Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) has been widely expected to reveal a new tablet at an event to be held in New York next Monday, and now we are starting to see some more proof of it. It will be going head to head with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, but laying on more memory, storage — and potentially a different mix of content — for a price of $249. Perhaps most importantly, the sub-$300 pricetag for the product demonstrates how the needle continues to move to the left for the tablet category — a trend that will inevitably see penetration ramp up, and those vendors making more pricey devices (all except gold-standard iPad, that is) get increasingly left out in the cold with consumers.
The leaked details — first picked up by Engadget and Slashgear (latter’s picture illustrated here) — show the new Nook tablet to look and perform a lot like the Nook Color e-reader that is already on the market. (The Nook Color’s price will drop to $199.)
Like the Nook Color and the Kindle Fire, this device will connect only via WiFi. It will however feature enhanced memory and storage — respectively 1GB and 16GB built in, with room to expand the latter.
And it looks as though the Nook tablet it will also feature a significantly larger line-up of content that can be used with it: among the names mention in the promotional material leaked yesterday are Hulu Plus and Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) (previously only usable if you rooted the device) along with music services Rhapsody, MOG, Grooveshark and Pandora (NYSE: P). Among the enhanced reading content are Real Simple and The New Yorker.
We previously mentioned a report that Barnes & Noble could be teaming up with GameSpot with this device and bumping up the gaming content — as well as its retail distribution, but there is nothing about this in the details leaked this week.
Nor are there any insights into specific areas of content such as enhanced children’s content. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is launching the Fire with a catalog of 1,000 children’s e-books, which is bound to grow quickly, given how sticky tablets have proven to be with children and tech-savvy parents.
Barnes & Noble has steadily been building up the catalog of apps that it offers on its devices — signing a deal with the developer platform Appcelerator to promote the Nook APIs — and so that should be a boost to the device as well.
Putting all this into a device with a price under $300 will put further pressure on those Android device makers pushing tablets that are retailing for significantly more this holiday season. Whether that could impact premium devices on other platforms — specifically the iPad — will remain to be seen.
Meanwhile, the e-reader price wars continue: It also appears that Barnes & Noble is planning to drop the price of its Nook Simple Touch e-reader to $99 on Monday, from $139. “No annoying ads,” read the leaked sales materials, in a reference to the ad-supported Kindle with Special Offers.