Nook Tablet vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

If you read my post comparing the Kindle Fire to the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, you probably think you know how this particular matchup is going to end. After all, the Nook has many of the same limitations as the Fire, including limited hardware and app selection.

Read: Kindle Fire vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)

However, the Nook has some benefits over the Kindle Fire that make it a better choice for some consumers, even over the Tab 2.

Still, Samsung’s tablet has some distinct advantages and costs the same. Which one is best for you or the person on your gift list? Read our detailed comparison below to find out.

Nook Tablet vs Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

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Note: The bulk of this comparison uses the original $249 Nook Tablet.

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Software and Interface

The Nook Tablet runs a version of Android, just like the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, but Barnes & Noble designed an interface for the Tablet that simplifies the operating system. Unless you happen to know, it’s not apparent from looking at the Nook that Android is behind the scenes. This has major appeal for consumers who aren’t comfortable with Android or tech in general.

Nook Tablet Home

The simple interface is easy to use and guides readers almost every step of the way. It’s also very attractive and includes some fun extras like the ability to add book covers to the Home screen and resize Home screen icons.

The drawback is that B&N restricts the Tablet. One restriction that even novice users will notice is that you can’t load any Android app, only those found in the App Shop. Many core settings are hidden, which means no sideloading apps.

Galaxy Tab 2 Home Screen

The Tab 2 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a interface/skin over it called TouchWiz. TouchWiz changes the look of Android a little and makes it a bit easier to use by tweaking features and functions. However, the experience you get is pretty much the same as with most Android devices.

You’ll also get the benefits of the newest Android operating system — one that’s made specifically to work on large displays. Samsung doesn’t place any extra limitations on the apps you can download or sideload.

Display

Both tablets have 7-inch displays with a 1024 x 600 resolution and both offer rich colors, true blacks, and plenty of brightness when you need it. They also both offer wide viewing angles.

The Nook Tablet’s IPS display has some advantages over the Galaxy Tab 2 when it comes to outdoor viewing. In sunlight, the display is readable, especially at 100% brightness, but in a different way than the Tab 2.

Since the Nook is all about eReading, the display essentially makes text stand out from lighter backgrounds in a more natural way. Thus you can turn the brightness down to 50% or even 25% and still read comfortably.

Viewing the Tab 2 in sunlight is possible at high brightness levels, though the backlight is very harsh looking and not great for long reading sessions.

Apps and eBooks

Barnes & Noble designed the Nook Tablet primarily for readers, as the display suggests. This also comes through in the design of the apps for reading books, magazines and comics. Readers have a myriad of options for fonts, text size, color themes and more. It’s easy to both immerse yourself in the text and flip through to find the section or information you’re looking for.

Nook Magazine

A Magazine on the Nook Tablet

In addition to the content above, B&N also has an extensive library of enhanced children’s books. These titles include Read To Me, interactive elements that enhance reading skills, and even fun animations to keep them engaged. Some titles even allow an adult to record their own voice reading the book.

This focus on eReading also informs the selections in Barnes & Noble’s app store. Currently, there are about 3,000 apps available compared to over 450,000 in the Android Market/Google Play Store. The Nook’s app selections tend to those with a literary theme, casual games and puzzles, productivity and utilities.

Nook App Store Featured

If your primary focus is on reading, the small app selection isn’t a big deal. Same if you’re looking for a really simple tablet. Plus, all of the apps available for the Nook have been tested to ensure they work on it, unlike the Wild West of the Google Play Store.

Though the Nook Tablet can read eBooks from almost any store that sells the ePub format (Sony, Kobo, Google) including libraries with digital lending, it can’t read Kindle eBooks. The Galaxy Tab 2 can.

Galaxy Tab 2 Apps

Google Play Apps

You can find apps for most major eBook sellers in the Google Play Store, including apps for Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Google Play and Sony plus indie eBook apps that aren’t tied to a specific store. Library lending is possible, too. The only one missing is iBooks.

The Nook app for Android offers a similar experience for eReading as doing so on the Nook Tablet itself. You’ll be able to read books and magazines with a full layout on the Tab 2 and access most of the same settings for reading. The only content the Nook app doesn’t have access to is enhanced children’s books.

Avid readers may want to weigh the benefits of the Nook’s better display against what the Galaxy Tab 2 brings to the table. However, the access to multiple store’s apps is also a major favor.

Multimedia

Reading is the Nook Tablet’s raison d’etre, but it also aims to satisfy the media itch as well. Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora all come pre-loaded. And users can play their own music and Android-compatible videos through the Music and Gallery apps. Just load it on the Tablet or a microSD card.

What the Nook seriously lacks is a way to purchase media from the device. There are hints that something along these lines is coming, though no official word.

Galaxy Tab 2 Media Hub Movies

Samsung pre-loaded the company’s Media Hub and Music Hub on the Galaxy Tab 2. These hubs offer access to movies (rent or buy), TV episodes, and the newest album releases. While the offerings aren’t as extensive as iTunes, the apps make it simple to discover, purchase and watch media.

Hardware and Design

Nook Tablet

Hardware is another area where the focus on a tablet for readers comes out in the Nook. The Tablet lacks some components other tablets have by default, such as front and rare-facing cameras and a Bluetooth radio. Unlike the Kindle Fire, which has a similar sensibility, the Nook does have a microSD card slot that takes cards up to 32GB.

The micro USB port on the bottom is only good for charging and transferring files to and from the computer — no attaching a keyboard or other accessory.

At 8.1 x 5.0 x 0.48 inches and 14.1 ounces it’s larger and a little heavier than the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.6 x 4.8 x 0.41 inches, 12.2 ounces). Both are still small enough to fit in even small bags, but the lighter weight of the Tab 2 makes it a little more comfortable for long-term reading.

Inside, the tablets both have a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, meaning they perform well, especially when multitasking. The Nook Tablet can boast twice as much internal memory — 16GB to the Tab 2’s 8GB.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Despite that shortcoming, the Galaxy Tab is a better piece of hardware since it does have all the features and components tablet shoppers expect. In addition to cameras and Bluetooth it also ha a GPS radio. Samsung also has some accessories that attach to the port on the bottom.

I should also mention the $199 8GB version of the Nook Tablet. It has the same design, display and dual-core processor as the 16GB version. However, in addition to half the internal storage, it also has half the RAM (512GB). Most users will only notice the difference if they have a bunch of apps open at once and try to switch between them.

Thus, the $199 Nook Tablet has the same pros and cons as the 16GB when compared to the Galaxy Tab 2. Being $50 less will influence a lot of decisions, but spending extra on the Tab 2 gets you far more features and fewer limitations.

The Bottom Line

I would recommend the Nook Tablet to people who aren’t tech-savvy or who just want a simple, easy-to-use tablet device who are also big into eBooks and eReading. For that audience, it’s still a great device.

For everyone else I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. For the same price you get access to more apps, portals for buying media, all the features and extras one expects in a tablet and the latest Android operating system. It’s the best tablet you can buy at this price right now.

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet Full Review | Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 70. Full Review

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Comments

  1. Rich says

    I’m considering the Galaxy although since my main purpose is e-reader (besides using the skype client), does it afford “article view” such as the Nook? This attribute makes reading magazines and newspapers with numerous articles a snap as they render automatically with the appropriately sized text and fill the screen to optimize reading with less eyestrain. Presumably the Galaxy when running the Nook app provides the same user interface and presentation of content to the viewer?

    • olivaarteshowbymirta says

      I am very happy with my Galaxie Tab 2 that I bought over two months ago. I can revise the books I wrote without eye strain either while in the outside porch or inside with artificial or natural light. Although I have not explored its numerous features as yet, the Tab 2 works for me based on random app searches I have made. The Wi-Fi turns on right away.

  2. Linda says

    I have a Nook Tablet and a Samsung smart phone. My phone has the Android apps so I’m very familiar with how they work . A lot of the nook apps cost money which are free on my phone. Also once you download a nook app it’s there permanently taking up space. You cannot uninstall it even if you dont like it like I can on my phone. GO WITH THE SAMSUNG TABLET. Wish I had.

