A while ago I was sent a NOOK HD+ to review. I'll admit that I was both sceptical and intrigued as to whether I'd like it; I am a big fan of my Android phone and our family iPad, and I wasn't sure that a tablet which is essentially an e-reader with additional capabilities would have a place in our lives.
However it doesn't have a place in our lives, because it is quite firmly mine.
Mean? No. The Boy has access to the iPad, his Kurio, his Innotab and on occasion our phones. My husband has his iPhone and a Kindle. I could create up to six profiles on it (parental controls are inbuilt), but I'm not going to. This is mine. All mine. And I love it.
The NOOK HD+ looks very similar to many other tablets on the market but with a matt black, non-slip casing and surround, and a lowercase 'n' as the home button. The obvious comparison to make is with an iPad, and the buttons to control the volume or power on/off are in directly opposite positions to the iPad, which can be confusing at times. The NOOK HD+ also has a small hole and hand grip in the bottom left hand corner which combined with the light weight, and the slightly smaller dimensions than the iPad, it makes it easier to hold one handed therefore aiding reading.
The operating system is based on Android OS and I really like the way that the interface has been adapted. In the past I haven't been a huge fan of Android tablets as I've found the interface not as user friendly as the iPad, but the NOOK's display is very simple and cleverly organised.
There's a ribbon of apps to scroll through at the top of the home screen, the selection can be edited to suit the user. There are also shortcut buttons at the bottom of the main screen; library, apps, web, email or shop. The library is particularly well organised and sub-divided into; Books, Magazines, Films & TV, Apps, Children, Newspapers, My Shelves, My Scrapbooks, and My Files.
Whenever a new mobile device enters my hands I install certain apps on it first of all: twitter, Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Candy Crush, and the all important Instagram and photo editing apps. And this is where my only problem lies with the NOOK HD+. Because it is essentially a more sophisticated e-reader tablet, and therefore there's no camera. And logically because of this you wouldn't need to download a photo sharing app, would you? This I found frustrating as my photos automatically upload to Dropbox so I could use still use Instagram after downloading them, plus I like to network on there. But it's not the end of the world, just a minor inconvenience and it actually means that I use the NOOK for different things than my phone or the tablet.
Magazines, books and newspapers are the biggest feature pushed on the NOOK, which makes sense for an e-reader. In the Summer of 2013, Barnes & Noble were very wise and added the Google Playstore to the OS which meant that the Kindle app could be downloaded and previous books purchased (and used on other devices) could be accessed. Prior to this e-book downloads had been quite costly. Despite all the other capabilities of the NOOK, I feel that for me its selling point is the magazine subscriptions and book reading functions. I don't tend to use the Kindle app on my phone (too small) or the iPad (too heavy) but have read several books on the NOOK as it has a different 'feel' to it, and I don't just mean physically.
As mentioned, my other favourite aspect of the NOOK is the magazine subscription facility. I don't buy magazines in 'real life' as I don't like the clutter around the house (there's too much anyway!), I end up with ripped out pages stuffed onto the kitchen shelf which never get looked at again, and it's not very eco-friendly. I now have subscribed to several cookery magazines on the NOOK, which are stored in the library. Additionally there is a very nifty little 'scrapbooking' feature which enables the user to virtually 'rip' out a page and save it in a scrapbook or category.
I've got fifteen scrapbooks on my NOOK HD+ which enable me to easily access recipes under different categories, so much more efficient than one hundred pieces of faded paper shoved into a cookery book in the kitchen!
The screen is very high quality, almost as good as the iPad3 to compare visually (the NOOK HD+'s 9" display is 1920×1280 pixels with 256 PPI, the 9.7" iPad3 display i 2048×1536 with 264 PPI), the difference in PPI (pixels per inch) is minimal making it not far off the quality of the Retina display on the iPad3. This makes game playing and watching films a complete pleasure and a high quality experience.
The NOOK HD+ that I was sent was the 32GB model, which has double the space of our iPad3 and will last a very long time as it is not cluttered with all of The Boy's games. However, if I do need to increase the storage space, then there is a an expandable microSD slot.
Sales of the NOOK HD+ decreased in the last few months of 2013 which I think is a shame. I'm sure that the introduction of cheaper Android tablets from supermarkets have affected NOOK's sales, but I think the quality is incomparable. I use my NOOK daily, often in preference to my phone (which is giving me RSI style symptoms) and the iPad (because of its weight), and because the functionality of it is different.
The NOOK HD+ 16GB is available from £129.00 and the 32GB from £149.00 in a variety of high-street and online stores. While it doesn't have the complete capabilities of a standard Android tablet due to the lack of camera, it is an investment that I think is thoroughly worthwhile, especially as it allows for up to six profiles to be created with parental controls, and utilises the Google Playstore. I wouldn't be without it now.
I was sent this product for the purpose of this review, my opinion is honest and unbiased.