Samsung and Barnes & Noble announced on Thursday a co-branded device called the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a 7-inch reading-focused tablet designed to compete with the Kindle Fire HDX and the Nexus 7. It's the first sign of life in some time for the Nook brand, the lineup of ebook readers and tablets that have been consistently great but never popular enough to unseat Amazon as king of the reading device. Now, however, with the combined retail and marketing weight of Samsung and Barnes & Noble, the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook may have the might to find a place once again. (And there's only the slightest irony in the fact that Microsoft owns part of the Nook brand, meaning it now owns yet another Android device.)
For Barnes & Noble, it's a chance to keep Nook alive while offloading the hardware production to a better-equipped company so that it will focus on books and content. For Samsung, Nook appears to be essentially a branding exercise, a chance to get its devices in front of die-hard readers at Barnes & Noble's many stores and on its website. The Tab 4 has a 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display in a 9.74-ounce body, and runs Android 4.4 with Samsung's many customizations. It's a simple, cheap Android tablet — Samsung sells it for $199, but it's not clear what the co-branded model will cost — now with Nook software pre-installed. It won't send Amazon running for cover, but it's the Nook's best shot in a long time.