The Apple iPad remains one of the most popular tablets available on the market. However, a number of lower-priced competitors have arrived on the scene. While many of the iPad competitors are full-fledged tablet computers, one of the most popular alternatives is Barnes & Noble's Nook Color. While it is billed as an e-reader, the Nook Color offers many of the same functions as an iPad.
Screen and Dimensions
The third-generation iPad offers a 9.7-inch screen with a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels and a 4:3 aspect ratio. The Nook Color's screen measures 7 inches diagonally and has a high-definition 16:9 aspect ratio with a resolution of 1024-by-600 pixels. Because of its smaller screen, it is 8.1 inches by 5 inches overall, compared with the iPad's 9.50-by-7.31-inch dimensions.
Connectivity, Input and Outputs
Both the Nook Color and the iPad support Wi-Fi, although some iPad models offer optional support for cellular data networks. Both have headphone jacks and a connector for data transfers. While the iPad has two cameras and a built-in microphone, the Nook Color has no built-in way to allow you to capture audio or video.
Processor and Memory
Apple builds the iPad with a dual-core processor running at 1 GHz with 1GB of RAM. The Nook Color has 512MB of RAM and a single-core processor running at 800 MHz. The iPad comes with preinstalled software in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes. Nooks come with 8GB of memory, most of which is earmarked for storing content downloaded from the Barnes & Noble Nook store. You can add a MicroSD Flash card with up to 32GB of memory to the Nook to hold your own content.
Both devices support a wide range of file types. You can download images, audio files, video files and documents from word processors, spreadsheets and presentation programs. Of the two, only the Nook supports the Flash video format both in its video viewer and through its Web browser. Both devices support e-books as PDFs, but only the iPad supports books from Apple's iBooks Store. Thanks to the Nook app, both the Nook and the iPad can display Nook e-books.
The iPad runs Apple's iOS operating system and has its full complement of preloaded software. The Nook Color runs a customized version of the Android operating system that comes with Adobe Flash, Pandora Radio and a few games preloaded. While the Nook Store offers a subset of the full range of apps available in the Google Play Store, the iPad accesses all the content in Apple's App Store.
As of September of 2012, the Nook Color is significantly less expensive than the iPad. Barnes & Noble sells the Nook Color for less than one-third the cost of the least expensive iPad -- a 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model.
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