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Review: Barnes and Noble Nook 9-Inch Lenovo Tablet

Barnes and Noble’s cheap new e-reader can also work as a basic, bare-bones tablet.
Left to right striped cat curiously approaching the camera tablet with app icons on the screen and tablet with cover of...
Photograph: Medea Giordano; Getty Images

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Rating:

6/10

WIRED
Affordable. Works with Google Play. Has an actual headphone jack. Solid battery life.
TIRED
Ships with old version of Android. Not for complicated work or crystal clear video output.

We like e-readers because they're easy on the eyes and relatively simple, with one use case: reading. The Nook, which is made by Barnes and Noble, has been a solid e-reader option since 2009, and the brand has released several traditional tablets along the way. This year, it updated its tablet made in collaboration with Lenovo.

Though it's branded a Nook, it's not quite an e-reader. You can read on it—it comes with the Nook app loaded—but it's the 2024 version of the Tab M9 running Android 13, so it's a tablet first. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Given the relatively cheap $150 price, it means you or your kid can get a pretty decent tablet without spending hundreds.

Reading Room

Photograph: Medea Giordano

The 9-inch, 1,340 x 800 display is small enough that you could throw it in a purse, but you could still comfortably stream your favorite shows while traveling or walking on a treadmill. This isn't the most intense display you can find in a tablet, but I still watched clear YouTube videos at 1080p, and with Dolby Atmos, they sounded clear too.

There's an actual headphone jack (hallelujah!), or you can connect Bluetooth headphones for listening to music or audiobooks. If you're set on seeing the richest colors and intense contrast, you probably want something better, but you're also probably not trying to find a tablet in this price range.

It comes with 64 gigabytes of storage for all your books and apps, or you could add your own microSD card to expand it to 128 gigs. You'll get up to 13 hours of battery life, but expect a few hours less if you're mostly streaming video.

While in the Nook app, you may want to turn on reading mode in either chromatic for color books to lower the color temperature or grayscale to make the screen black-and-white. But this is still an LCD screen, so it's not as easy on the eyes as a dedicated e-reader. One thing I don't like about the Nook app is that swiping through pages is similar to how you swipe to close out of an app, so I frequently found myself on the home screen instead of the next page.

The tablet has a notification-free mode that you can set up for any apps you choose, and I would suggest adding the Nook app to that list. E-readers are nice because they're distraction-free, so turning off notifications helps get this focused feeling back.

Photograph: Medea Giordano

This Nook 9 tablet is comparable to Amazon's Fire tablets, which are the tablets that we typically recommend if you don't want to spend a lot. They're not the fastest nor the most powerful, but they're affordable and work well for what they are. Our current favorite, the Fire HD 10, is an inch larger than the Nook for $10 less, at $140.

But Amazon's flaw could make the Nook Lenovo tablet a viable competitor: Fire tablets don't get access to all the apps you'd find on Google Play (although there is a workaround). On the Nook, Google Play comes preloaded, so you can download pretty much any app you'd download anywhere else. Play games, scroll on TikTok, follow a workout app, and also work in Google Drive or take meetings on Google Meet. Connect a Bluetooth keyboard to comfortably type in Google Docs—I tried it with the Logitech Casa Pop-Up Desk.

It doesn't have quite enough horsepower to edit photos, but it has the basics covered. I played Roblox, and despite having no idea what I was doing, it ran relatively smoothly and quickly, with a few quick but noticeable lags.

Cheap but Workable

Photos taken with the Nook tablet's back (top) and front (bottom) cameras.Photograph: Medea Giordano

The Nook 9 has an 8-megapixel back camera and 2-megapixel front camera. These are not stellar, but with the right lighting I did manage to get a few decent shots of my cat Huxley. For a cheap tablet, these are totally fine.

The 2024 Nook Lenovo tablet is an inch smaller than the old one and $20 more. It also ships with Android 13, even though Android 14 was released in 2023. That's disappointing, and we asked the company if users can expect an update soon.

I don't have an iPad and don't want to spend the money on one, but I have been wanting a tablet for those moments when I want something bigger than my phone. I'm not going to be working heavily on it or playing intense games, so this is more than enough for my needs. If you too want an e-reader that can fulfill a few more basic functions, like watching movies, playing simple games, or following a cookbook recipe, this isn't a bad buy for the money.