12-29-2011 11:43 AM - edited 12-29-2011 11:47 AM
I've decided to give up the fight and return my Nook Tablet - I simply don't have the time or inclination to fight with a company that just doesn't get it.
I decided to let other prospective purchasers of the Tablet know what the pitfalls are before they buy so I posted the following review on both Amazon and Best Buy product web pages. They will likely take a couple of days to be visible. I think I've been fair in my comments.
So long folks. Such a pity B&N missed the opportunity to truly shine. And to the apologists - enjoy the eReader.
Phil, signing off.
I bought a Nook Tablet based on the principle that it was much more than an eReader and was backed by an upstanding company in Barnes & Noble.
At the price point the hardware is truly magnificent with a wonderful screen, fast processor, good storage capacity and an SD card. I didn't need the GPS and cameras that are 'missing'. The 7" form factor turned out to be ideal for my purposes.
The selection of eBooks from Barnes & Noble is excellent and even the magazines I bought are more than readable. Netflix video quality, while not High Definition, is certainly High Quality and is simply stunning with the right movie and since I am a Netflix streaming subscriber already, was 'free' to me. So far so good.
Here's the rub. The selection of apps from B&N is truly pitiful. I mean, worse than you can imagine. Now combine this with the fact that the standard email client as installed on the NT is very basic and limited and the standard web browser is little better. There are no replacements in the app store. None. What you see is what you get.
And something else makes it even worse. You can't add your Google accounts in order to sync with Google services such as contacts, calendar, reader etc.
The sad thing is the hardware is MORE THAN capable of running all these services but is being prevented from doing so by the B&N tablet software and their 'walled garden' approach - similar to that adopted by Apple but without their huge app store and connected services to create the illusion that you are not in an ecosystem prison.
There were originally two ways that NT owners could enhance the tablet but B&N are now attempting to close both of these paths with their latest operating system 'upgrade' (version 1.4.1) that is automatically installed on your Nook Tablet when you connect to the internet. They issued this 'bug fix' release on December 23rd. Bah humbug is right.
1. 'Sideloading' of applications was possible on version 1.4.0 and this let you install applications from sources other than B&N's paltry selection. So, for instance, you could install Dolphin Browser for tabbed web browsing and gesture input or Skitmail for a real email experience. Now that's all gone and you get no option to add apps that B&N don't have - which is most of them. My guess is that for most users, sideloading would have resolved the issue of the inadequate B&N app store. Had they been smart, B&N would have delayed implementing the blocking until they could dramatically increase their selection of apps.
2. 'Rooting' the tablet is a way to bypass the B&N controls and open up the tablet to the full Android experience which not only means access to the Google market and Google apps but also to 'superuser' functions to enable enhanced control of the operating system. This is not for novices and requires some technical understanding of the Android operating system so likely only a very small number of advanced users would ever attempt this. B&N have attempted to block this too. Really? What exactly is the point B&N?
So, what we have here is a truly excellent piece of hardware with a fantastic eReader infrastructure capable of doing so much more than it is permitted to do by Barnes & Noble. Their motivation is to force users to buy only from them - which as Apple have proved - is perfectly okay if you make the selection big enough. Problem is, the selection is totally, hopelessly, unbelievably inadequate.
Barnes & Noble will still have a huge hit on it's hands because many people have relatively simple needs. The pity is it could have been a massive home run in their battle to stay alive in the space they compete for with Amazon.
So what to do? With a heavy heart I will likely return my gorgeous Nook Tablet and spend just a little more for a real 7" tablet upon which I will install a Nook app and be very happy. I simply don't have the time, patience or inclination to fight a company that has proven it just doesn't 'get it'.
Know what you are getting into before you buy.
12-29-2011 12:41 PM
While I love the Tablet (I got it because I can have an e-reader with benefits), I don't think that the way Barnes & Noble originally marketed it was very good. With the "best in HD entertainment" tag line, it looked like it was HD - not that (as the truth came out) it could only handle HD input. Also the idea of having so much memory, which seems (almost) pointless if there's nothing but books to use it for, as well as a few apps (I agree the app selection isn't ideal). However, one of the things that is in the works for B&N is to have a store where you can rent/buy movies at least - and maybe music.
All that to say that while I see why it bums you and you returned it, I don't know that the average customer is expecting much more than what I was - an e-reader with benefits. Many of the people i've talked to who have the tablet love it.
12-29-2011 01:07 PM
Floridaphil - Great review! I agree with it 100%.. I am like you and already returned my two.. I was happy to sideload, but do not want to spend lots of time rooting and fighting off upgrades as the company continues to shoot off upgrades to foil the ability to root. But the device is well made, and had a lot of potential..
12-29-2011 01:58 PM
Yep I think along the same lines. Since I was mostly interested in e-reader for 90% of use thought the Nook Color would suffice. And would have to disagree that the Nook Color & Tablet Basic functions make it shine on the issue of just e-reading. As abysmal pdf handling no bookmarking or last page read unless you buy an app for it? Basic needed fixes for software that has been ongoing since it's inception. And still no resolving or fixing many issues to this day of basic ereading functions.
