Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

Summary:Barnes & Noble's Nook Color is interesting a few levels, but the biggest question will revolve around the device's LCD screen. Is this thing a tablet or an e-reader?

Barnes & Noble's Nook Color is interesting a few levels, but the biggest question will revolve around the device's LCD screen. Is this thing a tablet or an e-reader?

Welcome to the intersection of tablets and e-readers (statement, Techmeme). E-readers typically have e-Ink, which is easier on the eyes for long reading sessions. Think Barnes & Noble's original Nook, Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader. The Nook Color, however, is a different animal at $249.

I looked at the device and instantly thought cheap tablet. Hewlett-Packard has one attached to a printer. And now Barnes & Noble is trying to thread the tablet-e-reader needle. The Nook Color could have a following because the Samsung Galaxy Tab will run you $499 for the Wi-Fi only version.

Among the key questions:

  • Will hardcore readers consider the Nook Color or pan it due to the LCD screen?
  • Is this device even for the hardcore readers? The fact Barnes & Noble launched a store for kids' books indicates that it's more about the illustrations than the text?
  • Will Barnes & Noble's Nook Color attract folks looking at tablets? The answer to that question will depend on the browser and apps available.
  • Does the Nook Color spark a response from e-reader rivals?

As it stands today, Barnes & Noble seems to be sure about the second question---the Nook Color is for kids. Barnes & Noble also launched a developer program for the Nook Color.

What's unclear is whether Barnes & Noble has thought through the impact of an LCD screen. The answer to that question may not matter, if the Nook Color brings in new customers that are looking for a pseudo tablet.

The risk for Barnes & Noble is that the Nook Color is a tweener device that no one is quite sure about.

Nevertheless, you have to give Barnes & Noble credit. It's rolling the dice with the Nook Color. It's nice to have three major e-reader players all trying new things.

A look the various e-reader strategies:

Topics: Hardware, Android, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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