The Nook HD Plus is the Barnes & Noble equivalent of the Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9. A light and portable tablet and eReader hybrid that, despite being a little on the large side, claims to offer a custom Android UI with all the reading material and games you’ll ever need. Moreover, unlike the Kindle, it has access to the full Google Play app store. Does this lift it above the Kindle Fire and similar size rivals?
At just 515g in weight, the Nook HD Plus is light enough to hold for long periods of time, and the soft touch plastic back and large bezel mean you won’t accidentally press the touch screen at any point.
Large bezels aren’t always the most attractive, but the Nook HD Plus doesn’t look too bad. Its chunky design means it should survive a few bumps and knocks, too, which is good for families and regular commuters.
So we can forgive the chunky bezel, but the large ‘keyring’ hole in one corner is another matter. We’re not sure what it’s for, as we can’t see how you would feasibly attach anything to it – it’s just an ugly eyesore.
The redundant keyhole aside, what really lets the Nook HD Plus down is the way the tablet creaks when you apply pressure to it. The rear of the case doesn’t seem to fit properly, so leaves the tablet making an ungainly cracking noise when handled with even a small amount of force. This may just be an issue with our particular review sample, but for the £229 RRP we wouldn’t expect such shoddy build quality.
The Nook HD Plus screen is a huge part of its appeal. Its 9-inch screen jams in 256 pixels per inch (1,920 x 1,280) which, though a little short of ‘retina’ quality, makes it very sharp, particularly for the price. The colour palette is a little warm, especially for those used to the coolness of Apple iPad screens, but the good viewing angle and decent visibility in bright light more than make up for that.
Those in the know will have noticed the 1,920 x 1,280 resolution is slightly unusual. The benefit is the aspect ratio (3:2) is squarer and more comfortable for reading than the 16:9 of most tablets – i.e. it’s more like a book than a TV. One side effect, however, is some apps don’t fill the whole screen, leaving a distracting bar down one side.