This week marks the launch of Barnes & Noble’s second-wave full-color media consumption slate, the Nook Tablet, and with a bumped-up processor from Texas Instruments, connections to Hulu Plus and Netflix, and notably similar physical attributes otherwise for the chassis, we’ve got to wonder how this will be able to take on the competition this holiday season. What we’ve got here is what your humble narrator got to look at back about a year ago in the Nook Color, but this time with a few upgrades. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it – is that what this is all about? Our hands-on here and our eventual review of this device will tell the tale.

Inside this device, if you’re not familiar with the original, is Android 2.3 Gingerbread here, but not the Android you’re use to, a wholly different vision from Barnes & Noble which tends directly to the media they want you to use with it – namely books. You’ve got the ability to use apps such as the Hulu Plus and Netflix for video – and they do come pre-installed, but for the most part you’ll want to be concentrating on books and magazines from Barnes & Noble’s vast library. You are able to side-load videos if you wish, as you could with the original, but the main idea here is to work with the cloud, quite clearly.

There’s a microphone on this device, that being an improvement over the Nook Color, there’s a brand new slightly softer feel to the whole device, especially the front facade. This device is slightly lighter and ever so slightly thinner than the Nook Color, but on the whole, again, it’s the same form. If you want a tablet that has access to the Android Market for apps outside those authorized set Barnes & Noble has agreed to get access to the tablet.

As for the reading experience, this device, like the Nook Color, is unparalleled for magazines and rich-color content. There’s interactive elements in quite a few magazines, and a lot (though not all) of the bits that move and play are able to be accessed without a wi-fi connection to the internet. You can get free access to wi-fi for this device at any Barnes & Noble store, mind you, and for the most part I can tell you that I’ll be using this device in coffee shops and in the home anyway, so no worries. Then there’s comics!

Comic books are provided by the new Marvel Comics app, the pages turning just as swiftly as the magazines, rich color and connections included. When you’re on any page, just as it is with a magazine, book, etcetera, you can pull up a menu that will give you such options as “Discover” which shows you suggestions and “Share” which does exactly what you expect it would do.

This device is clearly a beacon for Barnes & Noble, just like the Nook Color was, and it’ll certainly continue to look fabulous right up front of the stores before the customer gets to the paper books. When will they replace the whole store? We shall see!