Somewhere at Amazon HQ, there are execs shaking in their boots. It might just be the worst week ever for Amazon Kindle team and the best week ever for those who have been patiently waiting for the next generation of e-readers to arrive. The rumored Nook Color has landed and it’s nothing short of spectacular. The Barnes & Nobles Nook Color sports a 7″ capacitive touchscreen display that can jump between both landscape and portrait videos, and is designed for not just ebooks – but interactive ebooks with videos and animations, full color magazines and newspapers, and it packs in plenty of other tricks – all for $249.99.
UPDATE 11/2010: Read our full Nook Color Review here.
As for the hardware, the device sports a VividView 1024×600 IPS display with 26 millions colors. This display uses a full lamination screen film on top of the LCD which is designed to reduce glare from backlight. The device itself measure less than an inch thin and weighs less than a pound- 15.6 ounces to be exact. It comes with 8GB of built-in memory, along with a microSD card slot and WiFi. Battery life is supposed to be up-to 8 hours with the Wifi turned off.
When it comes to reading eBooks, the Nook Color is able to pick up where you left off last time. When you open a book you can change text, margins, line spacing, and background color. Hold down any word or phrase and you can look up the text in google, wikipedia, and take notes. The Nook also offers the ability to tap and recommend to a friend via Facebook or Twitter. Readers can discuss, share, recommend and borrow books and you can also choose to share a quote or passage via Facebook, Twitter or on your Nook friendship circle. The device also works with interactive ebooks. One example they showed off is of an interactive cooking book that has recipe videos right on its pages. Other neat ebook features include in store browsing and lending, as well as exclusive in store content.
A “first” for a dedicated ebook reader is the Nook’s library of so far over a 100 newspapers and magazines which can be viewed and read in full color. These periodicals can be purchased as subscriptions or individual issues. Some of these initial titles include Elle, US Weekly, and the New York Times. You can swipe your way through you favorite magazine in landscape of portrait view. Pinch or double tap to zoom. The app reminds us of the Zinio iPad app. But reading mags and newspapers on the Nook offers a neat feature – you can tap on an article and it’ll bring up the full content to read in a single view.
The Nook Color has also been designed for families with kids in mind. To that effect they are offering a library of interactive kids books with animations and audio. Some of these books even have the option to have the book read to your child by a professional narrator. This is accomplished with a “Read to me” button.
Running along the bottom of the homescreen the Nook shows off thumbnails of your latest downloaded content. Above that is an area where you can drag and drop your latest titles to rearrange however you’d like. In the Library, everything is organized by books, magazines and newspapers. The “My Shelves” section lets you create your own books shelves to store however you’d like to. The My Files section is an area where you can store PDF files, Powerpoint docs and other files. Finally, Nook Book Personal shopping is where the Nook will make you recommendations based on your taste.
The nook also comes with a web browser and a bunch of other neat extras like a crossword puzzle, Sudoku game, chess game, music player, video player, and Pandora app. Through the Nook Developer program, extras will be able to be expanded. Dictionary.com, and Lonely Planet are just some of the extras on their way. Finally, B&N’s Pub It will make it easy for small publishers and authors to upload their content to the B&N bookstore.
The device is running on Android, but you’d hardly know it – especially since a lot of aspects of the Nook Color’s interface are very iOS like. For instance, the Nook’s on-screen keyboard is very Apple-like and the device sports similar touchscreen gestures to iOS. In person the device is indeed just the right size combination in terms portability, weight and display size. One of the extras on the Nook Color includes the ability to play video, and videos do playback lovely on the Nook in fullscreen, without a hitch. We didn’t get to use the touchscreen ourselves, but the guy from B&N who was demoing it for us seemed to have no problems navigating through what seems to be a very fluid interface, which again – is very iOS like.
The only real direct competition for the Nook Color would be Borders Cruze Tablet, but we doubt that it has nearly the same strengths in terms of software, etc. That said, the Nook does feel like it’s almost in direct competition with the all the 7″ tablets coming out soon, yet it’s so much more affordable. For anyone who has been waiting to bite the bullet on an e-reader because they wanted a color screen or perhaps the iPad was too pricey for them- this might just be what they were waiting for. One thing’s for sure, the Nook Color is going to be a hot holiday item. The Nook Color is available for pre-order at Nook.com for $249.99 and is set to ship on November 19th. It will also be on display at Walmart, Best Buy and Books a Million shops at the end of November.