Barnes & Noble fires back at Amazon with Nook HD and HD+

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Hot on the heels of Amazon’s Kindle Fire refresh, Barnes & Noble has announced it is rolling out two new versions of its Nook tablet ahead of the holiday season: the Nook HD and HD+. The tablets are currently available for pre-order at $199 and $269, respectively, and should reach US customers’ hands by November 1.

Both tablets share a number of features such as a microSD card slot to add up to 32GB of extra storage, a micro USB port for charging and connecting the tablet to a PC, 1GB of RAM, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and 9 to 10 hours of battery life. There’s also an optional HDMI dongle for either model to output the device’s screen to a TV.

The differences basically boil down to display size, storage and processing power. The Nook HD features a dual-core 1.3GHz OMAP 4470 from Texas Instruments under the hood and either 8GB ($199) or 16GB ($229) of storage. Its 7-inch, 1440 x 900 resolution display offers a 243 PPI density that’s almost as good as the iPad’s 264 PPI, and better than the 216 PPI in the 1280 x 800 Nexus 7 and 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.

Meanwhile, the Nook HD+ looks set to take on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and Apple iPad with a 9-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 resolution display boasting a 256 pixel per inch density. It is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz OMAP 4470 processor, weighs 515 grams, and starts at $269 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB.

Both tablets will run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and feature Barnes & Noble's own version of the Android web browser. Also, taking a jab at Amazon, the company made a point of noting that neither model will come with "annoying ads." Amazon requires customers to pay $15 to lose the ads in the new Kindle Fires.

As far as content goes, the bookseller recently signed licensing deals with four major studios that will allow users to stream movies and TV shows to their tablets using the new Nook Video service. The content will be available as rentals or downloads and stored in the Nook Cloud, introduced a couple months ago.

The service will complement Barnes & Noble’s existing digital book store and will even let users integrate their UltraViolet DVD and Blu-ray collection, so they’ll have access to previously purchased content.

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