Barnes & Noble NookColor review, with video
In this week's video clip, I demonstrate a device I didn't expect to think much of: Barnes & Noble's NookColor e-book reader.
The first Nook, a $259, grayscale-screen device with WiFi and AT&T 3G wireless access--now selling for $199 and since joined by a WiFi-only $149 version--was a me-too competitor to Amazon's Kindle. This $249, Android-based, WiFi-only device is a little bit Kindle and a little bit iPad, without trying too hard to imitate either device.
Here's what I like about the NookColor unit the New York company's PR department loaned for this review:
* The Web browser handles most Web pages--Adobe Flash content aside--without issues and without the distracting pause to redraw of Samsung's Galaxy Tab. For home uses like casual couch reading or in-kitchen recipe lookups, that's fine.
* Its 7-in. color screen, at 1024 by 600 pixels, is sufficiently sharp for easy reading of e-books. But that resolution isn't high enough for reading digital editions of magazines that mirror print versions; I had to do a lot of zooming in and out when I thumbed through a copy of Rolling Stone.
* The NookColor has enough multimedia capability to keep you entertained on a trip. You can drag-and-drop music files, photos and videos (it even played a copy of "Dr. Strangelove" ripped from DVD with the free HandBrake program, although it balked to a copy of The Matrix) to the device or listen to Pandora Web radio.
* Its battery life is nowhere near that of the first Nook or the Kindle, thanks to its use of an LCD instead of an e-ink display. But it's still pretty good: With its screen's brightness turned all the way up from the default 30 percent and the Pandora app playing non-stop, it ran for about five hours.
* If you're the tinkering type, you can "root" the NookColor and turn it into a general-purpose Android device.
Here's what I don't like:
* The glossy screen makes this less than ideal as an e-book reader; it suffers from too much glare. Its lack of physical page-turn buttons means you're limited to tapping the screen--which sometimes brings up a menu of viewing options instead.
* The NookColor's USB cable looks like a standard micro-USB connector but is just different enough to render it useless with other devices.
* It was sometimes sluggish at browsing through a photo album.
* It crashed and restarted once in two weeks of testing.
* Barnes & Noble's store sells titles locked with "digital rights management" restrictions.
The NookColor is no iPad, that's for sure. But it's also no Galaxy Tab. Instead, it's a reasonably priced tablet that doesn't try to solve every mobile-computing scenario. For half the price of an iPad, that could be a reasonable tradeoff--even if you never buy an e-book from B&N's store.
| December 7, 2010; 6:15 PM ET
Categories: E-books, Gadgets, Weekly video
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Posted by: wiredog | December 8, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse