So far budget LCD ebook readers haven't rocked our world: their displays are grainy, low resolution or the device is just slow. That's all changed with Barnes and Noble's new Nook Color, whose price is enticingly low for surprisingly good hardware.
The Nook Color sells for $249 and it features a 1024 x 600, 7" IPS capacitive display. That's the same display technology the iPad uses, but with even higher pixel density and resulting sharpness. Most budget ebook readers and low end Android tablets use resistive 800 x 480 displays. Score one for B&N.
Build quality is excellent with none of the plasticky look and feel of the Kindle 2 and E-Ink Nook. The drawback is that it's heavy at 15.8 ounces. It's not just the build materials that add weight but the much larger battery required to power an LCD vs. E-Ink display.
The Nook Color runs a custom user interface on top of Android 2.1, but that doesn't mean it's a general purpose Android tablet like the Galaxy Tab. The ereader has a library application, storefront, some bundled apps including Pandora, the Android music player, the Android Gallery application for photo and video playback and the webkit web browser. That's it for apps and Android features. That's enough to make it much more versatile than the Kindle, E-Ink Nook and Sony Readers, though. The Nook Color doubles as a music player, 7" video player and a photo viewer.
The new color Nook has WiFi but no 3G. Other features include enhanced children's books, enhanced magazines and the usual ePUB and PDF support.
Here's our video review, broken down into two parts. In part 1 we compare the Nook Color with the 7" E-Ink Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-950, Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad and Next2 ebook reader. We look at the new magazine format and the libary software.
In part 2 we cover children's books, the web browser, PDFs, eBooks and the video player: