Barnes & Noble Nook E-Book Reader: A Detailed Review


Barnes & Noble when first released their e-book reader about a year ago it was definitely going for the success road. B&N has indeed gone from almost a no name and no presence in the electronic books industry to the present 20 percent of the market share. Recently, company made a definitive move by switching from their already existing sluggish hybrid device that had a combination of E-ink and LCD to a more visually rich Color Tablet that looks similar to e-book reader.

According to the various industry analysts, the Nook color is indeed a great step by B&N as they have powered the latest Colored e-book reader with Android mobile operating system and has tapped the children’s book and full fledge periodicals and magazines category. Both of these categories are still somewhat overlooked by the likes of Amazon and tech giant Apple.  Apart from a full fledge e-book reader, Nook Color offers a wholesome Tablet computing experience, pretty much what you experience on Apple’s hottest selling item of the year iPad and Samsung’s Tablet device, Galaxy Tab.

Moreover, B&N is also planning to launch its very own Android Tablet store for the applications just like Apple’s App Store. The e-book market is suffering from a fierce competition and B&N has to bear the brunt of the competition. Is Nook Color the right choice for an e-book reader and will it make its mark as a Tablet computer alternative? Let’s review it on both the hardware and the software front.

Nook Color Hardware

From the design point of view, it seems obvious that B&N has put in a lot of effort in carving out the design factor. In fact according to a source close to the company, the real design rather the main manufacturing blueprint of the device is done by Yves Behar, who is the main designer behind the products like OLPC laptop XO and gadgets like Jambox. So, there is undoubtedly no mistake in the master touch of this device, on the design parameter. The front side of the device is all about a 7-inch IPS display screen of size 1024×600. The sides and edges of the device are almost coated with matte finish and a special charcoaled colored Plastic. On the back side, the device is pretty smooth to touch and have a soft rubber in it. There is a 3.5mm Headphone jack that is right on top of the Device, plus there is a speaker as well on the back side of the device. There is also a Home Button, just like Apple iPhone home button, that straight away takes you to the always familiar Homescreen. Having thickness of 0.48 inch, the device feels pretty substantial in your hand.

Now from inside, the device is equipped with a TI O MAP 3621 CPU that is clocked to almost a speed of 800 MHz and the device boasts a 512 MB of RAM and a total of 8GB of flash storage. Moreover, there is a Micro SD slot that can enable you to expand the memory to a total of almost 32GB. The Company B&N is quite proud of the screen, they have boasted in the new device. It has a “VividView” treatment that gives users a smaller amount of glare. So, this means that screen coating on the device is somewhat fully laminated against the own glare, but still some users have complained that the reading in brightly lit places is difficult.

The device Nook Color is equipped with Wi-Fi and users that always opt for 3G will have to wait a bit, because there is no 3G option in the device. Moreover, there is a light sensor in the front of the device that helps the brightness control of the device. Well overall, Nook Color has an air of good design with it that gives it a total control over the performance factor. On the performance front, the device is pretty good and utilizes its hardware to the optimum level.

Software Features of Nook Color

Well, it is a general perception among the tech analysts that touch screen devices realm is all about the software that powers the device; Nook Color is having a downside on the software front as it is not powered by standard Android versions available in the Smartphones rather it is built on a custom Android build that is a revamped software version of Android 2.1. Android 2.2 is the running firmware on almost all the devices and Google is planning to step into the realm of Android 2.3, so this makes B&N a bit outdated on the software front. But the custom Android of Color Nook is typically redesigned that very much makes it different than what you find on normal Android versions.

So when you first power ON the device, you are greeted with a center screen sort with three distinct Homescreens where it is very much easy for you to arrange your periodicals and books that you are currently reading or planning to read. Moreover, a quick boot also allows you to have a quick access to other notable features like general settings and the most recent collection that you have streamlined.

Gauging the general navigation on every screen that you will come across, there is a small tab that pretty much draws a list of options from the base of the page with very familiar Nook Color selectable menus like Shop, Web, Search, Library and settings.

The library section of Color Nook is normally organized by both the Books and the newspapers and it also gives option to users to customize their library. Shopping via Nook is also been made interactive with clear sought out methods for the discovery of contents and the search for the contents. The device plays Audio files like AAC files and MP3 files but getting your music into the player is quite a cumbersome task, plus there is no option of adding files or albums into the Playlists. Playing videos is yet another issue because, apart from playing formats like M4Vs, it pops up some problems while playing HD format videos.

Overall ratings

Well, if you are a hard core e-book enthusiast with a wholesome appetite of going through magazines and stuff on your gadgets, then Nook Color is definitely the gadget you should spend your hard earned cash on. Moreover, Barnes & Noble has considerably a good collection of books and Journals with them and company is also frantically trying to pursue the periodical business which will definitely help them in making their mark in the industry.

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