By Lisa Carlin

Barnes & Noble has launched the Nook Tablet. The company has also slashed the price on its e-book readers. The Nook Color will now cost $199, and the Nook Simple Touch will go for $99. The Nook Tablets are avilable for pre-order online and at the Barnes & Noble retail stores for $249. The devices are expected to be available within the next ten days or so. The Nook readers can be picked up from Fry’s, TigerDirect and CompUSA.

The news may not come as a surprise to some; pictures and specs of the Nook were leaked in advance of the launch event last week. What does come as a pleasant surprise is Nook Comics,featuring the largest digital collection of Marvel’s graphic novels, as well as titles from other publishers, including Archie, IDW and Dynamite.

The Nook Tablets have a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and can stream HD movies, among other things. They have a battery life of 11.5 hours of reading time or nine hours of video viewing.

Features:

The Nook Tablets feature B&N’s VividView display for viewing content, with 16 million colors .They also come with full IPS lamination to reduce reflection and glare, and offer extra-wide viewing angles.

Netflix and Hulu Plus come pre-loaded on Nook Tablets, with free trials. Flixster is expected to join the party with newly released movies and TV shows from Warner Bros. and other studios.

Pandora, Rhapsody, Grooveshark and MOG, also come available with Nook, pre-loaded with a free 14-day trial. These devices also have a built in music player.

Nook Tablets weigh under a pound (around 14.1 oz.), and is 10 per cent lighter than the Nook Color.

Nook Tablets have16GB of storage  – plus expandable memory.

The Nook Cloud service powers synchronization between devices.

Angry Birds Rio and Seasons are here. Other apps include Scrabble, Epicurious, My Cast Weather, Taptu, Style.com, Spanish for Dummies, Bejeweled 2, and Ms. Pac Man. There are some of the popular apps for kids, including Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, Drawing Pad and Pop Up Peter Rabbit. By the holidays, Barnes & Noble will offer thousands of Nook Apps from leading third-party developers and content providers, says the company.

Nook Tablets also feature Web browsing and built-in e-mail.

Barnes & Noble is offering a collection of full-color comics, graphic novels and kids’ comics in high resolution. Nook Comics will feature the largest digital collection of Marvel’s graphic novels (available through a third party), as well as titles from other leading publishers, including Archie, IDW and Dynamite.

Owners can share books, as well as browse and borrow books, from Nook Friends using Barnes & Noble’s exclusive LendMe technology.

You can find a complete list of specs here.

(Lisa Carlin writes on gadgets and geeky things for techtaffy.com. She can be reached at [email protected])