Barnes & Noble has partnered with Samsung in order to have a branded tablet without having to produce it themselves. Here's our coverage of the announcement and all the tech specs. While a few Nook lovers may miss that weird triangle cutout on the lower corner of the old device, this Nook-branded version of the 7” Galaxy Tab 4 tablet is an overall improvement over the previous Nook tablets. The device is a fully-functioning android tablet with some extra Nook software, and it retails at a nice price point.
The obvious competitor for this device is the iPad mini. While the Tab 4 Nook is more book-like in shape--it's about the width of a paperback, whereas the iPad mini is a couple of centimeters wider--the Tab 4 Nook feels heavier than the iPad. The Galazy Tab 4's weight feels a little awkward, but that may be because I'm used to the feel of the iPad mini, which I take with me everywhere I go, and use to read.
General interest readers looking for a curated reading and shopping experience will probably like this device. One thing Barnes & Noble is doing, that other e-book retailers are not, is leveraging its long history as a bookseller to import a little bit of the bookstore experience into the tablet. There's a Nook Today app that pulls up recommendations, based on the user's recent library activity; this feature makes you feel--sort of--like the device is awake, and aware of your interests.
Of course, the downside to this awareness is that, as with Amazon's tablets, shopping is front and center with this device. Beneath the Nook Library pane that shows a carousel of your purchased items, is a little pane that advertises magazines, books, and other media you can buy. Some of that is customizable, but, still, one is highly aware that the devices architects want you to spend more money.
Nonetheless, for those already hooked into the Nook ecosystem, who are looking to upgrade to a full-featured multi-purpose tablet, this is a great deal at under $200. Given that price tag, the bells and whistles--a current version of Android, two cameras, a split-able screen, and a nice handheld size--are that much better. That said, if you don't want to feel like you're carrying around a store, the regular, non-Nook Tab 4 offers all the same stuff without the dedicated Nook apps, though you can download the Android Nook reader.