An e-reader for every nook and cranny

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iol scitech feb 7 Nook HD REUTERS William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble holds the newly announced NOOK HD+, and NOOK HD in New York.

What is it?

Every new tablet seems to have a niche. The iPad Mini is for browsing and dominating the app world in a smaller fashion. The new Surface is a proper computer with a keyboard and a tablet at the same time. The Kindle Fire HD is all about watching films and reading books, while Google's tablets seem to try and do everything at the same time.

The new 7in Nook HD from Barnes & Noble is being marketed as the e-reader not just for books, but for displaying luxury magazines in all their glossy glory. Like its Kindle Fire HD rival, it's run on Android with a backlight display and wi-fi capability for downloading content, streaming films and browsing the web, but unlike its rivals, it boasts a crystal-clear 243 pixel-per-inch screen. That's better than both the Kindle Fire HD and the new iPad Mini.

Does it work?

First impressions aren't great. I immediately tried to peel off a rather plastically raised bezel which encased the Nook HD. It turns out this is meant to be there, but this misunderstanding aside, it's an easy piece of kit to get used to. It's not a proper tablet, so don't expect a camera or a fully stocked app store, but as a dedicated e-reader it really is excellent.

The pre-loaded magazines I flicked through all look great on its high-resolution HD screen. And I even got used to the heavy bezel and the slightly recessed screen which meant it rarely got smeared by my mucky fingers on the edge of the screen. It's lightweight, too, at just 315g - the Kindle Fire HD is 80g heavier - but feels like it has been built to last with a rubberised plastic back.

The two biggest issues are the hard drive and app store. You can upgrade with a 64GB micro SD card for extra storage, but the Barnes & Noble online store in the UK feels a little sparse. And, oddly for an e-reader aimed at glossy mag readers, it's tricky to track down some of the bigger titles. For instance it is easy to download Total Vauxhall or Closer, but you won't find Top Gear or Vogue.

Who's it for?

The Nook HD is probably best suited to someone who doesn't feel they need to browse the web or use apps very often, but wants the best possible image quality for books and magazines.

Some will complain that it doesn't have a camera or isn't compatible with Google Play's app store, but this isn't really a tablet rival.

I didn't even bother using the email facility much after setting it up. It's for reading, not getting distracted. Who wants the distraction of Twitter, Facebook or your boss emailing you?

Is it worth the money?

If you understand the Nook's limitations, it's a great alternative to the Kindle Fire HD and a much cheaper option than the iPad Mini. And if you value pixel-by-inch resolution quality, this is the e-reader for you.

BARNES AND NOBLE NOOK HD:

Screen: 7-inch

Resolution: 1440x900 with a 243ppi

Operating system: Android 2.3 - The Independent

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