The world's largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble, has confirmed it is to enter the e-Reader market with a device called the nook. Powered by Android 1.5 and sporting the now familiar e-Ink text display, the nook also benefits from a 3.5-inch color touchscreen interface for library browsing and book ordering. It allows wireless access to over a million eBooks, magazines and newspapers and purchases can be shared with friends.

Barnes & Noble claims that the nook is the world's most advanced e-Reader but with numerous other models available, what does this one have that leads its manufacturers to make such a claim?

What customers want

William J Lynch, President of Barnes & Noble.com said: "We asked our customers what they wanted in an e-Book reader, and specifically designed nook to be the most full-featured, fun, stylish and easy-to-use e-Book reader on the market." The nook has a high quality 6 inch e-Ink Vizplex reading display with 16-level gray scale adjustment and a number of text-size options designed for comfortable ease-of-use.

Underneath the reading area sits a 3.5 inch color touchscreen interface which is used for navigation of the Barnes & Noble e-Bookstore or to swipe through the cover art and title library of purchased e-Books on the device's 2GB of memory. Tap the cover of the book you want to read and text appears in the reading pane.

Whilst this is not the first time we've seen this technology used in an e-Reader, Barnes & Noble does look as though it will be the first to bring it to the marketplace with release scheduled for the end of November.

A never-ending source

The nook's internal memory can store up to 1500 e-Books but this can be expanded via the MicroSD slot to become virtually limitless. Barnes & Noble claims that titles are downloaded from its e-Bookstore in seconds over AT&T's wireless 3G mobile broadband network - at no extra cost to the user. Barnes & Noble store is also offering free wireless in-store browsing of complete books.

The e-Bookstore currently holds over a million titles and whilst best-sellers and new releases have been priced at under US$10, many classics and popular reads can be downloaded free of charge. The e-Books sitting on the nook will be stored in either open EPUB or PDB format which is copy protected by Adobe's Content Server software solution but the device also reads PDF documents.

Barnes & Noble currently offers subscription to a number of newspapers in the US and the company plans to expand this service to cover every major US daily. Subscription to many magazines is also offered.

Share with friends

Using what Barnes & Noble calls LendMe technology, the nook will also allow users to lend titles to friends. Your friend's device doesn't have to be another nook as Barnes & Noble e-Reader software can also be freely used on PC, laptop or Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry or Motorola Smartphones and any Android or Windows based mobile device.

The nook also takes the worry out of being in the middle of a particularly good thriller and forgetting to take your device with you. The Reading Now technology acts as a virtual bookmark which will allow you to pick up the trail on your mobile device, PC or Mac and then again when you next pick up your nook.

A full battery charge should take 3.5 hours and will be good for ten days of reading so long as you don't use the device's wireless capabilities. With battery life in mind, the device incorporates Smart 3G technology to turn on wireless connectivity only when it is needed.

If, like me, you like to also listen to music while you read you'll no doubt be pleased to learn that the nook can also store and play MP3s, not only good for music of course but also audiobooks and podcasts. For use in public there's a standard headphone socket or mono speakers for when in more private surroundings. Load in some JPEGs and you have a portable photo album too.

Coming soon

All of this is nicely wrapped up in a comfortable and portable 7.7 inch x 4.9 inch x 0.5 inch and 11.2 ounce body for which, naturally, there are a range of accessories. Barnes & Noble has certainly squeezed a lot of useful tech into the pocket-sized nook for US$259. But enough to make it the world's most advanced e-Reader? What do you think?

A video overview of the product can be viewed below: