If you live in the US and you think about “book stores”, one of the first things that comes to mind (aside from Amazon.com, of course :-) is Barnes & Noble. Indeed, this company was, for a long time, the number one reseller of books, until the digital age and Amazon came along.
Barnes and Noble Nook Color
Obviously, Barnes & Noble noticed the decrease in sales since the turn of the 21st century, and they haven’t been sitting there doing nothing. One of the first things they did is redesign and renovate their online book store, adding the ability to buy digital books and download them straight to your computer, among other things. That is where Amazon got them – nobody wants to buy paper books anymore.
And just recently, they announced their intention to release their own electronic book reader that would work with their store, just like Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad does. Not long after (pretty quickly, actually), they released the Nook Color – one of the best and most versatile e-readers out there, especially for the price.
The Nook Color was intended to be more than an eBook reader from the start, yet it’s not a full-fledged tablet, either – it’s something in between. The exterior has an interesting industrial design – you won’t be able to confuse it with anything else on the market – the metal frame, big hook in the corner, the display sunk into the frame – all if it looks pretty unique and pleasant at the same time.
The Nook Color has a beautiful 7 inch IPS LCD display with a nice resolution of 1024×600 pixels, which makes the picture very smooth. The colors, brightness and contrast are all on a pretty high level – it’s definitely comparable to the iPad’s display (which actually looks a bit grainier because of its size) and easy on the eyes, which is good if you’ll be reading long books.
The interface is very easy to use for anyone – you’ve got your basic reading and recommended lists on the home screen, as well as links to the apps of your choice. The Nook Color has its own app store, which is pretty popular as well – there were over 2 million downloads in the first week alone! There are 8 GB of onboard Flash storage for all your books and apps, and you can add up to 32 GB more using the well-hidden micro SD card slot – that’s enough to store thousands of books!
Barnes & Noble Nook did a good job getting developers, and they didn’t just get them to learn a new OS and API either – you’d be surprised to find out that the Nook Color has Android running underneath all of that makeup. This actually made it a popular device in the modders community, thanks to its good hardware specs (an easily overclockable 800 MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, the same as on the Droid X, and a full 512 MB of RAM), and ability to be easily rooted and turned into a full-fledged Android tablet (well, without the camera, microphone and 3G radio). Obviously, this allows you to get a full Web browser, audio and video players, and much more.
All in all, the B&N Nook Color is an amazing eBook reader that can easily double as a video and music player and Web surfing device (but not the other way around – it was primarily intended for reading!). And at about $220 price with a discount on Amazon and other sites (or $249 directly from B&N) it’s definitely worth a look even if you are in the market for a fully functional tablet – chances are, you may reconsider!