Barnes & Noble unveils Kindle Fire rival, the Nook Tablet

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Barnes & Noble today revealed the successor to its Nook Color e-reader as it readies to against book-selling rival Amazon for your holiday dollars. The $250 Nook Tablet isn't a completely new product but rather an update with improved specs as well as a thinner and lighter profile. It has a 7-inch (1024x600) IPS display and 16GB of internal storage, upgradeable via microSD, coupled with 1GB of RAM and a new 1GHz TI OMAP4 dual-core processor.

Like its predecessor, the Nook Tablet uses a custom UI built on top of Android 2.3 that's optimized for several specific functions -- like reading, of course, but also email, web browsing and videos. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said the tablet will come with Hulu Plus and Netflix video services pre-loaded as well as streaming music solution Pandora, while also offering access to thousands of other applications available on the Nook's curated app store.

Barnes and Noble will also offer a free cloud service with the Nook Tablet, which will store your purchases and downloads, and will provide customers with free Wi-Fi at all its stores through AT&T.

The Nook Tablet doesn't include 3G connectivity or front and back cameras like more expensive tablets, but that's a sacrifice many might be willing to make at $250. In terms of battery life, the company is promising approximately 11.5 hours in e-reader mode and about nine hours dedicated to video viewing.

Needless to say, Barnes & Noble is positioning this device against Amazon's Kindle Fire. The latter costs $50 less but offers half the RAM and half storage capacity with no option to expand. B&N also claims their Nook Tablet has a superior screen and is lighter to carry. It should be available next week at Barnes and Nobles stores, along with select retail partners. The Nook Color and Nook Simple Touch each received $50 price cuts, now costing $200 and $100.

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