2010 was supposed to be the year of the tablet. Then 2011. But it looks like 2012 might just live up to the billing. The Nook HD & HD+ ($200-$300) are the latest slates to be announced this fall, offering 7- and 9-inch HD displays, 1.3- and 1.5-GHz dual-core processors, 1GB of RAM, and between 8GB and 32GB of onboard storage. Of course, they also offer full access to Barnes & Noble's catalog of books, magazines, apps, and videos, and as a bonus, they offer a new Nook Profiles feature that lets you easily share your tablet with others without fear of them accessing personal content.
You didn't think Amazon was going to update its old-school Kindles and leave its tablets alone, did you? The Kindle Fire HD ($200-$600) offers a range of sizes and features for Prime-oriented slate shoppers. At the low end, we have an upgraded version of last year's 7-incher, with a new non-Playbook-y design, 1280x800 display, Dolby audio with stereo speakers, dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, a dual-core processor, 16GB of storage, and an upgraded software experience. Moving up the line, you'll find a new 8.9-inch version, packing the same features along with a 1920x1200 screen, and at the high end, you'll find that same, larger model with 64GB of storage and LTE networking. Something tells us there's going to be a lot of tablet unwrapping going on this holiday season.
What's our biggest beef with the Kindle? Same thing it was on day one: the lack of a backlight. The Kindle Paperwhite ($120-$180) is here to change all that. It's based on an all-new touch display tech that offers 25% more contrast and 62% more pixels — 212 ppi, for the resolution geeks out there — and uses a patented light guide to spread LED light across the surface just like ambient light. Other features include a 9mm, 7.5 oz. body, 8-week battery life, a refreshingly dark paint scheme, and optional free 3G wireless networking. Arriving in October.