Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Nook – Not a Pure eReader

As the demands on my time these past few weeks continued to pull me away from blogging I was left watching quite a few tech happenings from afar.  One of the big news items for this past week was the new Nook Color eReader.  The rumors were true that Barnes & Noble included “color” as the biggest new feature.  What we also learned is this isn’t an eReader of the e-ink variety.

Nook ColorNook Color Landscape

I own both a Kindle 3 and an iPad and both have their strengths.  If I could only own one of the those though I’d probably choose the Kindle.  I say this because I already own a small, light laptop that does the job for web browsing and the other stuff I need to get done.  So for an additional device I really am looking for a true reader – something that is made with book reading as the first priority. 

Here’s why e-ink devices are superior for that task:

  • Battery Life – My Kindle lasts for days and days.  I can take it on a week-long trip (and longer) with me and not even need the charger.  The iPad has great battery life, but nothing even close to that
  • Paper and Mirrors – eInk is a pleasure to read on for long periods of time.  I look at an LCD monitor and Plasma TV way too much of my day and night already so reading on eInk – like paper is easier on my eyes.  And the lack of reflection with an eInk device means I can read it outside and without glare from lights inside.
  • Weight – My Kindle is lighter than most paperbacks.  Tablet PCs just aren’t as light yet.

Now for a comparison of the Nook Color vs the Nook based on what we know:

  • Screen:  Nook Color is 7” Color touch-screen.  Slightly larger than the Kindle, is touch-screen and color.  But it’s also not e-Ink.
  • Format Support:  Nook Color supports ePub and most library e-Book systems while the Kindle does not.  Advantage to Nook Color
  • Memory:  Nook Color has 8GB internal memory but also has a microSD card slot.  The Kindle 3 has 4GB internal memory with no expandability options.  Advantage here is to the Nook Color in a huge fashion.
  • Weight:  Nook Color is 11.6 ounces while the Kindle is only 8.5 ounces (8.7 ounces for the 3G version).  Advantage to Kindle, but not by too much.
  • Connectivity & Price:  The Nook Wi-Fi is $149 vs Kindle Wi-Fi of $139.  Nook Wi-Fi+3G is $199 vs Kindle Wi-Fi+3G of $189.  Again the advantage goes to Kindle but the Nook Color pricing is very good – especially if it can do much in the tablet realm.

The new Nook is essentially a low priced ($249) touch-screen tablet computer locked down to Barnes & Noble’s proprietary software.  This puts the Nook Color in a strange place.  On one hand they’re marketing it as a pure e-Reader shoved inside a tablet.  But on the other hand it’s really a tablet without being able to do things most tablets can do – android apps etc.  They started off with a Pandora app but not a lot more than that.  Personally I think it could make a decent low-cost tablet if they’d free the reins a bit.  Transform it into a full-fledged android tablet with the Nook software featured and Barnes & Noble could sell a lot more of these.  That’s what I think Amazon would do if they take the tablet route.  Bottom line though I recommend a true e-Reader if you read much in the way of books these days.  No, it’s not ideal for web browsing or even magazines for that matter, but its far superior in terms of reading novels.

Nook Color Side

As you can see I still favor the e-Ink display for an e-Reader.  But I do think the Nook Color could be a force to recon with – especially if they would loosen the reigns a bit an let the device be a full-blown tablet.  What do you think?

Other New Nook Color Coverage:

Barnes & Noble Nook Website