I suppose the writing was on the tablet. Back in May, ostensibly in honor of Mother's Day, Barnes & Noble whipped out some pretty hefty discounts on its Nook HD and Nook HD+.
Then, earlier this month, the cuts went even deeper for Father's Day, with the 7-inch and 8.9-inch slates selling for $129 and $149, respectively. But even after the holiday came and went, the discounted prices remained -- and now we know why: B&N is getting out of the color-tablet business.
Bummer. The company produced good hardware from the get-go, and although this was probably the inevitable outcome of competition from the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google, I'll miss the Nooks' sleek designs, high-def displays, and expansion-friendly microSD slots (a feature that has so far eluded each of the aforementioned competitors). R.I.P., color Nooks.
Of course, bargain hunters are now left with the inevitable question, Does it still make sense to buy a Nook HD? I'm not going to beat around the bush with this one: hell, yes, it makes sense!
In case you missed those numbers up top, the 7-inch Nook HD is currently priced at $129; the 8.9-inch Nook HD+, at $149. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD runs $199, while the Fire HD 8.9 will set you back $269. (Which is the better 7-inch model? Look no further than CNET's Nook HD vs. Kindle Fire HD Prizefight. Spoiler: The Nook takes it.)
The real question is whether to buy now or wait and see if B&N drops the prices even further. It's a good bet that at least some of these newly discounted Nooks will get returned (for whatever reason), meaning in a month or two we could see the refurbished Nook HD selling for $99, or even $79. Meanwhile, the Nook HD+ could drop to $129 or even $99. (That kind of thinking makes me swoon with Cheapskate-y glee.)
Concerned about the future? Don't be. In hindsight, B&N's recent addition of Google Play access was an early reassurance to users that their Nooks would continue to be highly functional for years to come. And you can always root the tablets to run a "purer" version of the Android OS.
If you're worried about the accessory market drying up, just buy a case and a couple of spare power cords now and you're all set.
Needless to say, Amazon will probably unveil a new Kindle sometime this year, and we might see new iPads or Google Nexuses as well. But that doesn't change the fact that the Nook tablets are tremendous values. My advice: get one before they're gone.