Nook Tablet: What Nook Color tried to be

Barnes & Noble has unveiled the latest entry in its growing Nook family, and this one is a direct threat to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The debut came just one week before Amazon’s flagship full-color tablet is due to begin shipping, and that’s just the beginning of the similarities between the two products.

The Nook Tablet packs in a 7-inch display with 16 GB of storage and a 1 GHz dual-core processor. There’s also 1 GB of RAM and a custom version of Android 2.3 under the hood.

All these specs are generally on par with the Amazon Kindle Fire. It is, however, $50 more expensive, with a $250 price tag.

After competing in the niche dedicated e-reader space, Barnes & Noble and Amazon are now in a tablet war. The Nook Color was already essentially a tablet, especially after a fully functional version of Android was made available on it.

For Amazon, though, the Kindle has always been about reading and reading only. The Kindle Fire will be a completely different animal, so it will certainly be interesting to see how it fares against the competition when it comes to the tablet market.

Barnes & Noble’s ability to compete in the muddled market may be even more of a chore because the company does not have inroads in the digital entertainment mediums to the extent Amazon does.

Amazon will be able to offer services like Prime Instant Video, cloud storage, and a dedicated MP3 store, all things that B&N does not have. Nevertheless, the Nook has a dedicated audience, and expanding its reach could definitely increase the bookstore’s presence in the consumer electronics market.