Barnes & Noble has been selling books for decades. In 2009 they decided to expand their business into the electronic book (eBook) realm. Since that time, they have brought two eBook reading devices (Reader) to the market. They are the NOOK and the NOOKcolor.
The NOOK was brought to market in late 2009 as an alternative to other eBook Readers. The original NOOK has two versions. One uses Wi-Fi only to shop for reading material. The other one has both 3G and Wi-Fi wireless connections for shopping and browsing the Barnes & Noble eBook Shop. The advantages of the NOOK are a paper like reading surface, a long battery life and a lower price.
The NOOK has two screens. A larger 6-inch screen on the top part which uses E Ink technology, which looks more like ink on paper than like a computer screen. When you look at pictures, or other graphics on this screen, color images look similar to a black and white photo. This type of screen is good for reading outdoors in sunlight. E Ink screens are also easier on the eyes than backlit LCD displays. The top screen is not a touch screen.
The bottom screen is a 3.5 inch horizontally oriented color touch screen. This screen is used for navigation and browsing color book covers. If a keyboard is needed, a touch keyboard is presented here. Navigation is done through menus.
The product website says the battery lasts up to 10 days. The NOOK has two gigabytes (GB) of storage, which equals up to 1,500 books, magazines and newspapers. If you need more space you can insert a microSDHC memory card. The Wi-Fi version sells on the Barnes & Noble website for $149. The 3G+Wi-Fi version is $199. You may be able get a discount if you shop around online.
The NOOK has a few extras like chess, Sudoku games and an audio file player.
The NOOKcolor went on sale in late 2010. In many ways the NOOKcolor is superior to the NOOK, but it is not perfect in every way. This model has one 7-inch color touch screen. This screen is good for reading in dark places because it is backlit. Navigation is easy and intuitive. All books and periodicals that have color look just like their print version.
One of the features that differentiate the NOOKcolor from its predecessor is the way it presents children’s picture books. The books are in color and can be flipped through horizontally. Some children’s picture books have interactive text and pictures. Some can be read to the reader with a professionally recorded audio track included with the purchase of select children’s picture books. The audio track is embedded within the eBook and is easy for a child to use.
The NOOKcolor has 8 GB of storage, which will hold up to 6,000 eBooks. It is also expandable with a microSDHC memory card. The product website claims up to an eight hour battery life with the Wi-Fi turned off. The NOOKcolor costs $249 on the Barnes & Noble website. As of now, there is no 3G+Wi-Fi version of the NOOKcolor. The NOOKcolor’s extras include chess, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and Pandora Internet Radio.
Both the NOOK and the NOOKcolor have a Barnes & Noble Shop of over 2 million books and periodicals. Both allow you to get a Barnes & Noble selected free book each Friday. All NOOKs use MicroSDHC memory cards for expansion, up to 16 GB for the NOOK and 32 GB for the NOOKcolor. Both can play MP3 audio files you transfer using the included USB cable. This allows you to play music or audio book files. Both allow you to read some books for up to one hour per day free using the free Wi-Fi in Barnes & Noble retail stores. The Nook and NOOKcolor have web browsers. The browser on the NOOKcolor is more sophisticated.
Barnes & Noble does sell electronic textbooks (eTextbook), but not for the NOOK. If you want to use eTextbooks from Barnes & Noble, download their NOOKstudy software for Mac or PC from their website and read the books on your computer.
If you like color graphics, children’s picture books or reading in the dark the NOOKcolor is the best choice. If you like 3G wireless shopping, a paper like appearance, a low price or reading in sunlight the original NOOK will fit your needs. In either case eBooks are weightless and generally less expensive than printed books. If a heavy backpack is getting you down, this may be your best reason to jump into the electronic reading revolution.