Nook tablet launches a day ahead of schedule

The Nook tablet is here. But how does the Nook hold up against the new Kindle Fire? 

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    The Nook Tablet launches this week.
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The Nook Tablet, the latest gadget from Barnes and Noble, was expected to arrive on Friday. But according to a Barnes and Noble spokesperson, who spoke to CNET, the Nook Tablet will hit shelves a couple days early. If you pre-ordered a Nook Tablet, you can pick up the device today at a Barnes and Noble store; if you scheduled home delivery, your new Nook will likely hit your doorstep by this afternoon. 

The Nook Tablet has received generally favorably reviews from tech critics, who have praised the low price, the "beefed-up horsepower," the e-reading capability, and the sleek design. 

"There’s little doubt that the Nook Tablet is the best looking 7-inch slate on the market," note the team at Laptop magazine. "Sitting next to the Nook Tablet, the otherwise-attractive Kindle Fire looks like a chunky hunk of glossy plastic. Its thin pewter-colored frame, black-edged screen, rounded edges, and soft-touch rubberized back give the device a luxurious look and feel." 

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The Nook Tablet, of course, hits the market at almost exactly the same time as the Kindle Fire, the first tablet computer from Amazon. The Kindle Fire, like the Kindle e-readers before it, is basically a delivery device for Amazon stuff – in the words of one critic, it is "perhaps the best, tightest integration of digital content acquisition into a mobile device that we've yet seen." Sales are expected to be blockbuster. 

In fact, according to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, Amazon could unload five million Amazon Kindle Fire tablets before the end of 2011. 

So how does the Nook tablet compare to the Fire? "I wouldn't elevate the Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet to knockout status just yet, but they are solid and appealing," Edward Baig writes in a head-to-head test over at USA Today. "I'd give a split decision to Amazon because of a lower price and all its content. But by taking the fight to Apple, and each other, Barnes & Noble and Amazon have produced an ultimate winner, the consumer."

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