August 20, 2014 Last Updated 11:05 am

Barnes & Noble does book and magazine publishers no favors with launch of new NOOK

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is light on tech specs – including its display and, most importantly, storage

That the big tablet makers are cheap when it comes to storage is not news. Apple still offers 16 GB for its low-end, and charges much more than its competitors. Amazon gives owners 8 GB for its Kindle Fire series at the low-end, and 16 GB for the Fire HDX.

Barnes & Noble today introduced a new NOOK tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK – and it, too, is light on storage.

SamsungNOOK-smNo wonder it seems like the whole industry is pushing plain text eBooks and replica edition digital magazines, the file sizes are small compared to interactive products, better to fit in these tablets.

The new Samsung tablet for B&N is getting pretty lukewarm reviews from tech sites, which by their very definition like to get wowed by specs. But in this case they have a point: a cheap tablet is expected to have lower specs, but there is a point where the buyer has to ask “what’s the point?”

Barnes & Noble does not include TNM in its product releases, so I have no hands-on experience with the new tablet. But I can read.

The new NOOK is priced at $179 comes with 8 GB of storage. B&N is already offering a $20 rebate and free shipping on the tablet, so that this is going after the low end of the market is a bit obvious. With 8 GB of storage, the reality is that the owner really only gets about 4 GB of usable space – or about half a year’s worth of digital magazines, if they are interactive or contain any embedded media.

Its 7″ LCD display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 at 216 pixels per inch. By way of comparison, the Kindle Fire 7″ tablet has the same resolution and is priced at $139 if you can tolerate Amazon’s “special offers”, and $154 if you can not. Both have WiFi but no 3G. In other words, the new NOOK is a me-too product at a time when most thought B&N was done with this way of doing business.

At $399, Apple’s iPad mini retina tablet is in a different league. But with 16 GB on the low-end, and a 2048 x 1536 resolution, publishers know which product is better for displaying their publications.

But the market is not going in the iPad’s direction right now. Smartphones are getting larger, tablets are getting cheaper and not necessarily better. There are no exciting rumors for the new model of iPad Apple is to launch this fall, so publishers are not getting any help with their digital editions right now.

When I first saw this commercial my first thought was “who approved this?” Now that the new NOOK has been released I have an answer: the same person who approved the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK.

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