Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barnes & Noble to unveil two new Android tablets

All indications point to giant Internet retailer Amazon.com introducing its much-hyped Android tablet on Sept. 28. It looks, however, like rival Barnes & Noble might be out to steal Amazon.com's thunder.

Barnes & Noble already has an Android tablet, but it's sold as an e-book reader, one that has access to some Android apps, but not the overall, general Android Market. That said, the NOOK color has been rooted and custom ROMs have been created to "fix" that problem, making it a pretty inexpensive, yet high-quality Android tablet.

Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog, basing his info off a slide from a company presentation, reported on Friday that B&N will debut two new Android tablet / e-reader models in October, a $249 model called Encore (similar to the current NOOK Color) and a $349 model dubbed Acclaim.

Hoffelder also suggested that the $349 tablet could end up being GameStop's tablet, as well. You'll recall, however, that earlier we reported that GameStop was about to start selling a branded Android tablet, but not one of its own making. Instead, GameStop said it had chosen an existing Android tablet. That said, existing could also mean a new B&N tablet.

After all, for a time B&N owned GameStop. GameStop was spun off into its own company in 2004. Whatever the case, the GameStop tablet will come pre-loaded with games, as it will be a gaming tablet.

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So there is circumstantial evidence that the GameStop tablet and B&N $349 tablet could be one and the same. However, a $100 difference between the Encore and Acclaim would seem to be too little to differentiate a high-powered gaming tablet from a standard tablet.

It's unclear, as well, what version of Android these tablets will carry. B&N's current tablet doesn't sport Honeycomb (except when rooted and carrying a custom ROM).

Meanwhile, Amazon.com's tablet is expected to be 7-inches and wear a forked version of Android, from pre-Froyo days, which ought to be interesting, and not in a good day. We'll find out more after Wednesday's press event.

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