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Nook Tablet vs. iPad 3rd Gen

Each tablet has pros and cons based on how and where you plan to use it, how into eReading or media you are, and how much you’re willing to spend. Need help deciding which one is best for you? Read on for comparison of the new iPad and the Nook Tablet.



The new iPad earned our Editors’ Choice Award last week and the loyalty of over 3 million buyers this weekend. While it may seem like everyone in the world bought one of Apple’s new $499+ tablets, I know there are many of you out there still trying to decide.

Just because it’s the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best tablet for you. Different people have different needs.

If you’re contemplating a tablet in the 7-inch size range for the portability or the lower price, you’re probably checking out $199 – $249 Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. We gave this an Editors’ Choice, too, and it’s still a personal favorite of mine.

Each tablet has pros and cons based on how and where you plan to use it, how into eReading or media you are, and how much you’re willing to spend. Need help deciding which one is best for you? Read on for comparison of the new iPad and the Nook Tablet.

Nook Tablet vs iPad 3rd Generation

Nook Tablet vs. iPad 3rd Gen

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Apple iPad 3rd Gen | 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches | 1.44 pounds (23.04 ounces)

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet | 8.1 x 5.0 x 0.48 inches | 14.1 ounces

People looking to do a great deal of reading on their tablet will notice the size difference between the iPad and Nook Tablet the most. It’s not as much about the screen as it is about the whole package.

The iPad is light for a near-10 inch slate. You’ll still feel it more when you’re trying to hold it during long reading sessions.

The Nook Tablet weighs almost half as much and is easier to stow away in a jacket pocket or small bag. It’s lighter than the Nook Color that came before it, which was just a little too heavy for long reading sessions. The Tablet is not.

Nook Tablet and iPad 3rd Generation

As I noted in my Kindle Fire vs. iPad post, it’s easier to pull out a 7-inch tablet while on a crowded train or bus, standing in line, or other scenarios where you can only use one hand or can’t settle in and get completely comfortable.

Those who don’t want or need to take their tablet everywhere and will mainly use it at home, the iPad is a better choice. There the weight isn’t as much of an issue since you can rest it on your legs or a stand. Plus, when watching video, referencing recipes, or scanning social networks while multitasking, the larger display is an asset.


The Nook Tablet’s IPS display isn’t as impressive as the super HD 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina Display on the iPad, it’s still a good display for reading. Thanks to wide viewing angles and decent outdoor visibility, users can comfortably spend hours in a book without eye strain (as long as LCDs don’t annoying them to begin with).

The 1024 x 600 resolution is fine for the Nook Tablet’s apps, and small text isn’t too fuzzy/indistinct to read. Thanks to bright colors and deep blacks, watching Netflix and playing games is enjoyable as well.

However, the iPad’s display is made for watching video, playing complex 3D games, and for reading small fonts. Side by side, the iPad is also brighter than the Nook Tablet with both set at 100%. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for the iPad, as a brighter LCD means your eyes will need a break faster.

For people who plan to do more reading than playing games or watching video, the iPad is overkill.

Reading and eBooks

Nook Tablet

Since the beginning, Barnes & Noble has emphasized the Nook Tablet’s priority as a device for people who love reading. It can do many of the things other tablets can do, but you buy it because your big priority is eBooks. The iPad makes for a good eReader, but that’s clearly not its major function.

B&N built a comprehensive eReading experience into the Nook Tablet that pervades almost every aspect of the device. The bookseller always incorporates the best ideas and technology into the Nook Tablet (and Color) first, such as enhanced magazines, comics, and enhanced children’s books.

The eBook app found here is one of the best I’ve ever tried because it offers several color and theme choices, one-touch access to screen brightness, and simple social sharing functionality. The magazine reading experience on the Nook is top notch and kid’s books strike a good balance between interactivity and keeping the focus on reading.

Nook Tablet Book Settings

Owners aren’t limited to only eBooks from Barnes & Noble — it’s possible to load books from other stores that sell EPUB format (Sony, Kobo, Google) and library loaned eBooks. There’s no way to read Kindle books without either rooting the Nook or breaking the DRM (with one slim exception).

Apple’s iBooks comes with the iPad, but it’s not the only eReading app available to owners. Most of the major eBooksellers, including B&N, have iPad apps: Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, Kobo Books. Through these or other eReader apps users can also read library eBooks.

In addition to the Kindle and Nook apps, users can get their digital periodical on with Apple’s Newsstand or Zinio. While I’m a big fan of magazines on the Nook, I really like not having to zoom in to read smaller text on the iPad. This goes for comics, too.

Customers who want the most choices across the board or who just don’t read that much will be happy with the iPad. The Nook Tablet is a better choice for hard core eBook lovers.


Real Racing 2 Apple iPad Airplay Game

If multimedia is your priority there’s no doubt that the iPad is the superior tablet. The Nook plays and streams music and video smoothly and provides a decent experience. But those functions are secondary and there to compliment the eReading aspects. The iPad is made for media consumption.

This is even more true for the new iPad thanks to the Retina Display and the tablet’s AirPlay capabilities. Users can watch full 1080p HD video, stream anything on the screen to an HDTV via Apple TV, and play graphics-intensive games thanks to the A5X processor inside.

The Nook Tablet can play the same file types as any Android Gingerbread device, but has no content store for music or video. The iPad has access to the vast iTunes library for music and video (rent or own) plus a slew of streaming apps to choose from.


iPad Apps

Right now there are over 585,000 apps available in Apple’s App Store and over 200,000 of those are made specifically for the iPad.

The Nook Tablet is an Android device, but does not have official access to the Google Play Store/Android Market. Nook users are limited to the Nook App Store (unless they root) with just over 2,800 apps.

