Barnes & Noble unveils NOOKcolor e-reader


October 26, 2010

Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor e-reader

Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor e-reader

Barnes & Noble has injected a little color into its NOOK e-reader – 16 million colors that is. The new NOOKcolor ereader sits somewhere between the familiar e-ink offerings and a full-blown tablet (read iPad) with its 7-inch, 1024 x 600 color touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity (but not 3G), a slimline design which measures 0.48-inches thick and weighs at under a pound and a price point which will challenge competitors on both sides of the fence – US$249.

The Android-based NOOKcolor has 8GB of space (expandable to 32GB via a microSD slot), a microUSB port, an audio player which supports MP3 and AAC files, MP4 video playback and Microsoft Office files can be viewed and edited. Sound output is through a standard headphone jack or a built-in (mono) speaker and battery life is, as you might expect, well below what we've come to expect from e-ink readers at 8 hours without using Wi-Fi.

The clear advantage of a color e-reader isn't about book reading, it's the ability to read magazines and surf the web in color, which brings us to the all-important screen. Barnes & Noble says its backlit 7-inch VividView Color Touchscreen delivers "reduced glare and optimum brightness for reading indoors or outside." The 1024 x 600 resolution is delivered at 169 pixels per inch (PPI) and the viewing angle is a wide 178-degrees. The device also caters for six text sizes, works in portrait and landscape modes and background colors and line and margin spacing can be customized.

Yves Behar at fuseproject was brought on-board for the design of the 8.1 x 5 x 0.48 inch unit which includes a soft-touch back and distinctive corner handle.

The NOOKcolor also gets social with a "LendMe" App which allows you to view friends digital libraries and request to borrow a title through Facebook and email.

Being Android based, Barnes & Noble is also encouraging developers to get involved through its NOOKdeveloper program.

With a color Kindle yet to materialize the Nook now has a key differentiating factor from the biggest player on the market (the 6-inch Wi-Fi only Kindle costs US$139). Definitely one to watch as the holidays roll around.

Pre-orders for the $249 NOOKcolor are being taken now with shipping to start around November 19.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

this is basically a tablet, not an e-reader. the key differentiator is the backlit LCD screen as opposed to an e-ink screen. e-ink is still the only real option for reading, either outdoors or for long periods. and an ebook reader doesn\'t need tons of storage, colour or most of the other features in tablets. they really are two different products.


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.


Darren said: \"e-ink is still the only real option for reading, either outdoors or for long periods\"

Really? I know a ton of people who are reading books on the iPad, and even more who spend hours a day reading web pages on it. I am not sure what type of reading marathons he is referring to, but I generally want to take a break after 10 hours or so, and you can even read with it plugged in if you can\'t bear to stop. As far as reading outdoors, I think that even reading at the beach I want to be under some kind of shade so I don\'t broil, and the iPad is fine in the shade especially if you crank the contrast up.

Michael Crumpton

@$249 - a color display eReader, expandable memory, Email, Flash and app and ~8hr battery. It will be on my Xmas wish list for sure.

James Ng

@Michaelc, I think Darren was really expressing the view that for those of us who much prefer reading on reflective technology displays (eg paper), backlit lcd displays no matter how you package them, can never address the reasons for the existence of e-ink in the first place and that those reasons/advantages of e-ink are also what gave rise to e-readers in the firstplace, and therefore backlit lcd displays do not deserve or should not be called e-readers.

Obviously there are other reasons/advantages for the existence of e-readers that are shared by lcd tablets and therefore you have many people using lcd tablets to read books, but it is certainly frustrating, to those not interested in any kind of backlit tablet for reading, that the distinction has been completely blurred.

There are no doubt people who are not effected to the same extent or at all by backlit displays for whom the differences between lcd and e-ink are irrelevant (lucky people like those you know who can read an ipad all day long). Some of those backlit display effects include sore eyes, tiredness, disturbed sleep if using backlit displays anywhere near sleep time and so on.

Daniel Micklethwaite
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