management, and strong parental controls, something which is typically poorly supported by most “personal” tablets.

In terms of specifications, both Nook HD and Nook HD+ devices specifications are competitive with the new Kindle tablets, except that both are noticeably lighter. The weight difference with the Kindle HD is already noticeable, but the weight difference with the iPad 2 is very obvious. Both are definitely one-handed devices – for everybody.

Of course, B&N provides a very good reading experience and has nothing less than its competitors. What I found more interesting were things like the parental controls, or the catalogs that I had never seen elsewhere: users can browse the catalogs that they know and like, except that digital catalogs don’t hang around in the house. It’s also possible to purchase directly from the device for customers who want to. They look best on the Nook HD+’s 1080p display.

B&N has also redesigned the store to look sleeker. The new user interface is nice, clean and more consistent. I haven’t used it long enough to tell you how the user experience is in the real world, but the changes do look compelling.

As usual, keep in mind that Nook goes beyond the B&N services go beyond their own hardware. You can use your B&N account and purchase with iOS and Android apps, and more platforms are likely to be supported in the future. If you are a B&N customer or someone who just wants to read and possibly watch movies, this is something that you might want to check out in a store.

Power users will probably use a more generic tablet, but those seeking for a no-nonsense e-reader on steroid should keep an eye on this. Stay tuned for the full review on Ubergizmo.

Specifications highlight

Nook HD ($199 8GB)
7″ display (1440×900) 243ppi
11oz, 315g
16GB or 32GB or internal storage
Dual-core 1.3GHz TI OMAP 4470
9 hours of video playback
Micro SD slot (64GB max)
4050mAh battery

Nook HD+ ($269 16GB)
1080p (1920×1080) display, 256ppi
18.2oz, 515g
16GB or 32GB or internal storage
Dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470
9 hours of video playback
Micro SD slot (64GB max)
6000mAh battery

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