Teardown details innards of new Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble calls its just-released Nook Tablet a "media device" for reading electronic books and magazines, and streaming audio and video. There's now one less Nook after the screwdriver crew at iFixit.com dissembled one.

The tear-down highlights similarities and differences with arch-rival Amazon's just-released Kindle Fire.

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The Nook is a 7-inch tablet, weighing 14.1 ounces. It features a 1024 x 600 touch screen. It has a hefty 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB of internal storage and a 32GB expandable SD card. It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP4 chip. It has a 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi radio. The custom operating system is based on Google's Android firmware.

The Nook Tablet is priced at $249, and the more-than-just-books seller dropped the price of the first Nook, the Nook Color, to $199.

(The original Color was well-reviewed for Network World by Howard Wen in June. The Nook Tablet adds two of the three improvements he suggested: a faster CPU, and streaming media support. Still missing: a 3G wireless option.)

The first thing the iFixit crew found: The Nook is a lot harder to get into than the Kindle Fire, which doesn't bode well for the intrepid band of do-it-yourself repairistas. "Anyone wanting to embark on this adventure will need to gear up with both metal and plastic spudgers, plastic opening tools, a Torx T5 screwdriver, and an extra ounce of patience," writes Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's director of technical communication. "Loads of adhesive, a fair number of screws, and a perplexing internal design guarantees some frustrating situations."

The full teardown is online.

Among the highlight of iFixit's Nook Tablet dissection:

* The microSD slot is under a magnetic cover next to the carabiner clip; two small circles flanking it turn out to hold "insidious screws that will hamper your disassembly efforts."

* Though it looks thinner than the Kindle Fire, Djuric says, the Nook Tablet at 0.45 inches is a smidgin 0.03 inches thicker.

* RAM for the TI processor is supplied by a Hynix chip, the H9TKNNN8P, with 1GB DDR2 RAM, compared to 512MB for the Kindle Fire (and the Apple iPad 2).

* Power, for an advertised 11.5 hours, comes from the 3.7-volt 4000 mAh battery; Kindle Fire has an eight-hour battery life, according to iFixit.

* Other components: SanDisk SDIN5C1-16G 16GB Flash Memory; fully integrated power management integrate circuit from TI; TI's AIC3100 low-power audio codec; FocalTech FT5406EE8 Capacitive Touch Panel Controller.

Microsoft previously sued Barnes & Noble, charging its use of Android violated a range of Microsoft patents. Barnes & Noble has counter-attacked, claiming the patents are trivial and Microsoft is trying to control Android's development. (Alan Shimel, who writes NW's Open Source Fact and Fiction blog, has a recent post critical of Microsoft's actions.)

Reviews for the Kindle Fire have been "less than glowing," according to our roundup of industry reactions. The Fire compared poorly to the larger-screened iPad; some thought it was a knockoff of RIM's poorly received PlayBook tablet. For many reviewers, its strongest feature was its comparatively cheap price of $199.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: john_cox@nww.com Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed

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