Barnes & Noble is knocking $20 to $50 off the prices of its NOOK tablets running Google Android software. You can now pick up a NOOK Color for $149, an 8GB NOOK Tablet for $179, or a 16GB model for $199.
The price cuts come the better part of a year after B&N introduced the tablets. But it’s likely that Google’s introduction of a $199 Nexus 7 tablet this summer may have had something to do with B&N’s decision to slash prices.
Google’s tablet features a higher resolution display and a faster processor than the B&N tablets, and also has a front-facing camera and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software (not to mention full access to the Google Play Store with hundreds of thousands of app).
On the other hand, the B&N tablets all have microSDHC card slots for extra storage — something the Google tablet does not.
Up until recently, the 8GB NOOK Tablet and 8GB Nexus 7 were both selling for the same $199 price. Unless you really need that microSDHC card slot, the Nexus 7 looked like a much better deal.
Now that the NOOK Tablet is $20 cheaper… the Nexus 7 still looks like a better deal. $20 isn’t much to pay for a better screen, faster processor, and more well-rounded operating system.
On the other hand, Google charges $249 for a 16GB tablet, while B&N has slashed $50 off the price of its 16GB NOOK Tablet, bringing the price down to $199.
Meanwhile, the NOOK Color is still alive and kicking for bargain hunters. It’s about the same size as the newer NOOK Tablet, and has the same 1024 x 600 pixel IPS display. But B&N’s newer tablets have faster 1 GHz TI OMAP 4 dual core processors while the NOOK Color has an 800 MHz single core TI OMAP3 CPU.
The NOOK devices come with a modified version of Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread designed to let you purchase books and apps from the NOOK Shop. There are ways to root the tablets and install custom ROMs (or even boot custom ROMs from a microSD card) to give the devices a more standard Android experience, complete with access to the full Google Play Store.
On the other hand — you can always just buy a Nexus 7 and install the NOOK app to read books from the B&N eBook store.