For those in the US (or anyone who shops online, really) you can pickup one of the least expensive HD tablets currently available, now with access to Google Play. We’re talking about the Nook HD and Nook HD+, two Android tablets with the OS hidden deep under Nook’s proprietary UI. The Google Play store is now part and parcel of the US$199 Nook HD experience and for that price, you’re getting a smashing 7-inch Android tablet that may even be seen as competition for the Nexus 7. Maybe.
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The Nook HD and HD+ are, from our short time spent in their presence, two very fast and stable tablets that now have access to well over 700 000 apps on Google Play. This isn’t the only tasty software biscuit now appearing on Nook’s. Barnes & Noble, the US bookstore mega-chain which stocks the Nook, has also included YouTube, Chrome, Gmail and Google Maps. As far as we’re concerned, that’s all the average person needs for an all-round superlative tablet experience. YouTube for video, Chrome for browsing, Gmail for mail, and Google Maps because that obscure Burger King isn’t going to find itself at 2AM. Mail options have been widened, with support for Gmail native mails, Yahoo!, Hotmail, or Microsoft Exchange. It’s a one-two sucker punch of tablet goodness.
One more thing: content. While the Nook HD and HD+ were already exceptionally capable media players, the amount of music and video on Google Play (especially the US store) is overwhelming. Google Play, for instance, lets us store up to 20 000 songs in the almighty cloud. This, plus B&N’s already extensive content equates to a media explosion. Throw YouTube into the mix and you have access to practically every piece of content ever made, minus that lost videotape of Steve Jobs admitting that he loves Windows 95.
Heres the bad news. While the Nook HD and HD+ now have the love of Google Play, Google Now won’t be making an appearance. Google Now is the scarily predictive search engine/voice assistant that beats Siri on all fronts. Outside of this we’ve got a new Android tablet on the market now, all of a sudden, and it’s a fantastic piece of affordable tech to boot. It screams buy me.