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Barnes & Noble punches back

Slashdot accuses the new Nook HD and HD+ of punching above their weight.

Now, granted, B&N has an uphill fight. But to me, there are several compelling things about these new devices. Maybe these devices don’t have what that particular contributor seeks, but to date, there’s still no one-size-fits-all tablet.

To me, these new B&N devices have four things going for them.

Resolution: The 9-inch model has 256 PPI. That’s a shade below Apple, but still impressive to someone who came of age with dot-matrix printers that printed at a maximum resolution of 144 dots per inch and thought it looked good enough to be worth the (long) wait most of the time. Did I mention that 144 DPI print was black and white only? But it was half as good as a laser printer!

Now, I can get an LCD screen with resolution just slightly lower than the 300 DPI that used to be standard for laser printers. I remember reading an interview with a tech visionary in one of the first issues of Compute after ABC sold it to General Media. He predicted digital magazines, and cited resolution and connection speed as the two technological barriers that would have to be overcome. He didn’t get all of the specifics right, but now, 22 years later, we’re there.

HDMI output: If I buy a tablet, I want to be able to use it as a media player. It’s a $40 option with this tablet, but at least it’s an option. I don’t see the point of streaming video without being able to connect it to a television. For some reason, a lot of tablet makers don’t seem to agree with me.

Expandability: This is the first sub-$200 tablet I’ve found that has a microSDHC slot. You can buy the cheapest version and swap in cheap 32 GB cards to your heart’s content. If and when 32 GB isn’t enough, just drop all your music on one card, kids’ movies on another card, other movies on still another card, and so on.

Price: The 9-inch HD+ sells for $269 and the 7-inch HD sells for $199. The pricing on the 7-inch isn’t earth-shattering–there are lots of tablets in its price range with a slightly different set of compromises. But I think the 9-inch will be a hot seller, seeing as it sells for considerably less than comparable tablets.

While I’d like to see more cores, a higher clock speed, and a more open build of Android, any other tablet I’ve found that offers those things lacks one or more of the other features. This device will let me do the major things I want from a tablet.

These tablets aren’t for everyone, but then again, neither is any other tablet I’ve seen. Will I buy one? No guarantees. I’ve been looking at a lot of different hardware. The strange thing is, there are a number of sub-$99 tablets that offer a video output and a memory card slot and a recent build of Android, along with a ho-hum screen and a single-core CPU running at 800 MHz or 1 GHz. Then there’s the flood of 7-inch tablets in the $150-$250 range that all seem to lack one thing that matters to me. But even if I step into the 10-inch tablets that cost $300 and up, they all seem to lack one thing that matters to me too.

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