Barnes & Noble’s New Color Nook

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I’m a sucker for a good book and because I simply love gadgets & Barnes & Noble this was sure to be a winner for me so keep that in mind as you read on. Also know that although I had purchased the earlier E-Ink version I just had to have this one. Don’t worry because I was lucky enough to receive enough gift cards this Christmas in order to purchase this one.

Only one year after the release of the original Nook,  Barnes and Noble introduced the Nook Color, an e-reader designed for reading newspapers, magazines, children’s books, cookbooks, and other color content in addition to e-books.

The first thing you will notice, especially if you have had experience with the earlier E-Ink version is that the Nook Color is heavier then it’s sister version. But that’s OK. Just think of it as one of those 1000 hardback page turners!

The Nook Color also doubles as a portable multimedia device capable of browsing the web, playing video, music, games, and a lot more. This should be enhanced once Barnes and Noble launches the new Nook App Store in early 2011.

The Nook Screen
The Nook Color definitely lives up to its name with its 7-inch VividView touchscreen from LG that can display more than 16 million colors. Images are exceptionally bright and detailed, especially with magazines that use high-quality photographs like National Geographic.

The Nook uses a capacitive touchscreen so you barely have to touch the display for it to react. Scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, highlighting, tapping letters on the keyboard, and navigating through menus all work very easily.

The interface is impressive as well. Navigating is faster and more intuitive with a touchscreen. The on-screen functions, being able to tap words to look up in the dictionary, adding highlights and notes, are all much more functional than the original Nook.

However, like any LCD e-reader, the main drawbacks of the screen are that it is reflective, drains battery power, and fingerprints build up. Outside in direct sunlight the screen is highly reflective and fingerprints are much more apparent, but both are much less noticeable indoors with the brightness turned up. If you like reading on the beach, with the sun directly above this may be a show stopper for you.

Limited Nook Power
As for battery life, it is rated at about 8 hours for reading, which seems to be pretty accurate with the brightness turned down some. My original Nook could sit on my night stand for days, not plugged in without needing a charge, after nightly reading. This is not the case with the Nook Color. Get used to keeping it plugged in when not in use.

Plenty of Memory and Built In Games
The Nook Color comes with 8GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot for cards up to 32GB, built-in WiFi and a web browser, chess, crosswords, Sodoku, Pandora Internet Radio.

Facebook, Twitter and Sharing Books!

Like the older E-Ink Nook, this new Nook can lend ebooks for a period of 14 days. Impressively, the Nook Color has social networking incorporated into it’s interface! Another new feature from B&N is called NOOKfriends, where you can share passages with friends and family through email and social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter. I have not tried this one yet but I am sure my friends on Facebook and Twitter will appreciate it once I start exploring this feature more. This is big for me because my friends on Twitter and Facebook love to keep up with what I am reading!

Nook Functionality

The home menu of the Nook Color is reached by pushing the “n” button below the display. This is the only hardware button with the exception of the volume and power keys. The homescreen background image can be changed and you can drag your books around to arrange them however you want.

There are several other ways to organize content too. In the library there are options for different bookshelf layouts, including custom shelves. There are sections for magazines, newspapers, and your side-loaded content, which includes EPUB and PDF ebooks, Microsoft Office files, music, images, and videos.

As you might guess with a full color touchscreen, Barnes and Noble is doing a lot of promoting for newspapers and magazine subscriptions with the Nook Color, as well as the newly-launched Nook Kid’s portion of B&N’s books. In fact, there’s a feature called AliveTouch where kids can interact with word and pictures, and even have books read aloud to them as they follow along. Sadly my boys are 19 and 23 so I really have no one to try this out with, but I am sure it is a fun feature for kids.

Reading Features on the Nook

For reading features, the Nook comes with several customizing options. There are 6 text sizes, font types, and color themes to choose from. There are 3 levels of adjustment for margins and line height. There’s a brightness adjuster. And an option to turn on and off publisher defaults.

Other reading features include jumping between chapters and pages using the table of contents and slider bar, searching for words or phrases, and adding bookmarks. There’s a pop-up for writing reviews and recommending books that also lists other books written by the author and similar books other customers bought.

For newspaper reading, everything is laid out into sections, which can be navigated by using the table of contents. Each section shows a heading and excerpt. Tapping the heading goes to the full article. Be aware I did try out the US Today on this and was very disapointed with it’s particular functionaility. Newspaper viewing quality differs from paper to paper. I was also disapointed that the Philadelphia Inquirer was not available at this time, but one can hope.

Magazines are a little different. Some operate the same way as newspapers but most are set up like their print counterparts. With these you can zoom in on the images and articles, or choose to read in “Article View”, which pops-up a box with nicely formatted text.

Purchasing Content

It is very easy to browse the Barnes & Noble store on the nook and the interface is fun. You can also shop for content on your computer and your purchased content will be available on your Nook almost immediately.

Final Nook Thoughts

Barnes and Noble has done a great job with the new Nook Color. It is well made with a metal frame and although it’s heavier then the previous E-Ink version it is not uncomfortably heavy. The user interface is smooth and intuitive. The color screen is gorgeous. Right now third party Android apps are not available on the Color Nook but I am hoping that they will be available soon, which would truly enhance this device in the every expanding tablet market.

If you are looking for a great e-book reader then this is a device you should seriously consider. However if you want a device to handle email, true internet browsing, gaming in addition to e-books check out the Samsung Galaxy tablet and yes, even Apple’s I-PAD. As I mentioned earlier, if and when third party Android apps are available, the Nook Color could play a part in seriously competing in the tablet market.

Whatever Happened to My Old Nook Anyway?
Oh and if were wondering what ever happened to my one year old E-Ink Nook. Well, my 19 year-old son was more then happy to take it off my hands!

Nook Color Specs

  • 7-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen, 1024 x 600 at 169 PPI
  • Android 2.1 operating system (Upgrading to 2.2 next year)
  • ARM Cortex A8 processor
  • 8GB internal memory; microSD card slot for cards up to 32GB
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Web browser
  • Pandora internet radio
  • Lend ebooks with B&N’s LendMe feature
  • Audio: AAC and MP3 formats; 3.5mm headphone jack; built-in speaker
  • Video Player: MP4 format
  • Image Viewer: JPG, BMP, PNG, and GIF
  • Supports ePub and PDF formats, both non and Adobe DRM
  • Quickoffice Software for viewing Microsoft Office files: .xls, .doc, .ppt, .pps, .txt, .docm, .xlsm, .ppsx, .ppsm, .docx, .xlx, .pptx
  • Games: Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Chess, etc
  • Weight: 15.8 ounces (449 grams)
  • Dimensions: 8.1 inches x 5 inches x 0.48 inches
  • Battery: up to 8+ hours