Everything I write is carefully considered, reviewed and revised before it goes online, as a result the arguments and points I make in this space tend to be ones that survive the passage of time.
But today I’m revising my August opinion that Barnes & Noble have nothing “really big” to help them win over UK consumers. They do, it’s called the NOOK HD and I was lucky enough to be granted a look and some hands-on time earlier this week.
I saw the HD alongside its sister devices during a one-to-one briefing with some visiting Barnes & Noble executives. Given I’d previously trashed their UK entrance strategy, they were remarkably generous with their time and answers, but they were even more proud of the HD and deservedly so.
Available in 7” and 9” versions, the NOOK HD is a beautiful looking Android tablet that easily holds its own against Apple’s iPad and could well establish itself as THE best Android device on the market.
I got a chance to compare it against several rivals including Google’s Nexus and a Kindle Fire and came away impressed at its superior build quality and finish.
The screen on both HD models is gloriously vibrant, offering far brighter and deeper colours then the rival Android devices, a feature that makes it ideal for media consumption. They also support user profiles, making the HD perfect for couples and families who want to share a single device.
And despite all these pluses, the NOOK HD will set you back half the cost of an iPad AND, as Barnes & Noble were keen to point out, you won’t have to pay an additional fee to switch off adverts.
As well as being treated to a look at the HD, I’ve also been loaned a NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, a ‘traditional’ e-ink device that includes a lit screen to allow nighttime reading without the need for a separate light.
I’ll share fuller thoughts on the GlowLight in the coming weeks but so far I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. While I’m one of those awkward types who don’t find the iPad too bright or heavy to read with in bed, I can see that whole armies of readers are going to fall in love with the GlowLight.
In my August piece I poured scorn on the idea of selling the NOOK family alongside Amazon and Kobo’s products. but given the quality of what I’ve seen, I better understand why the company are happy to let customers see competing devices next to theirs.
Will the NOOK do well in the UK? Well, if Barnes & Noble can ignite a flame of optimism in a cynic like me they certainly stand a good chance of exciting shoppers.
The key to realising that opportunity will be creating a compelling in-store retail experience with plenty of hands-on time for potential buyers and helpful, knowledgable product advocates.
Some UK shoppers will question whether partnering with Currys and PCWorld is the best way of achieving that, but in my talk with Barnes & Noble I detected a genuine commitment to good customer service that should help win over enough customers to become a major UK player.