Barnes and Noble Unveils New ‘Nook’ Tablet for $249

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Bookseller Barnes and Noble has revamped its popular 7-inch color e-book reader today. Simply called the Nook Tablet, the new version will sell for $249 starting next week, and features a 1GHz dual-core processor to power playback of HD movies, videos and TV shows. There will be a host of apps and games available at launch as well. Angry Birds anyone?

Aesthetically, the device appears identical to the currently-available Nook Color e-reader, yet its internal specs make the Nook Tablet more like a tablet than an e-reader with a color screen—hence the name. The tablet will face steep competition from the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire due out next week, which has been highly anticipated for its aggressive price tag and deep integration of Amazon content.

(MORE: Amazon Services, Not Pricing, Is Why the Kindle Fire Is Disruptive)

On the content front, Barnes and Noble’s tablet will come preloaded with Netflix and Hulu Plus apps, featuring 1080p video playback and nine-hour battery life for watching videos, along with music from Pandora and content from the built-in Barnes and Noble e-book store. The readable content contains a vast array of electronic books, but also sports 250+ magazines and a large collection of digital comic books from popular publishers.

Barnes and Noble has also been working closely with app developers to create versions of popular Android apps that’ll take advantage of the Nook Color’s 7-inch 1024×600-resolution touchscreen. Unlike other Android tablets and phones, however, the Nook Tablet won’t feature full access to the Android Market and all the apps therein.

As for competing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire—and seemingly to justify the Nook Tablet’s more expensive price tag—Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch said that the Nook Tablet has a better screen (it’s the “first fully-laminated display” and features a wider viewing angle), double the on-board memory (16GB versus the Kindle Fire’s 8GB), it’s lighter, and it has double the RAM of the Kindle Fire (1GB versus 512MB).

The Nook Tablet will be available next week at various retailers (and Barnes and Noble stores, of course) for $249. The starting price for the Nook Color has dropped to $199.

The price of Barnes and Noble’s “Nook Simple Touch” black and white e-ink e-book reader has also dropped from $139 to $99. The product has been slightly revamped to offer up to two months of reading on a single charge and what Barnes and Noble says is 25% faster page turns than any other e-ink product. Its main competition from Amazon is the Kindle Wi-Fi, which sells for $79 for the “Special Offers” version that loads up ads on the device’s screen when not in use. Amazon’s ad-free version runs for $109.

MORE: Amazon Unveils $199 ‘Kindle Fire’ Android Tablet, $99 ‘Kindle Touch’