After Google recently shook up the 7-inch tablet space with its well-received Nexus 7, much of the speculation has focused on rumors that Amazon and Apple would soon introduce new "mini" tablets.
Now we're getting word from a credible source that Barnes & Noble, a 7-inch pioneer with its Nook Color and Nook Tablet, is set to bring out out a new 7-inch model that features "revolutionary screen technology."
The source, who's proven reliable in the past, wouldn't elaborate on the specifics of that technology but said that it was developed in-house by Barnes & Noble (with the help of "another company") and had not been seen in another product before.
It's unclear whether the new tablet will be any thinner, but the source indicated that it would be lighter.
The source said Barnes & Noble will continue to focus on the "reading experience," adding new features related to that mission, but the Nook Store would also be expanded with additional media options, including some not seen before on a tablet. The source couldn't tell us specifically what those options were, but given that the Nook lacks the sort of dedicated music and video store found on the Nexus 7 (Google Play) and Kindle Fire (Amazon video and music), that seems like an obvious avenue for an updated Nook.
It's quite possible that the new Nook Tablet will have a Microsoft tie-in, perhaps even an Xbox Live option for movies and music, but our source indicated that the new Nook Tablet will continue to run on a heavily skinned version of Android, not Windows 8.
Some media outlets such as TechCrunch had predicted that with Microsoft's recent investment in Barnes & Noble, the next Nook Tablet would add "Xbox Live streaming capabilities." However, the Nook/Microsoft Tablet that TechCrunch said would materialize at Microsoft's press conference last month turned out to be Microsoft's Surface tablet.
No word on pricing or exact availability, but the late September/October time frame seems likely, and if the past is any indication, Barnes & Noble will match Amazon's price for the next-generation Kindle Fire, which is expected to start at around $200.