When the Nook Tablet shipped late last year, it seemed like a modest update to the earlier Nook Color, which itself felt like a middle step between a traditional e-reader and a true tablet. The Kindle Fire easily trumped it on UI and available media, though, and now the Nexus 7 has made both feel rather simplistic. So what purpose does the Nook Tablet serve now?

Nook Tablet Review

We liked

The ability to expand the storage via an optional 32GB microSD card is sure to be a perk for some users with extensive personal video or music libraries, and simply want a low-priced, portable tablet to run it all on.

While the UI doesn't do it any favors, the display is comparable to the Kindle Fire and apps and games that we're used to on other platforms with comparable specs and dimensions largely work just as well on the Nook Tablet.

We disliked

Aside from some flexibility in how you arrange your apps and books and such, the UI isn't appealing. It's cumbersome in use, adding extra steps on your path towards both buying and using digital content, and text can look blurry in places.

The Nook Store is a pale shadow of what we've seen on other platforms, whether it's the startlingly paltry app selection or the lack of native movie and music stores. Even getting around the minimal app listings and finding what you're looking for can be rather frustrating.

Encased in various forms of plastic, the Nook Tablet feels a bit cheap, like a device designed specifically for kids. It's a bit awkward and heavy in the hand, even though the larger borders were seemingly designed to benefit reading.

Nook Tablet Review

Verdict

Beyond the ability to run a fair bit of media from an external microSD card, nearly everything else about the Nook Tablet experience is either adequate or worse compared to other seven-inch options like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. From the meager app offerings to the clunky UI and cumbersome build, it's a device that feels significantly older than it really is at this point.

Surely Barnes & Noble has something more advanced on the horizon, but for now, the only users we can see even considering a Nook device like this are those already so entrenched in the Nook reading ecosystem who wish only to occasionally surf the web, check email, or use apps like Netflix and Angry Birds. More advanced needs should be pursued with more advanced tablets, even at the $200 level.