Barnes & Noble Announces New Android Powered Color Nook E-Reader

Popular book-seller Barnes & Noble has announced a new successor to their color-screen e-reader dubbed the ‘NOOKcolor.’ Retailing for $249 and expected to begin shipping on November 19, the newest version sports some interesting improvements over the first model.

Unlike Amazon’s Kindle, which is a pure e-reader fitted with a dedicated high-contrast E Ink Screen, the NOOKcolor has eschewed the excellent legibility and glare-resistance of such a display, instead opting for a 7-inch color touchscreen. And the differences don’t end there. The latest Nook device is truly more of an Android Tablet than e-reader, which from a product-positioning standpoint seems a little odd. It’s almost as if Barnes and Noble decided to position their product somewhere between the Kindle and the iPad, but in the process are losing the primary advantages of a dedicated e-reader: low-cost and extreme legibility even in direct sunlight.

I will leave it to consumers to decide if they need yet another Android-powered tablet device and instead focus on what the NOOKcolor brings to the table. Sporting a 7″ full-color touchscreen, the NOOKcolor comes standard with a full browser, the LendMe™ feature which allows owners of the devices to lend each other books, some social networking hooks to easily recommend books to your friends on Twitter or Facebook, and of course, access to over two million titles.

Smaller and lighter than an iPad, the NOOKcolor weighs in at just a hair under a pound and comes standard with 8GB of built-in memory, which can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card. It also features a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, a micro-USB port, built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and up to eight hours of battery with the Wi-Fi turned off.

Because the device is powered by Android, there is the potential for the reader to run apps designed for Android. Barnes and Noble are terming these apps NOOKextras™ and include the likes of Pandora and a smattering of games such as Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Chess, among others. Developers will have access to a nook-specific Android eReading platform and can sell their apps in a special marketplace.

With a battery life far shorter than the Kindle, which can last for a full month with Wi-Fi turned off, and an app marketplace much smaller than Apple’s App Store, it remains to be seen if the NOOKcolor will carve out a niche of its own somewhere between these two popular devices.

What do you think? Are you tempted by the NOOKcolor? Let us know in the comments.

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