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barnes-noble-nook-tabletBarnes & Noble has released its new $249 Nook Tablet today, following Amazon’s lead by unleashing its e-reader/tablet hybrid on the market a day early.

“Nook Tablet is the best wireless reading and entertainment tablet in the 7-inch class, and the customer response has been even greater than anticipated,” said Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch, in a statement. “At these super-low prices, Nook Tablet, Nook Color and the $99 Nook Simple Touch represent the highest-quality portfolio of reading and entertainment products on the market at the best value.”

The new $249 Nook Tablet is in a precarious position as it will fight head-to-head this holiday seasons with the much-hyped $199 Kindle Fire, which was released two days ago. Both tablets feature 7-inch screens with 1024-by-600 resolution and run a modified version of the Android operating system. But when it comes to design, content selection and apps, the two tablets differ greatly.

The Nook Tablet looks almost exactly like the now-$199 Nook Color, but it features better specs. Inside the Nook Tablet is a 1.3-GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (upgradeable to 48GB with an additional 32GB microSD card). By comparison, the Kindle Fire has a TI OMAP4 dual-core processor and 8GB of on-board storage (but it can tap Amazon’s cloud for additional storage).

Unfortunately, when it comes to media options on the Nook Tablet, Barnes & Noble isn’t as robust as Amazon, which sells movies, TV and music. Barnes & Noble doesn’t have an integrated digital music and video store, but the company said it is working to remedy that issue. For now, the Nook Tablet’s focus will be on e-books, color magazines, textbooks and Android apps.

Are you interested in picking up a Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire this holiday season?

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