Yes, we can now call them tablets now without wincing. Barnes and Noble nulled out one of the biggest complaints consumers had about their Nook HD tablet/reader line, by announcing today that the Google Play store will now be made available on their Nook HD tablet devices. Nook HD users will now have access to the full breadth of Android apps, pushing the number of available apps to 700,000+, and putting it far beyond Amazon’s market of 50,000 apps. Nook HD users will have access to all of the Google Play apps, music, movies, games, and yes, even e-books. Barnes & Noble reps said that the Nook Store would continue to coexist side-by-side with the Google Play store and users will be able to import their bookmarks from the Nook’s old browser to the new Chrome browser. The free software update, which also includes the Chrome Web browser, doesn’t turn the company’s tablets into true “open” Android devices, but it does make them much more open than they were. It will be available today to download from bn.com and will be rolled out to devices in the coming days via an over-the-air Wi-Fi update.
When it comes to hardware and pricing, the Kindle Fire HD 7 and 8.9 are comparable to the Nook HD and HD+. The $199 base Kindle Fire HD has double the storage of the base Nook HD, but Nook makes up for it by including microSD support with its tablets. In addition, Nook HD devices have slightly better displays.