- Great build
- Decent display
- B&N software genuinely useful
- Mediocre performance
- So-so battery life
- Short on on-board storage capacity
Quick TakeThe Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is good, but suited best for those already invested in B&N content. However, there are other great options from Asus and Lenovo for those just looking for a low-cost Android tablet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is both a name and a description. It’s the same Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 that we lauded for its “price to performance ratio,” topped with a modest Barnes & Noble Nook overlay. In a hands-on preview at the launch event in August, we thought that boded well for the $180 Android tablet, particularly because it offered both B&N and Google’s content and apps.
Does that claim still hold water after a full evaluation and a week spend reading and watching on the 7-inch device? Let’s find out.
Build and Design
It’s hard to imagine a more apt representation of a 7-inch tablet. Strip the Samsung branding and this could double as a picture in the dictionary. That’s not a bad thing, and it makes for a functional and practical device.
There are a handful of Samsung flourishes that previous Galaxy tablet and smartphone owners will recognize, including a physical home button on the center bottom bezel, in between back and “all apps” softkeys. A front facing 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter rests on the top bezel, just to the right of some Samsung branding.
The edges are slightly tapered from the back, but flatten out to provide a comfortable grip. The right side houses a microSD card slot, IR blaster, volume rocker, power button, and microphone hole, while the left side is bare.
The top and bottom of the tablet house a 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB charging input, respectively.
A 3-megapixel camera sits centered on the top of the back panel, while a small speaker grill sits on the bottom right corner. Thankfully, Samsung eschewed its faux-leather material and artificial stitching decoration on the back panel for textured plastic. Samsung did find a spot to include its logo, however. Interestingly, B&N did not. From the outside, it’s impossible to distinguish the Tab 4 Nook from the Tab 4.
The tablet measures 7.36 x 4.25 x 0.35 inches, and weighs 0.6 pounds, making it comfortable for extended and on-handed use. The plastic build is also pleasant to the touch, and handles resists dirt, smudges, and scratches well. Overall, it feels solid in hand, and doesn’t creek or flex under moderate strain. It could likely survive a trip stuffed in a backpack or purse, and maybe even a few drops. This is a well-built tablet.
This 7-inch LCD display has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which results in about 216 pixels per inch. That’s low by today’s standards. The larger, and more expensive, iPad mini with Retina display has a ppi count of 326, while the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX has a ppi count of 323.
That said, this is a case of good versus great. While users would notice the difference between in display quality compared side by side, it’s tough to complain about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook’s output. Colors are vibrant, text appears sharp, and viewing angles are superb. Brightness levels are more than acceptable for indoor use, but glare from the sun is an absolute killer. While it’s possible to read outdoors on a cloudless day, it’s not comfortable at all. This is really the case with any and all LCD tablets, iPad included.
The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook excels with colorful and multimedia content. That includes movies, TV shows, comic books, and children’s books, whether from the Barnes & Noble library, Google Play, Netflix, comiXology, WWE Network, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and dozens of other subscription/streaming/download apps.
While reading text-heavy books and novels on the Tab 4 Nook is a generally pleasant experience in proper lighting, the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook pales in comparison to any of the traditional Nook eReaders – or any eReader, really. E Ink is by far the best display technology for straight reading, and looks great even with the sun beating down. Those invested heavily in B&N’s book offerings that just want to read should go with the cheaper Nook Glowlight and save $60.