Sunday, April 17, 2011

Barnes and Noble Nook Color

The Nook Color certainly gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s not just an e-book reader; it’s almost a full blown tablet. Barnes and Noble bills it as a “reader’s tablet”, and I think that pretty well sums it up. It’s a web browsing, music playing, full color, touch-screen e-book reader.

It runs Android 2.1, has 8GB of on board memory plus a microSD expansion slot for up to 32GB of additional storage, and a microUSB port for easy connectivity. It also sports a beautiful and very responsive 7” VividView Color Touch-Screen with an extra layer of laminate that cuts down on glare and increases off angle viewing. The instructional video it connects to at setup is so colorful and lifelike, and streams so seamlessly, that it will knock your eyes out.

Purchasing and downloading books, magazines and newspapers is quick and easy via the built in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), and transferring documents, photos, music and other large files (like OS upgrades, Android 2.2 is coming!) is a snap with drag and drop file transfer from your PC or Mac via the USB port. The Nook Color supports both the EPUB and PDF formats, plus has Quickoffice software installed, so it supports a myriad of file types. It also comes with the Pandora Internet Radio app installed, which is a very nice feature.

It’s sized perfectly for an e-reader at 8.1”x 5” x .48”, and weighs in at just a hair under a pound. The casing has a rubberized back that gives it a non-slip grip, and it has a good solid feel without being too heavy. Slide it into one of their leather folios and it looks like a high quality date book.

While it’s not nearly as readable in bright sunlight as a standard e-ink reader, this baby really excels on the e-magazine and children’s book fronts. It even supports audio read along books, which is pretty great if you have children or grandchildren in your life. Like the iPad, flash isn’t supported yet either, and there’s currently no access to the Android Marketplace, so there’s a limited amount of apps available for now, but good things are supposed to be coming with 2.2, we’ll see.

So, it’s not as fully functional as an iPad, but it’s also not nearly as pricey ($249), or as large and unwieldy, and it’s not as bright light friendly as a standard e-reader, but it has much more to offer. Like most things in life, it’s all about finding a happy compromise. While I wouldn’t be upset if this thing suddenly was able to provide me with a little Angry Bird action, for now I’m happy with it just the way it is; as a “readers tablet”.

Truthfully, I really didn’t think an e-reader was something I wanted; I love real books, and I’m not much for bringing electronics with me into the great outdoors, but this device has found a niche in my life. It’s a bedside companion, a book pile reducer, a quick webmail and website tool, a portable picture and document viewer, and a great grandchild entertainer. Plus, all of your purchases are archived on the B&N website, so you don’t have to sweat losing them. Also, with the free Nook apps available for the iPod touch, IPhone and PC, you have cross platform portability of all of your purchases. That means you can sneak a peek at whatever book you’re currently reading, or anything in your library for that matter, even if you don’t have your e-reader with you.

The real kicker for me though, is the ability to download virtually any book, magazine or newspaper that my heart desires, whenever my heart desires. Reader nirvana.

That is all.

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