Nook Color, An Android e-Reader… with Benefits

Dave Zatz —  October 28, 2010 — 11 Comments

As I’d anticipated, Barnes & Noble upped their e-reader game by introducing something a bit more tabletesque. Whereas Amazon’s competing on simplicity and driving down prices, B&N is gambling upmarket with the $249 Nook Color. And it is a gamble given their traditional bookselling business and with so many tablet devices on the horizon. Then again, sitting still could be a bigger risk.

B&N is marketing the 7″ color touchscreen device as a digital book reader first and foremost — which seems like the correct strategy. But, while the magazines and customizable bookshelf look attractive, the geek in me is much more stimulated by what appears to be a full-on web browsing experience. If it’s as good as the typical Android webkit browser, this could be an economical and enjoyable couch companion. However, considering the device is shipping in only a few weeks, it’s a little concerning that Engadget wasn’t permitted to “drive” the Nook Color at its press introduction… making me wonder how sluggish it might possibly be (given the original Nook’s slow performance).

Along with the Nook Color, B&N also launched a Nook Developer program – meaning apps and a marketplace! (That exclamation point represents ‘surprise’ not ‘excitement’) Pretty much solidifying the platform as a mobile computing device. And Pandora (!) is a launch partner. Wild stuff, indeed. Although, as I suggested, I’d be satisfied simply with a solid web browsing experience – above and beyond periodic digital periodicals.

11 responses to Nook Color, An Android e-Reader… with Benefits

  1. Yeah, I want one. And it’s cheaper than the original Nook was when it came out last November (which we purchased). But since it’s a variant of Android, which means it will be limited to its own apps (?) then the $249 price tag seems high to me. Even though I’d love it as a reading device. Am I just too cheap?

  2. Well… I think there are three possible prices. What B&N needs to sell it for to make money, what it’s worth relatively, and what people are willing to pay. For the relative question, it does more than a Kindle but less than an iPad so $249 seems about right.

    If the web browsing experience is awesome, I’m comfortable with the price (and willing to retire my Kindle 2). Versus the iPad, which is in a weird place *for me* – it’s overqualified for basic web browsing, yet it doesn’t suit my workflow in terms of productivity.

  3. So you’re saying I’m too cheap. :-)

    You’re right…it is in between the pricing for an eReader and the iPad. Makes sense. But only if it’s more capable than a standard eReader. If it’s just a Nook with a color screen and slightly better web browsing experience (albeit with a nice touch screen), maybe I’ll save my money for that *gulp* iPad.

  4. It really needs access to netflix. If it can do netflix streaming, then I am on board.

  5. My only problem with using this as an e-reader is the whole backlit issue. If I can’t read this outside, then it’s not going to work for me. Based on the video demo on Cnet, this thing has a lot of glare and the fingerprints easily show. I’ll keep my Kindle 2 and wait patiently for future technologies.

  6. This seems like a complete non-starter of a product to me. It’s in no man’s land. People who want a dedicated e-reader will get a Kindle instead, because this eliminates most of the benefits that e-readers offer (a very readable paper-like screen, long battery life, etc.). It’s also more expensive than a Kindle. People who want a tablet will get an iPad (or maybe wait for a full Android tablet) instead, because they’re much more powerful and flexible (and, at least in the case of the iPad, almost surely offer a much better user experience), and not THAT much more expensive. I don’t see what market segment this is going to appeal to, other than BN brand loyalists (do those even exist?).

  7. I agree that people who want an e-reader will be best with a Kindle and that people who want a tablet will do best with an Ipad.

    But why do people assume that everyone wants an e-reader or a tablet in the first place? I’ve never been interested in EITHER. Kindle? I don’t spend $150 a year on monochrome books. Ipad? most “apps” annoy me.

    I DO read magazines and newspapers (and spend $$$ on them), I DO like to browse the web (and would like to avoid buying another laptop for my growing family), I think those two functions are easily worth $250. So I want this thing.

  8. The Nook Color will not run apps straight out of the Android Market, but that does not mean it cannot run them. In fact, they have done a lot of tests on apps from standard Android smartphones and they pretty much run on Nook Color, which has Android 2.1 under the hood. (The Nook native interface and apps are just standard Android application layers.) Barnes & Noble special Nook SDK runs on top of the standard Android one and gives developers access to exclusive extensions and APIs for the Nook and its interface. So porting Android apps is not difficult. B&N says it is more like optimising them for Nook than porting them.
    Nook Color screen is supposed to be better (less reflective) for reading than iPad.

  9. I’ve been pretty surprised by all the people who are saying they see no use for this and using Kindle and iPad as examples. B&N isn’t phasing out regular e-ink Nook and Nook Color is twice as cheap as iPad.

    There have been a myriad of cheap LCD Android-based e-readers/tablets recently and they’ve found their niche despite being rather bad (resistive screens, poor build quality, etc.). Given that and the fact that even old Nook has a developer community that jailbroke it, it’s almost certain that Nook Color will be hacked in no time at all (matter of fact, B&N would be wise to make that process as easy as possible).

    The main concern I have with the device is it’s speed. It has 800 Mhz processor (http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/28/nook-color-processor-revealed-arm-cortex-a8-based-ti-omap3621/) but Engadget noted it was a bit sluggish. Hopefully, B&N engineers will burn some midnight oil to optimize performance!

    Also, it looks like B&N will start accepting applications in “early 2011″ (http://gizmodo.com/5675881/the-nook-color-might-be-a-better-android-tablet-than-we-thought). Really wish they mean January since it doesn’t seem like it’d take much to convert regular Android apps to Nook-optimized ones (per Gizmodo article).

    Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic but won’t be pre-ordering. I will wait for reviews and “liberation” by NookDevs. Would be sweet to have Kindle app on it ;)

  10. To add to what I said, it looks like B&N will push Nook Color very hard, even more so than regular Nook. Visited my local store on Friday and saw a bunch of banners, ads, and even full-color Nook Color booklets promoting the product.

  11. If you question is “Which is better,Color Nook or The regular Plain Nook?” I think it is the Color Nook because that nook itsn’t plain.You can see the “REAL” color on the Color Nook.And on the other nook u cant see the real color that you need to see,but if u already have the plain nook that is ok,If u can turn it in for a Color Nook I would rather do that. HAve a nice day!! (:

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