I had to roll my own CM7 SD card to go full android to address features lacking in basic ereading and browsing,email. As not into many games or videos. But I wanted choices and features that other ereader apps and browsers gave. So B&N basically gave me no choices for alternate apps in those areas in there own App Store. And then closed the side-load apps?
Now having Aldiko reader and Dolphin HD browser Better Email has added a Lot More functionality and ease in using. And increased those basic functions to fit my needs not B&N's anemic basic versions.
I have given up on B&N getting it! Still haven't dealt with device issues,Lousy CS support Issues,Web site Issues for purchase and downloading content. Many still since also the beginning having wifi connect issues,getting purchased books on the device,CS telling everyone to register de-register device to fix simple downloading book issues. And reseting their devices lossing all their bookmarks,saved games,notes,etc...
Too Much! is Still Too Much! even tho it is a fantactastic device that I will shun protect it from B&N and use elsewhere. I mean they have had 2 yrs. on dealing with many of the old complaints about purchased content,Web site use,CS support and fixing basic features like wifi,downloaded books,more options and adjustments in ereader. And hasn't been an improvement in those areas I can see.
12-29-2011 03:37 PM
12-29-2011 03:43 PM
12-29-2011 03:56 PM
robotecture wrote: "Regarding partitioning, once BN gets the video store up and running, the decision to reserve the memory for downloads will make alot of sense in hindsight."
1. Is a video store actually on the way, or is that just a rumor? If it's coming, when? That would be a positive development.
2. I agree that the much greater storage capacity of the NT (on-board + SD) gives it a big advantage over the Kindle Fire, especially when large files are involved. However, I don't see how B&N's goofy partitioning is necessary to exploit this advantage. "We won't allow you to use the main memory for your content now because we know you'll want to have it free for all the videos we plan to sell you someday" is not a message I need to receive from any systems vendor. Unpartitioned space is always best for the user.
12-29-2011 04:04 PM
floridaphil, I think you've got the right idea. Since it's becoming obvious that B&N aren't even going to acknowledge their own customers on their own forums, it's time to extend our complaints beyond this forum. If B&N won't listen and won't talk to us, we should let the rest of the buying public be warned and let them know how little B&N really cares.
I'm off to look for sites where I can post a review. If anyone else finds any good sites to do a review point the rest of us to it.
12-29-2011 04:22 PM
Robo, your definition of HD is obviously different than the rest of the world. The P vs. the I has little to do with the definition of HD. HD stands for High Definition, i.e. higher resolution. Now, since the NT has 600 lines of resolution it is higher than standard. but it has nothing to do with the progressive scan.
Or would you consider 480p (which has been around for so long) to also be HD? Because most of us would not.
12-31-2011 12:08 AM
I owned an original Nook for 2 years. Received a Nook Tablet on Christmas day, but did some reading and found out B&N eliminated sideloading before I opened the box. Combined with B&N's non-support of the Comixology app, this was a deal breaker. I returned the Nook on Monday and had a Kindle Fire at my door on Wednesday.
Now I'm running the Nook app (and plenty of other sideloaded apps, it's so easy to do) on my Fire so I can enjoy B&N content, and I'm reading all the comics I want. Plus I saved $50 that I can spend on more books!
12-31-2011 03:11 AM
12-31-2011 03:52 AM
12-31-2011 01:16 PM
By the logic David Pogue makes, that the Nook Tablet cannot possibly "play HD" because the screen is only 1024 x 600, this would mean that no 7" tablet plays HD video when streaming HD video. The nook tablet has the same screen size as the blackberry playbook, samsung galaxy 7", Asus eee pad, etc., all of which have advertised the ability to play HD video content. So I guess he is just claiming there is no real HD on a 7" tablet, even though they can stream HD for superior quality to the standard def stream...
Really, are you seriously tring to tell me that no 7" tab has a native resolution greater than 1024 x 600. Because that is what your post says. Not all 7" screens are equal apparently.
1280 x 800 native resolution which is HD.
But I didn't say the NT wasn't HD, I just dispute your claim that progressive scan is what makes it HD, higher resolution does. Which is why we don't consider 480P to be HD.
12-31-2011 09:35 PM
> Robo, your definition of HD is obviously different than the rest of the world. The P vs. the I has little to do with the definition of HD. HD stands for High Definition, i.e. higher resolution. Now, since the NT has 600 lines of resolution it is higher than standard. but it has nothing to do with the progressive scan. <
not only that, but the last time I checked, the interlaced 1080i rez was considered HD! It also happens to be the format that 70-80% of all HD content is broadcast in (whether OTA, cable, or satellite).
Robo's heart is in the right place though (bashing Pogue, who hasn't got a clue what he's talking about, but will have many of his disciples spewing the same nonsense).
