Few fields in the tech industry are experiencing the degree of growth that the “e-reader” market is experiencing. Amazon has several current iterations of its Kindle on the market. Likewise, the iPad could be considered an e-reader, even if it has many other features. Sony has released several popular models. However, the field is about to change in a big way with the soon to be released Nook Color.
To be fair, there are other color e-readers out there already. The iPad, already mentioned, is in color, but it is far from a dedicated e-reader, and many people don’t consider it as an e-reader at all. Other e-readers in color have yet to catch on. The Nook Color will be the first e-reader by one of the big two in the field to be in color. This will be quite the game changer. They plan on a big push on children’s picture books, now that they will be able to show the books in their colored format.
It will be about the size of a paperback novel, and will weigh less than a pound, making it an ideal size for a road trip. The ability to lend books is currently a Nook exclusive, though Amazon plans on allowing this popular feature soon. It will include a web browser and the ability to look at PDF files, Word documents, and other popular office files. More exciting are the ability to play videos and download apps, such as Facebook and Twitter. It will even run the popular Android OS.
Still, all is not well. There are a few shortcomings for the new e-reader. Currently, there are only plans for a Wi-Fi version. The 3G versions of e-readers are great for those days when you just can’t get to a local hotspot to download the next book in a series or suddenly remember an old book you are dying to read again. Granted, hotspots are much more popular than they were even last year, but it still creates some issues for those who don’t have a home network. Also, it will not have access to the full Android marketplace, though it will feature its own app store. This is almost unforgiveable, with a device of this quality. It’s memory is excellent, especially when you realize it will have a memory card slot. It has one of the most popular operating systems on a mobile device, so why shortchange customers on the apps? However, when you realize this is primarily a reading device, it is forgivable. The biggest drawback to many will be the price. It is pricey compared to most Amazon and Barnes and Noble readers, at $249. Still, when you look at what all the device can do, it is really quite a fair price, for a mobile internet device and color e-reader.
The Nook Color is actually a very interesting piece of equipment. It eschews the e-ink format, which is supposedly preferable in e-readers, for an LCD screen, like a standard computer. It is a touch screen only device, getting rid of the physical keyboard on most e-readers. It runs a full blown mobile operating system, and has a dedicated apps store. It allows you to read books in full color and share them for a couple of weeks, like you would with a “real” book. Add in other media usages, and you almost have a full blown tablet computer, at half the price of the cheapest iPad. This may just be the device to buy that hard to buy for techie this Christmas season.