Barnes & Noble is finally back in the tablet market with a little help from Samsung. The two companies launched the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook on Wednesday, after prior announcement of the co-branded tablet in a couple months ago. The ebook-focused tablet is available at Barnes & Noble’s store and website for $179, after a $20 instant rebate.

In terms of hardware, as expected the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, which launched in May. It has a 7-inch, 1280-by-800 resolution display with 216ppi pixel density, a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, a 3-megapixel rear shooter and a 1.3-megapixel front camera. Weight and thickness are also the same, at 0.61 pounds and 0.35 inches, respectively. Galaxy Tab 4 Nook has a 8 GB on-board storage, plus a microSD card slot.

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Samsung president Tim Baxter and B&N CEO Mike Huseby

The differences are all in the software portion. While the layout looks identical to stock Android, it also includes a reading shortcut button and a home screen widget for quick access to Nook books and magazines. It also supports Samsung’s Multi-Window feature. Barnes & Noble states that the device is “optimized for reading,” probably because of these software features.

Barnes & Noble is also throwing in $200 worth of content, including three books (Freakonomics, The Wanderer and I Am Number Four), a $5 Nook Store credit, and a 14-day trial to four magazines, along with the previous 12 issues of those publications.

Galaxy Tab 4 Nook has full access to Google’s Play Store, so you also get apps (but also books, movies and music) from Google instead of just Amazon store. There’s no utterance about its availability outside the US market.

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