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Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung for latest iPad-competing Nook tablet

Though Barnes & Noble no longer makes its own tablets, it's still in the hardware business with a brand-new $179 Nook intended to take on the iPad, this time with a model built by Apple's chief rival, Samsung.

The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook was officially announced by the bookseller on Wednesday, pitched as a full Android tablet that can also serve as a suitable e-reader. The device targets Apple's iPad mini in the low end of the tablet market, with a 7-inch display and $179 starting price after $20 instant rebate.

The Nook is now available in more than 660 Barnes & Noble stores, as well as through the company's website. It weighs in at 0.6 pounds, slightly undercutting Apple's 0.69-pound iPad mini but with a smaller diagonal display size.

The Galaxy Tab-branded Nook is also 0.35 inches thick, measuring slightly thicker than the iPad mini with Retina display, which measures 0.29 inches. It also has a 1.3-megapixel front camera, 3-megapixel rear camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS support, and comes with 8 gigabytes of storage.

The 7-inch display has a screen resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, and it's powered by a 1.2-gigahertz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The Galaxy Tab 4 Nook runs Android 4.4 KitKat, but features the Barnes & Noble Nook store rather than Google Play or Samsung Hub.

Other aspects of Android have been customized, much like previous Nook tablets, including the Nook Library widget on the home screen, displaying recently read titles and new recommended books.

Barnes & Noble is also offering more than $200 worth of free content with new purchases, including popular titles like "Freakonomics," single episodes of shows like HBO's "Veep," and 14-day free trial subscriptions to a range of magazines including "Sports Illustrated." Complimentary content will continue to be made available on an ongoing basis through Barnes & Noble's "Free Fridays" program, offering Nook books, videos or apps every week.

Barnes & Noble entered the hardware business in 2011 with the launch of its first Nook, which was a black-and-white e-reader designed to compete with Amazon's popular book-focused Kindle. But as the iPad began to chip away at traditional e-reader sales, the company released a full color touchscreen tablet in 2012 dubbed the Nook HD+.

Barnes & Noble's stint in the hardware-making business proved short-lived, however, as the company announced in 2013 that it would no longer design and build its own Nook tablets. Instead, going forward it will partner with established hardware makers to sell Nook-branded devices at its stores.