    • Robert Garcia says

      Wrong, you can easily remove any downloaded app or book, on any Nook, by simply sending it to the “archive”. Just go to the Books or Apps Library find the item to be removed. Long-press the icon and select Archive. That’s it! Archiving removes the app or book from your device, but is still available in the B&N cloud for re-downloading again at any time. This is great if you want to remove but later re-download a magazine or book previously read. Magazines do take up more room due to their high graphic content. Archiving is also a good way to fix an issue with a book or app that doesn’t open or run properly.

      • Katie says

        Robert,
        While ‘Archiving’ seems to get rid of the material, and fixes some bugs and glitches, it still does take up storage on your Nook, or any other device that uses archiving. So I agree with Linda, get the Samsung Tab. It gives you a lot more tablet for the money. Hope this helps. (Not meaning to start an archiving argument, just trying to help clarify.)

  3. Sherri says

    How do I share books with my sisters when they have nooks and I have a samsung tablet. Someone told me it was possible to do this, I just don’t know how. What app do I need or how do I set it up??

  4. Masha says

    Hope someone can verify this for me. In one review of the GT2 I read that it does not support Hulu Plus. Is that true? That’s my deal breaker right there. However otherwise I’d like GT2 Vs Nook Tablet. Please advise.

    • Robert Garcia says

      The Samsung GT2 does indeed do Hulu+. Just download the free app for it as well as for other streaming video services such as Netflix, YouTube and TED Talks, just to name my favorites. All of which work very well on the GT2 tablet. And the 7-inch size is ideal viewing and portability. Of course the microSD card slot enables you sideload additional media content of your choice on memory card (up to 32GB) making it infinitely flexible for new content.

      • Masha says

        Thank you for your reply. Meanwhile I decided to go with Asus Transformer 10″ tablet instead. I have Asus laptop and I love it. I figured for $50 more why not.

  5. joseph says

    I think the decision comes ultimately down to content. The nook has waaay more magazine titles than what is offered on the Galaxy (via NextIssue or Nizio). I agree the Galaxy is a much better piece of equipment, but if you read alot (like me) – you may be ‘forced’ into having to buy two devices (lik me). Also, although a magazine may be available for Android Galaxy it doesnt always format properly…..whereas on the nook, things always look great (BN has some clout when it comes to publisher deals). Overall, decide based on what u want to use it for – I completely agree with the author here.

    btw I own the older Nook Color (not Tablet)

  6. Jay says

    I have both the Nook and the GT2 and the GT2 wins hands down. One thing I really like is the Universal remote using the infrared built in to the G2.
    Also, you can install and use (that a big word use) HBOgo, Nook app. Kindle app, Hulu plus, Peel, Google maps, Navigation, Skype and more… One downfall is the display which is not optimized for reading out the box, some tweaking is required. Pros: Android Ice Cream 4.0 doesn’t require rooting. If you do get the Nook even after rooting 1.4.2 you are still limited because of the version of the Android OS and it’s nook capable of running HBOgo at all even with the Dolphin HD browser.

  7. Sue says

    I bought a Nook Tablet last Thanksgiving and returned it because I felt I was behind prison walls with it. Couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that, 8gb of the 16gb memory was dedicated to B&N content, no guaranty at the time that they’d open the gates. I took it back. Then I was elated when ASUS announced their 7-inch tablet in January and was waiting patiently for their tablet. Then it turned out that they branded it to Google. Now I’m looking at the Galaxy Tab. I think this will suit me.

  8. Greg Nergenah says

    Has anyone used a N2A smart card on your Nook which allows you to run android apps. You can toggle between Nook and Android. Have the best of two worlds. $35 at Fry Electronics. It has good reviews. Thinking on buying a 16 GB Nook expecially if this card works as well as they say it does. Should be able to read Kindle books too.

  9. Marytrremmall says

    I have heard how good this nook tablet is for your kids and I’m willing to get one for my 6 year old daughter and one for myself

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