The fact is that if you take HD content (either 1280x720p, or 1920x1080i, or 1920x1080p... ALL of which the NT can handle directly, without conversion), it will look better when downscaled to the NT screen at 1024x576 than anything lesser scaled up to that rez (like the old 854x480 was on the NC).
The second benefit being, as mentioned above, no need to convert it first before playing. That's a pretty big plus, all by itself.
12-31-2011 09:54 PM
> If you have two 1080 p screens, one that is a 40" and the other that is 50", the 40" tv will actually have a better image quality. <
Urg. I don't really want to get into a can of worms that no one will find tasty, but even that isn't absolute. You left out viewing distance, and the angle between pixel scanlines that is subtended by the eye.
> But with regards to interlaced vs progressive video, progressive is superior and is what makes HD sharp and what technically is the qualifying criteria for high definition. <
Nope. Sorry. Not at all. You might want to talk to NBC and CBS and HBO and a very much longer list, and tell them that their 1080i content is NOT HD.
> A smaller screen would never need to be 1080 in order to have the same quality level and definition as a large screen tv, and it would be ridiculous to expect that a 7" tablet would need to display 1080 to be considered HD. <
Depends on how far away it was, but yeah, a 7" display at 1920x1080 would be a bit ridiculous (overkill).
> Its the same reason why when you have an HD tv, and you play a regular dvd, it will never be as sharp as the same tv playing a blueray disk... <
Ah, no, again. I can play all of my movie DVDs (480i@60fps) at 480p, because of how they were telecined from 24fps film. I.e., get full 480p progressive back. Still doesn't stack up to Blu-ray, and that's because of the rez (1080 scan lines, vs. 480; and 1920 horizontal rez, vs 720 for DVD), NOT the progressive differentiation.
> This is why, in side by side tests playing Netflix content, the unanimous reqction by reviewers, including David Pogue in a follow up blog post, admitted that the nook tablet video looked way better and sharper than the kindle fire viewed side by side... <
It's true that it does. All you got wrong was the reason why.
> Its because while both screens are LCD screens, the one playing the standard definition content is interpolating intermittent bands of resolution as an image (only half the pixels are dusplayed at any one time in the way the video was coded, and the device is just filling in the gaps) while in the HD content, the digital content being played has a full complete set of pixels in every frame. <
Nope. Sorry. See my explanation above. (Seems like we covered all this once before, some time back.) Scaling 480 up (either 480i OR 480p) will be blurrier, and suffer from artifacting, that won't be present on 720p/1080i/1080p scaled down.
12-31-2011 09:59 PM
> The nook tablet has the same screen size as the blackberry playbook, samsung galaxy 7", Asus eee pad, etc., all of which have advertised the ability to play HD video content. <
Those claims are based on the fact that they include HDMI outputs (which the NT lacks). And in fact, even there, while some of those devices will play 720p HD content, they can't handle 1080i OR p! Even some 10-inchers can't handle more than 720p (again, via HDMI... none have 1920x1080 screens).
12-31-2011 10:09 PM
> Not all 7" screens are equal apparently.
1280 x 800 native resolution which is HD. <
Yep, which is pretty cool. And to be fair to robo, the Thrive7 is pretty new. The only other I know of (and I may be out of date) is the GT7.7 that does 1280x800, but that's not quite 7".
> But I didn't say the NT wasn't HD, I just dispute your claim that progressive scan is what makes it HD, higher resolution does. Which is why we don't consider 480P to be HD. <
Right. 480p is called ED (enhanced definition). Also I agree that the NT can play HD content directly, which is a unique advantage, and provides better quality than the competition. Too bad it got all twisted up with the "but the screen isn't HD rez!" stuff, and now the progressive confusion. Just because B&N couldn't market it accurately, because they wanted to imply it was more than it was (their usual tactic).
A screen has to be at least 1280x720 to be true HD, but a lower-rez screen can play HD.
12-31-2011 10:28 PM
> I think you've got the right idea. Since it's becoming obvious that B&N aren't even going to acknowledge their own customers on their own forums, <
If they did, it would be a first. It's not B&N policy to do so. Hopefully that's not what you were expecting.
> it's time to extend our complaints beyond this forum. If B&N won't listen <
Well, you can't conclude that they're not listening. I suspect they have heard you loud and clear. I'm pretty sure that Alex and his team pass on customer concerns from here. Still doesn't mean you're going to get any direct response.
> and won't talk to us, we should let the rest of the buying public be warned and let them know how little B&N really cares. <
There have been times that I felt like B&N didn't care as well. However, I'm not sure that's a conclusion that's easily justified.
They may care very much, but simply have different ideas and priorities than you or I do. They could have a particular POV, honestly held, yet be completely wrong. Doesn't mean they don't care. As time goes on, they may adjust their POV, and it may move in the direction you want. Or it may not.
12-31-2011 11:13 PM
Perhaps, let's just hope that "as time goes on" isn't too late. Things move fast in the tech world, and it's easy to get left behind if you get entrenched in the way you've always done things.