On Monday, Barnes & Noble unveiled its new 7-inch Nook Tablet, just in time to go head-to-head with the Amazon Fire for the holiday season. A few commentators are preemptively calling the Tablet — which weighs in at less than a pound and boasts some "excellent" specs — "better" than the Kindle Fire. Will Amazon have its hands full?

B&N's effort sure is powerful: While the $249 Nook Tablet doesn't look "radically different" than its predecessor, the Nook Color, "its guts more closely resemble an iPad 2's," writes Tim Marcody at Wired. Somehow, B&N managed to fit in a 1.2 GHz processor, 16 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM, "packing twice as much more memory and storage" than Amazon's yet-to-be-released tablet. In fact, specs like those put its insides on par with the current (and more expensive) market leader: Apple's $499 iPad.
"Nook Fires Back: Tablet & E-Reader Family Aims at Amazon and More"

But let's not get our hopes up: Even though the Nook Tablet boasts some great hardware and partnerships, the user interface leaves something to be desired, says Adrian Covert at Gizmodo. "I've seen lesser spec'd devices with more polish." The interface was noticeably sluggish and "web pages…panned and zoomed with the [imperfect] fluidity of a first generation Android" tablet. Bottom line: "I was hardly wowed."
"Nook tablet: It's like the Nook Color on Speed"

It looks (and feels) great, though: "Design-wise," the ultra-lightweight Tablet is impressive, says Joanna Stern at The Verge. It's "one of the best-feeling devices out there" with a "comfortable," rubber-like backing and a signature hook on one corner that "gives it some pizazz." Its display brightness and viewing angles? "Surprisingly nice." 
"Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet: Pictures, video, and hands-on impressions"

But its higher price might hurt it: "Unfortunately, the improved specs of the Nook Tablet come at a $50 premium over the $199 Kindle Fire," says Donald Bell at CNET. While Barnes & Noble secured partnerships with video services like Hulu Plus and Netflix, their new device doesn't have the Fire's "big advantage": Amazon Prime, which allows users to stream on-demand movies and TV shows, borrow eBooks for free, and enjoy free two-day shipping on all Amazon products.
"Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet"