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Surprise! I composed and edited this column on a brand-new Nook HD+.

I wound up with the Nook HD+ by accident; not by design. I was out doing some Christmas shopping and happened to be in the same shopping center as a Barnes & Noble store where I had previously bought (a) the original Nook e-reader, (b) a Nook Color for my wife, (c) the first (7″) Nook Tablet for my daughter’s Christmas present last year, and (d) a Nook Simple Touch to replace my original Nook Reader when it lost its mind earlier this year.

So it’s a bit of an understatement when I say I have some experience with Nook products! And I was intrigued with the positive press coverage I’d been reading about the new Nook tablets. In case you missed the memo, there are two new models – the Nook HD with its 7″ screen (1440×900 pixels resolution, or 243 pixels per inch) and the Nook HD+, which sports a 9″ screen (1920×1080 resolution, or 256 pixels per inch).

The Nook HD+ has a 9″ screen with 1920×1080 resolution.

I’ve been quite happy with my Nook readers, and continue to give the Simple Touch (with Glowlight) heavy use. What drew me into the store this time was the notion that perhaps I could finally put together an ultraportable, compact PC system for business trips – one that would not only allow me to read books and watch movies while traveling, but also (a) compose and edit Word documents, (b) create and play back Powerpoint presentations, and (c) create trade show and meeting schedules in Excel and be able to read them “on the fly” with a screen large enough to see easily, but small enough to carry around with me.

The Nook HD+ succeeds on all counts. It comes loaded with the Android operating system and runs from a 1.5 GHz OMAP4470 Dual-Core CPU. The basic HD+ comes with 16 GB of internal memory for $269 (the 32 GB version is $30 more), and you can add memory via a Micro SD card slot. It measures 9.5″ x 6.4,” is just half an inch thick, and weighs just over a pound.

I opted to buy a 32 GB SanDisk MicroSD card from Staples for $20, which is where I also picked up a Targus AKB33US Bluetooth keyboard ($60) and Microsoft Wedge Bluetooth mouse ($70). Both Bluetooth devices connected quickly and easily to the HD+.

Next, I browsed through the Android store and purchased a copy of OfficeSuite for $15. This program will display and play back any of these file types and also let you create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in formats compatible with Office 2010 and earlier versions.

I’m intrigued by the idea of using the Nook HD+ to play back Powerpoints at conferences and leaving my 3-year-old Toshiba Satellite notebook at home. To do that, I needed one more accessory – a display adapter cable, which B&N sells as the HD Adapter Kit. It’s basically a pass-through dongle with an HDMI jack and a six-foot connecting cable.

Here’s the final configuration, using the Targus keyboard and Microsoft Wedge mouse.

So, what did I wind up with after laying out $419, plus tax? An amazingly compact but versatile computing system I can take anywhere. No, it doesn’t have a hard drive or an optical drive. And there aren’t any USB ports (yet). But I do carry a SD-to-Micro SD adapter card for moving files back and forth, which is good enough for now. (Maybe B&N will come out with the appropriate interface cable if there’s enough demand. )

After playing with the Nook HD+ for a few hours (and composing this column), it’s clear to me now why ultrabooks haven’t been able to get a lot of traction, even after their splashy debut at last year’s CES. You just don’t need a notebook computer to go on the road nowadays.

What you do need is a fast CPU, lots of memory, high resolution, a sensitive touch screen, and some way to save and load files. (Oh, and get email, too. The Nook HD+ does that quite nicely and sets up multiple email accounts with minimal bother.)

The fact that these products were originally designed to read books just two years ago remains mind-boggling. And it shows you that there’s still plenty of room to push the envelope with tablet computers. (I’m looking forward to the first wireless display adapter for the Nook tablets!)


This story appears on the Display Daily Web site.

Posted by Pete Putman, December 21, 2012 2:50 PM

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About Pete Putman

Peter Putman is the president of ROAM Consulting L.L.C. His company provides training, marketing communications, and product testing/development services to manufacturers, dealers, and end-users of displays, display interfaces, and related products.

Pete edits and publishes HDTVexpert.com, a Web blog focused on digital TV, HDTV, and display technologies. He is also a columnist for Pro AV magazine, the leading trade publication for commercial AV systems integrators.