The reason for the small selection (beyond there being fewer Android apps in general) is that Barnes & Noble is super selective about what they’ll approve for the Nook Tablet. The apps here are supposed to compliment the Reader’s Tablet vibe they have going on. There are some games and fun apps, though for the most part you’ll find productivity, women’s interests, utilities, or literature-related apps.

Nook Apps

If your app needs are simple – productivity apps, reading, surfing the web, a game every now and then – the Nook Tablet offers that.

Almost any new, hot app can be found in the iTunes App Store, and thousands are exclusive to that platform, making the iPad attractive for people who want to do everything with it.

Like Apple, Amazon checks every app they offer in their store for viruses, malware, and compatibility with the Fire.

Price and Selection

Consumers with budget concerns will certainly eye the Nook Tablet favorably as it costs 50-60% less than the iPad. The trade-off is that the Nook’s hardware and features aren’t as robust as the iPad’s.

Beyond just being smaller, the Nook doesn’t have any cameras, Bluetooth, 3G or 4G options, or HDMI output. Not everyone needs these extras and would gladly give them up to save money.

The iPad offers almost everything a tablet shopper could want both in the hardware and software realms and works to justify the premium price. There are three Wi-Fi only models — $499 16GB, $599 32GB, $699 64GB – and then three models with the same internal storage plus 4G LTE on AT&T and three more models with 4G LTE service provided by Verizon Wireless that cost $629, $729 and $829.

There are two Nook Tablet models. The original $249 16GB version and a $199 8GB model with half as much RAM. Both only offer Wi-Fi connectivity. Unlike the iPad, Nook owners can expand the amount of storage space with a microSD card (up to 32GB extra).

The Bottom Line

eBook lovers, people with simple tablet needs, and consumers with tight budgets will be better off going for the Nook Tablet. Barnes & Noble’s device offers a great eReading experience and portability.

People looking for a tablet with more of everything from apps to content to resolution will be happier with the iPad.



  1. Keith Jose

    03/20/2012 at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the good review. This is the first review I’ve read on the Web that understands the true benefits of the Nook Tablet, and that it shouldn’t be assumed that the Nook Tablet is chasing the iPad in any way. The Nook Tablet serves a niche that the trendy market doesn’t seem intelligent enough to realize. I have so many damn devices that “do everything” – Smartphone, Laptop, Desktop, and there’s this race in the trendy tech market to see how much you can do with the most tech savvy hardware and screens. It’s so nice to have a device that allows me to completely dive into a reading experience like nothing other, and lets me check email in a snap, and with a flick of my finger go right back to where I left off reading– all without too much technology hounding me to play with it. Games, apps, apps , oh did I mention apps? How about video more clear than reality, and can I please have it be a ruler, a scale, and can it work as toilet paper? Wild how we humans respond to programming by the market trends.

    • Baseballmom1

      03/30/2012 at 8:38 am

      Thank you.  I have been debating the nook tablet vs. iPad 3 generation.  I love my original nook for reading and just want something that I can access my email, internet, etc. easier than my phone.  I’m thinking that iPad is much more than I need and that the nook Tablet will suffice just fine.  thank you!

  2. loragreen

    07/08/2012 at 7:21 pm

    THANK YOU so much for your review it really helped me figure out what i needed … the tablet is on my money range and exactly what i need …:)

  3. Dawn K.

    07/22/2012 at 7:31 am

    This is a great review. I own both the Nook tablet and the 3rd gen iPad. The Nook tablet does have an excellent e-reader functionality. Netflix looks great on the Nook tablet and the Nook is very light and portable. I too used to think the iPad was too much for me because I’m not into games, watching movies on my iPad or listening to a lot of music. I really wanted to replace my lap top which is why I bought the iPad. If you’re looking for something that can essentially replace a computer, the iPad is probably the better choice. You can even print from an iPad if you have a compatible printer. Web surfing is lightening-fast, the resolution is amazing and the apps available are really cool. The e-reading capability is good too. The iPad is a bit heavier like the review indicated but it’s not really a big issue. I bought a case for it that makes carrying it easier. And even though it’s considerably bigger than the Nook tablet, it’s not so big that it gets in the way or you can’t use it in a tight space. You can. The Nook tablet is great if all you want it for is reading-but in that case you could just get a regular Nook and not the tablet. I always had problems with e-mail with my Nook tablet and surfing the web can be rather slow at times. If you’re an occasional e-mail checker and may want something to surf the web on occasion, the Nook tablet is a good choice. It’s also really great for kids on long trips because of Netflix, games and the children’s books. The iPad would probably be a bit too heavy for a child to hold for any extended period of time.

    • Melissa Brown

      08/05/2012 at 7:08 am

      thank u u help me decode I own an iPad and a kook simple touch with glow light I was considering buy nook tablet for portability but I think I just keep the money and buy clothes

  4. Melissa Brown

    08/05/2012 at 7:12 am

    Thank you I was debating on buying the nook color but I own a iPad and simple touch glow light. I think I will just keep the money I get my magazines on iPad and email only wanted cause smaller but iPad appears superior in the things I use and really I only interested in reading no on LCD

  5. Laura

    09/17/2012 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for this positive reply. I am a book lover and just like you said wanted to check email from time to time and go right back to reading. I am purchasing the nook tablet. Thanks again!!

  6. jamii

    02/28/2013 at 3:37 am

    I have both a nook tablet and an ipad, the ipad is definitely better for surfing the Internet, watching movies, playing, games, etc. but I prefer the nook for reading, because of its smaller size. It’s very portable too, and I’m not as scared it’ll get stolen as I am with the ipad, so I take it everywhere. The screen isn’t as good as an iPads, but it is still quite nice.

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