Nook HD review

The lightest, highest resolution 7-inch tablet, but is it any good?

Nook HD review
It may look good on paper, but that doesn't always translate

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When the Nook HD was first launched Barnes and Noble did away with Google's own-brand app store, in favour of a more refined offering.

Nook HD review

However the company has now seen the error of its ways and has brought back Google Play with its latest software update for the tablet.

This means you now have access to the 700,000+ applications available in Google Play - or so you may think.

It turns out that not every app is compatible with the Nook HD and after a brief 15 minutes of searching we found five apps which we couldn't download, including Shazam and Foursquare.

Barnes and Noble's original app store remains as part of the shop but there's no need to use this now with Google Play offering up a much better selection.

Nook HD review

In terms of pre-installed apps the Nook HD is relatively light – in the UK it comes with music streaming service Spotify already on board, while over in the US you get its rival Pandora.

Aside from that there are the stock apps, browser, calendar, contacts, email and music player, but that's your lot – the Nook HD is pretty much a clean slate out of the box.

Accessed via the Shop menu on the Nook HD, the app store does feature some classics such as Netflix, Twitter and Flipboard, but we were disappointed to find how many of our favourites were missing,

There's no Facebook app, which is pretty criminal in the world of mobile devices these days, leaving you to use the social network's mobile site in the browser only.

Nook HD review

Large corporations also seem to be missing from the Nook shop, with the likes of Sky, BBC and ITV not represented.

We're not fans of the way the app store is laid out either, while there are top lists, staff picks and featured applications; the navigation is far more clunky than the sideway swipes required to move round Android's native Google Play.

Another thing which irritated us was the search function within the store. Even if you're already in the app section, typing in iPlayer will search the whole shop, including books, newspapers and magazines, returning a deluge of content as a result.

This can then be filtered to show just apps, but it would be better if the store was smarter than this – like in Google Play.

Nook HD review

Apps on the whole are also a little pricier, and in some cases a lot more expensive than Google Play, which seems to be just a simple money making scheme unless a HUGE amount of curation is needed to bring them to the Nook HD.


Nook HD review

As far as games go the Nook shop currently has just over 1,700 on offer, although lots of big names are missing such as Temple Run, Need for Speed and Real Racing 3.

As we've mentioned though Google Play is now on the Nook HD, giving you access to all three titles above plus a host of others.

The graphically intensive games pretty much all seem to be absent on the Nook HD, although that's no great surprise considering the tablet struggles to load the general interface efficiently – the 3D requirements of Dead Space may melt this little slate.

Less intensive games such as PacMan and Angry Birds ran fine, with games taking around 10-20 seconds to download and install.

Nook HD review

As with the apps, games are generally more expensive than in Google Play. Take Angry Birds Space for example – 69p in the Play store, but a massive £2.29 on the Nook for the same game! Madness.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.