Barnes & Noble execs just took the stage in New York (via The Verge) to unveil their next-generation Nook– The Nook Tablet. According to the company, it’s an “unrivaled portable content machine”, and execs made a point of comparing it to the Kindle Fire…

While the new Nook Tablet at first glance might look almost unchanged from the Nook Color, inside is a beefed up TI OMAP 4 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 7-inch 1024×600 LG-made IPS Vivid View display. It also packs in 16GB of onboard storage, expandable to 32GB via microSD, and supports 1080p video. Other notables include built-in WiFi, and a reported 9 hours (video playback) and 11.5 hours (reading) of battery life. Oh, and it weighs just 0.88 pounds. Unlike Amazon’s Kindle Fire, with these specs, the Nook Tablet might actually be considered a tablet competitor opposed to an e-reader on steroids.

The Nook Tablet also includes Read and Record functionality, allowing kids to “hear their parents or grandparents read to them when they can’t be there in person.” The company also talked apps for the device, while mentioning regular smartphone apps don’t run on the 7-inch tablet, execs showed off Angry Birds, Pandora, and noted Netflix and Hulu Plus will come preinstalled. You can also expect 250 interactive magazines and periodicals from Nook Newsstand, content storage via Nook Cloud, and the “largest digital collection of Marvel graphic novels” with Nook Comics.

B&N CEO William Lynch made a point of comparing the Nook Tablet to Amazon’s recently launched Kindle Fire, its obvious competitor in the mind of the press and public. His first point? The fully, laminated display with “unprecedented viewing angles”. He mentioned “The Kindle Fire is deficient for a media tablet,” while noting it only has 6GB of onboard storage. Lynch also notes the Nook Tablet has double the RAM of the Kindle Fire, which he points out matters when multitasking. And what about support for Kindle Fire (B&N offer in-store support):

“If you wanted to get support with the Fire, where would you go? Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle?”

The new Nook Tablet will be available for $249 starting next week at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, OfficeMax, Staples, RadioShack, and elsewhere. Of course, with the Nook Tablet taking the $249 price tag, the Nook Color will see a price drop to $199, while the Nook SimpleTouch e-ink reader will now go for $99. Both of those devices will also receive substantial software updates.

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