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

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?

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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

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30 comments
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  • wait for tablets with a Pixel Qi display

    A display like the Pixel Qi can be both a reader and a
    tablet, provided the cost issue can be resolved.

    With the backlight off, the Pixel Qi display is sunlight
    readable like the e-ink display.

    With the backlight on, the Pixel Qi display is like any
    color LCD.

    Consumers can get both the battery life and easy-on-
    the-eyes of an ereader, and the color display of a
    tablet.
    rosanlo
    • That is what I am waiting for also

      @rosanlo

      So far the Adam tablet is the only device I have read about which will come out with the Pixel Qi screen. The production volumes need to be ramped up (driven by demand of course) and then the cost will come down.

      If my memory serves me correctly, the PQi screen can be manufactured on an LCD production line, so the transition should not be too costly.
      Economister
  • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

    This just confuses me. Why would I want this over an ipad or for that matter a kindle. Seems like this like nothing but a big honkin set of comprimises.
    jhuddle
  • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

    Why? Because A) it's more inexpensive than a Kindle or an Ipad (especially the Ipad) and B) it's app capable (i.e. the developer angle B&N is finally pushing).
    sharrah@...
    • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

      @sharrah@... it is actually more expensive the both the wifi and 3g kindle, and does not have the battery life, nor will it be readable in direct sunlight. The apps will not be anything special at least compared to an ipad. This device is really in a bad niche. Like I said one big set of comprimises. I am not trying to knock this device, I just don't get it. Both the kindle and the ipad have very clear strengths. This device just does not have any clear strengths. I fear the user base will be too small for any developers to make any real money so I would not bank on the developer angle.
      jhuddle
      • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

        @jhuddle ... Most people that I talk to who have an iPad only use it to surf the internet, not that other people don't utilize for more, just not the ones I talk to. This would device would be perfect for that group of people. They could have a device that would surf the internet and get it for half the price. My wife has wanted an iPad, but I have not wanted to spend $499 because the only thing she would do on it would be surf the internet and use facebook. This device would be perfect for her and $249 is a price I am willing to pay.
        DustinU
      • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

        @DustinU... Fair enough on the price concern vs. the ipad. IMO the screen size will be not be a great for web browsing. I could be worng, but even the ipad is small but at least the ipad has multi-touch for zooming so it works out. I don't think the nook has multi touch, but I could be wrong. Again the screen is not optimal for tablet use, nor is it optimal for ereaders. This just really feels like an "wish I were product", as in I wish I were a tablet, or I wish I were and ereader. My gut feeling is that your wife will be thinking I wish this was an ipad, and not I'm glad we saved $250 bucks, just my opinion. I know it sounds like I am on a crusade, (I'm not), but I just don't get the appeal of this device.
        jhuddle
      • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

        @jhuddle I'm thinking this is going to be geared toward the graphic novel/comic book/manga crowd, which is not a small market. Convincing them to get this device instead of the collectible paperbacks is going to be the tough part.
        Greenman76
    • But the Nook Color is amazingly slow.

      @sharrah@...

      The vids make the G1 look as if it was a speed demon.
      Bruizer
  • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

    Have the iPad and love it - but at half the price, one can learn to compromise a little, especially if you are getting one for a kid! At our local Barnes & Noble tonight, I was told that it was being bundled with QuickOffice - which would certainly be good enough for doing homework assignments.
    Jpkovar
  • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

    nook will be a big hit for the holiday season but in the long run(6 months) it will be over run by full feature android tablets priced in the 250 price range too. wifi only is just fine most ppl can root their android phones and get free tethering, in any case u have to carry ur phone
    snoonw
    • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

      @snoonw
      A lot can happen in 6 months considering this thing will no doubt have FIRMWARE UPDATES.
      ZackCDLVI
    • $250

      @snoonw
      $250 android tablets? on what planet? you do realize that the samsung 7" android galaxy tab is $600? what makes you think others will be able to produce a cheaper version? just wishful thinking?
      banned from zdnet
  • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

    Just for internet and reading, this is gold. Combine it with a Mifi and you are good to go for the road access.
    mstrsfty
  • Color Alternatives already available...

    The:
    CRUZ Reader, $199 through Borders
    Augen Reader, $99 through K-Mart
    Augen Tablet, $149 through K-Mart

    These are all available right now at a significantly lower pricepoint. All are resistive touch colors screens, android based and offer tablet functions as well as expandability via integrated SD or MicroSD card slots. These come in well under the $249 price point listed in this article. And before all the RESISTIVE SCREEN complaints start these devices average 1/3 the price of an iPad with its capacitive screen.
    Scubajrr
    • You forgot about . . .

      @Scubajrr

      The Pandigital Novel, available for around $169.99 - $199: available through Bed, Bath and Beyond, QVC, and several other brick and mortar stores, as well as on-line.
      JLHenry
      • RE: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: E-reader or closet Android tablet?

        @JLHenry Thanks, I was just posting the ones I've had the chance to try out. I haven't had the opportunity to try the Pandigital Novel. (No Bed,Bath&Beyond locally)
        Scubajrr
  • Well the iPad is also a tweener device.

    Basically for a device to do well it has to answer a large need in a market. If it is a tweener device, so what.

    I am not a huge fan of the iPad but I can't argue with it's financial success. It is also a tweener device, it really isn't a laptop, it is not really a phone, and it really is not a single function e-reader. But it is successful.

    The people who I know and like the iPad say it's good for e-mail, web surfing, games, and reading.

    If the Nook Color somehow is a good e-reader, offers a good web experience, plays games, and does other types of media well, it will compete in the same space as the iPad and it's price makes it fairly competitive.
    mr1972
  • Closet Android Tablet

    People will root this device and have it look like a low powered Android Tablet.
    Maarek
  • Walgreen's Droid Pad Device

    Anyone gone and checked it out???
    cyberslammer2