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Tech Report – Nook Color

By TheTechDad

Anyone who had doubts about Barnes & Noble’s commitment to the Nook e-reader (myself included) was forced to re-think their position after the surprise unveiling on Tuesday of the Nook Color.

The surprise wasn’t so much that B&N had produced a color e-reader – most tech pundits had known something was in the works for weeks if not months. No, the real surprise was how good it was – and how affordable. The Nook Color has thrust B&N firmly back into the discussion on the future of e-readers and tablets – and may even have made it the company to beat!

Since the arrival of the iPad, the e-reader market has been thrown into disarray. While Apple likes to claim that the iPad is a terrific e-reader, nobody is going to pay $499 and up just to read books when Amazon is selling the Kindle for $139.

However, the iPad has given everyone a taste of what reading e-books and magazines should be like: full-color, pop-up illustrations, a gorgeous 10-inch LED backlit screen. Once you experience an iPad, going back to the Kindle is like, well, just reading a book.

Enter the Nook Color.

The Nook Color eschews the standard E-ink format of most e-readers for a 7-inch, 1024x600 resolution, full-color LED backlit screen that is laminated to maximize readability and minimize glare. The Nook Color is Wi-Fi-enabled, has a full web browser, plays videos, and sports 8GB of internal memory, enough to hold 6,000 books. And all this is packed into a device that weighs under a pound and is less than 1-inch thick.

The Nook Color is launching with a number of content partners, including Condé Nast, Hearst, and Pandora, the music streaming service. It will also feature dozens of weeklies and dailies, including the New York Times and USA Today. This is on top of the two million books that can be accessed through B&N’s own digital store.

The Nook Color also caters to children with Nook Kids, which will offer hundreds of picture books, interactive animations, video, and text-to-speech read-back capability. There is also a Nook Friends feature, enabling “social reading” and content-sharing via Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Although the Nook Color includes some built-in apps such Sudoku and crossword puzzles, B&N has invited developers to create others. The Nook Color runs on the Android operating system, so there is the potential to access other apps through the Android Market at some stage in the future.

But perhaps the best feature of the Nook Color is the price. It goes on sale November 19 for $249. That’s $100 more than the cheapest Kindle, but the price differential is more than justified by the color display, full web access and the additional content.

While Apple execs won’t lose too much sleep, the iPad looks even more expensive than before and they can no longer claim that they have the only color e-reader in town. Over at Amazon, things may be a little different. Even though sales are currently booming, the world of the Kindle is suddenly looking a little gray!

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