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Barnes & Noble Nook HD & Nook HD+ hit UK shelves

Following the October release of its Nook Simple Touch eBook reader duo, US bookselling giant Barnes & Noble has unleashed a pair of affordable tablets onto the UK market.

The Nook HD and Nook HD+ are now available to purchase from a variety of stores, including specialist literary outlets like Blackwell’s and Foyles, general retail giants like John Lewis and Argos, and supermarket chains Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

Sporting a 7in screen, the Nook HD costs £159 for an 8GB model and will hope to nick sales off the likes of the Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad mini during the 2012 holiday shopping season, which kicks off in earnest tomorrow with Black Friday. Its display boasts a best-of-class resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels at 243ppi, which isn't just impressive on paper, but genuinely amounts to the “best small tablet screen available," according to our Barnes & Noble Nook HD review.

Coming available in Snow (white) and Smoke (grey) flavours, it is powered by a dual-core Cortex A-9 processor clocked at 1.3GHz, and also features a microSD card slot so owners can easily expand their storage capacity - queue further envy from owners of other 7in tablets.

Big brother Nook HD+ sports a 9in display with a similarly impressive resolution of 1,920 x 1,280 at 256ppi and features a slightly nippier dual-core engine clocked at 1.5GHz. Weighing 515g, it’s lighter than many in its class and comes in a singular Slate iteration, costing £229 for a 16GB model. Its rivals this holiday season include the Google Nexus 10 and Apple's fourth-generation iPad.

Tablets are unsurprisingly expected to enjoy strong festive sales this year, and to help you decode the potential consumer electronics minefield, ITProPortal is compiling a series of special buying guides covering a range of popular product categories.

Fans of Barnes & Noble's hardware efforts should head straight to our summary of the best eBook readers for Christmas 2012 - tablet and smartphone roundups are on the way.