The Barnes & Noble Nook was already one of the most interesting eBook readers on the market, thanks to its dual display layout, with a low power E Ink screen and a full color display below it for navigating through menus and viewing book covers and other data. Oh yeah, it also runs Google Android. Today things got even more interesting… although a bit confusing, with the announcement that Barnes & Noble is introducing a new full color version of the Nook.
Here’s the skinny. The new NOOK Color is basically a 7 inch Android tablet with a 1024 x 600 pixel full color IPS LCD touchscreen display. It has 8GB of storage space plus a microSD card slot for expansion. It supports WiFi and has an accelerometer which will rotate the display automatically when you hold the NOOK Color in landscape or portrait mode.
The NOOK Color will not have access to the Google Android Market, but it will run third party apps, including Facebook and Pandora. There’s a music player to boot, and while there’s no support for Adobe Flash, you can view many other video formats.
The NOOK Color is also pretty slim, at just under half an inch thick. It weighs just under a pound.
I get why Barnes & Noble is doing this. If the original Nook was the company’s answer to the Amazon Kindle (and the Sony Reader before it), the NOOK Color is Barnes & Noble’s reply to the Apple iPad. It can run apps. It can view full color web sites and magazines. It does audio and video.
But you know what it doesn’t do? It doesn’t have battery life measured in weeks instead of days (It should get run for about 8 hours with the WiFi turned off). Some purists will also claim that LCD color displays are harder to read than E Ink screens. And without Android Market access, it will be much harder to find and install quality third party apps, which makes it tough to compete with the iPad.
Of course, at $249, the Nook will be half the price of the least expensive iPad… so maybe that’s all that really matters.
The NOOK Color is expected to start shipping on November 19th. It will also be sold in Barnes & Noble stores as well as Walmart and several other locations. You can already place an order today. The company is also continuing to offer the original Nook eBook reader for $149 and up.