Back in June Barnes & Noble announced that it would launch a co-branded Samsung tablet that would marry Samsung’s hardware with its Nook software. Well, that tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, is now shipping, and it’s exactly what what we imagined it would be.

Indeed, the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook hardware is identical to the existing 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4, which lists for $199 (but is widely available for $20 less). In fact, there’s not even any Barnes & Noble branding on the device, only on the box. The Nook version comes in white or black and is being offered for $179 after a $20 instant rebate in Barnes & Noble’s online and brick-and-mortar stores. At launch you also get what B&N says is $200 worth of free content, including three e-books, three TV episodes, a $5 Nook store credit for apps or movies, and some special offers for digital magazines.

The Galaxy Tab 4 7-inch is Samsung’s entry-level tablet, but it’s nicely designed and Barnes & Noble says it’s its thinnest Nook tablet offering yet, measuring 0.35 inches thick and weighing 9.74 ounces. It runs on a quad-core processor and has 8GB of built-in memory — about 5GB of that is usable — but its micro-SD expansion slot means you can add storage on the cheap (a 32GB card costs less than $20). Resolution is 1280 x 768, which is fine but actually a step below the resolution of Barnes & Noble’s last 7-inch model, the 2012 Nook HD tablet, which came in at 1,440×900.

Galaxy Tab 4 Nook’s user interface is where it departs from the stock Galaxy Tab 4. Instead, you get the Barnes & Noble skin that’s similar to that of previous Nook tablets. The idea here is that this remains a “reading” tablet, with your e-books and Barnes & Noble’s book recommendations and deals featured on the device’s home screen. You have quick access to your library, the last book you were reading and needless to say, Barnes & Noble’s e-book and app stores. As before, you can also set-up password-protected user profiles, so members of your family can have their own personalized content lockers.

Barnes & Noble has made some enhancements to the Nook interface and it also says its tweaked its store and improved its recommendation engine (I didn’t get a chance to test it out yet because a Barnes & Noble’s employee’s profile was on the device I looked at). While current Nook tablet owners might get those enhancements down the road, at this time Barnes & Noble reps had no plans for a software update for its legacy tablets, which will be phased out.

One of the key differences between Barnes & Noble’s tablets and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets is that you get full access to the Google Play store and the full suite of Google apps, including Google Maps (yes, there’s GPS and Bluetooth). That means you can load any Android app (the device runs on Android 4.4 KitKat), including the Kindle app. With this tablet, you also get access to Samsung Galaxy apps, so you can essentially choose between three different app environments, although Barnes & Noble would obviously prefer if you stuck to its app, e-book, and video stores.

Source: Cnet