Barnes & Noble: on the offensive with a $199 Nook Tablet

The price and specifications of the new Nook Tablet put it in direct competition with Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet device.

Jim Sulley/HOEP/Barnes & Noble/AP
The first Nook Tablet has 16 GB of memory, while the newer model will have only 8 GB, which could affect the tablet's performance.

The tablet wars are heating up again. This time Barnes & Noble is on the offensive. Its ammo? A $199 Nook Tablet.

Barnes & Noble announced today it is offering a new 8 GB Nook Tablet at a price point and specifications that put it in direct competition with the Kindle Fire. So far, Apple’s iPad has been the market leader in tablets, but the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook are proving to be popular lower-priced alternatives.

Barnes & Noble’s older Nook Tablet has 16 GB of memory and sells for $249. With 8 GB, the new one has half the storage and also halves the RAM from one gigabyte to 512 megabytes – the same specs as the Kindle Fire. While most people won’t miss the lost storage, the slashed RAM will affect the “otherwise snappy performance found in the $249 Nook Tablet,” reports Time Magazine’s Techland blog.

The newest Nook still has a 7-inch color touchscreen, access to Nook Cloud service, and a microSD slot if you want to expand its storage.

Barnes & Noble also announced it is dropping the price on the Nook Color e-reader from $199 to $169.

As outlined in a New York Times article discussed here earlier this year, Barnes & Noble is struggling to stay in the book business by relying on the success of its e-readers and tablets. Its traditional books business is saturated and the bricks-and-mortar retailer is looking to tablets to avoid a Borders-like demise at the hands of the mega-online retailer Amazon.

In its quarterly earnings, released Tuesday, Barnes & Noble said it saw sales rise 5 percent to $2.44 billion, but profits fell 14 percent to $52 million, from a year ago. The biggest surge was in online sales, driven by sales of Nook e-readers and tablets.

The Nook Tablet and Nook Color are available on Barnes & Noble’s website Tuesday and will be available at retailers in the coming weeks, reports CNET.

Still can’t decide between a Nook Tablet and a Kindle Fire? “[T]he short version is that the Kindle Fire is good for apps, music, TV and movies (especially those purchased through Amazon), while the Nook Tablet provides a better overall reading experience – especially for interactive children’s books and magazines,” writes Time’s Techland.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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