CNET First Look
Barnes and Noble Nook ColorIf you're not sold on e-ink and you don't want something as pricey and heavy as the iPad, the Nook Color is your best bet.
-Hi. I'm David Carnoy and I'm going to give you a quick tour of the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. Back at the end of 2009, Barnes & Noble released an E Ink reader, the Nook that differentiated itself from the Amazon Kindle by having a small color LCD at the bottom of the screen for navigation and keyboard entry among other things. Now, the company isn't messing around with the strip of color. As instead, betting the farm on a full color e-Reader, it features a 7-inch touchscreen LCD, built-in Wi-Fi, and has people asking, "Is it an e-Reader or a tablet?" The short answer is both or as Barnes & Noble is spinning it, "This is a reader's tablet." It's just a shade less than a pound. It's about twice the weight of the latest generation Kindle, but it is significantly smaller than an iPad which weighs in at around 1.5 pounds. The Color screen is next generation LED backlit display supplied by LG which is bright yet energy efficient. The product's designers added a special layer of laminate to the glass that covers the display to help cut down on glare and improve off access viewing. However, like any screen that has a layer glass over it, it's not immune to glare, and like the iPad screen, it is a fingerprint magnet and will potentially crack if dropped. That said, the touch mechanics are quite responsive and the device as a whole is zippy. For those who are hoping for a full-fledged Android tablet, you get such features as web browsing and multimedia functionality along with a little Pandora and some basic games and the ability to read format such as Microsoft office documents and PDF files. But one thing missing is Android Market place. Yes, 4 apps are on the way, but Barnes & Noble is really gearing this toward reader's first and those looking for a multifunction device like the iPad second. We are generally impressed with how elegant the user interface is and how easy the Nook Color is to operate and navigate. We also like that the designers included a physical home button. It's the end at the bottom of the device rather than a virtual one. The hard button makes going back to the home screen easier and it's well placed. Along with its large selection of eBooks, the company is making a bigger portion into kid's content with its new Nook Kid's brand that features digital picture books designed to take advantage of such colored devices such as the Nook Color and the iPad. The same time, the company is highlighting how well the Nook Color handles periodical content particularly magazines. At the end of the day, despite the limited number of apps available at launch, the Nook Color is a much more polished e-reader than the original Nook was when it launched. We've called this the poor man's iPad in the past. While it doesn't offer nearly the range of functionality from a reading experience standpoint, it certainly rivals that of the iPad just on a smaller more portable scale and half the price. I'm David Carnoy and that's the Barnes & Noble Nook Color e-Reader.