- Operating System: Android 2.1 (Éclair)
- Form Factor: Tablet
- Dimensions (IN)Length 8.1″, Width 5″, Thickness 0.48″
- CPU Processor: Ti OMAP 3621 @ 800Mhz
- GPU Processor: POWERVR SGX530
- Graphics Rendering: Open GLES1.1, OpenGLES 2.0
- RAM: 512MB
- ROM: 8GB
- User Storage Capacity~5GB
- Removable Memory: (up to) 32GB via microSDHC
- File System: FAT32
This is a special contribution by @Birdigrl - I tried to review the NC but I could never get an opportunity to actually spend the time necessary.
During this past Christmas season I was given probably one of the best presents you can give a bibliophile like myself, an e-reader. While I have had an e-reader before (by Sony) and swore after that one (since it was a hate-hate relationship) to never have another e-reader again, Barnes and Noble released the NOOKColor. I guess I have to go back on my word now.
The overall design of the NC is sleek and clean. It has nice rounded corners and all the buttons for volume, power, and home are in reasonable spots and not likely to be tapped accidentally while your delving into some deep passage of a book. It has a headphone jack (handy for when listening to Pandora). Also, it comes with an micro SD slot that can be used up to 32GB. The color of the screen was wonderful and bright and I have found that even after long periods of time of reading in both the dark and just average room lighting (be it by a lamp or even daylight for that matter), I have had NO eye pain or strain. I know this can be a concern of people considering such a product for their reading enjoyment. I’d like to explain something on the feel and weight of the NC. First off, while it is sleek in the design, it’s not so sleek that you find it slipping out of your hands every 5 seconds. It has an almost rubberized back and a matte finish around the edges of the screen. It has a comfortable weight in your hands, and by that I mean it doesn’t feel flimsy and on the other hand won’t strain your wrists while reading for hours. It has a nice “book weight” comparable to a small hardback book. B&N increases the appeal for such a product by selling covers for your NC that SNAP securely in. No slipping out. No thin plastic clips that threaten to break each time you want to take your NC out of the cover, and no elastic bands that will stretch over time leaving you to resort to duct tape and wishes. All the covers have a nice suede-like interior complete with sturdy thick plastic clips. The covers come in different designs and materials. I currently have one that is basically the cover of a hardback novel,( the look and exact feel of one to be precise), and this brings me great joy. I feel like I’m holding a book. The greatest part is that this singular book is carrying thousands of other books at my disposal and I don’t have to have back surgery after carrying them all.
Inside Details and Features:
The initial setup was so easy, and I guess by now you have guessed I have no tech background at all. I just have average knowledge, I know how to browse the web and follow directions. While an e-reader is in no way really viewed as something complex, it has to be able to appeal to those of us who have little innate fears of something technological, something that may have different prompts and set ups that make us shiver in our bookworm boots. There is an easy setup guide that comes with it and all the steps are clear and easily explained. I did the setup in a couple minutes and away I went. For those of us that need a little additional help getting things sorted after the setup, there is another quick guide and users guide that go deeper into all the intricacies and describe all the functions. These guides are available on your home screen. There are also video tutorials that will do a walk-through of different functions on B&N’s website. This is easily available when you open the web from your NC.
When I first started using the NC I was impressed by how clear the screen is, but also how responsive the touch screen is. Moving from screen to screen is relatively easy and there is generally no lag time between making your selection and reading. At the center, on the bottom of the screen there is a small icon, this brings up your menu selection. There is Library, Shop, Search, Extras, Web,and Settings to select from. Everything is pretty self explanatory, but I will go into each to explain the little details.
Takes you into your books that you have downloaded from the store. There are divisions along the top of the screen between Books, Magazines, Newspapers, My Shelves, My Files, and the Lend Me app. You can add books and etc. not only from B&N, but also from Google books or even from the Kindle app. You can set up and name shelves in your library to make your selections easier, and you classify books as you want, it is not automatically done for you. For example, you have read Dracula and you have set up a “classic” section for yourself but you also have “books that scare me” section, you can pick which shelf it goes on. It can also go on both by just holding down on your book selection, this prompts you with another easy menu that gives you a list that includes, add to home (home screen), add to shelf, remove from shelf, recommend, and view details. All the books are already on your home screen after they are purchased, but can be removed from your home screen and moved to your shelf by doing the same thing. Another nice touch is the Lend Me app that allows you to borrow books for up to 14 days from a friend that has a NC, or they can borrow from you. You will see as you shop, that some of the books have banners across them; a good amount of these have “Lend Me” across them. So let’s say one of your friends has a book you are interested in and it happens to be a lend me book, you can borrow that book, at no cost and have 2 weeks to read it. The book is automatically returned to their shelf after the 2 weeks. No need to panic about returning the book on time. Lastly, I have looked at our local library and have found that you can borrow e-books. They have an option to download a media console for your Android, whether this is able to be used for your NC is something I have yet to figure out, but will update when I grill the local librarian. This would be a great option especially if your reading fever is high and your cash flow is low.
I believe at this point you have discovered that the NC has WI- FI. I don’t think this needs any great detail, but for the most part you are directed into a very easy layout of download-able books. You can browse various categories. There is a search bar to plug in any author, title, genre etc. that you are trying to find. Click on your book, and you are given an description of the book, complete with reviews from customers (if available), editorial reviews (if available), and a section that shows books that are similar to your selection. You can check out a sample for free or purchase outright. You can also select “add to my wishlist.” Books that are purchased or sampled are downloaded relatively quickly.
Can’t find your book, magazine or author in your expanding library? Type in your topic, and it will give you a list. The categories are divided between your library, but also looks up the same thing in the shop, additionally it gives you the option of searching the web for it or even do a Wikipedia search.
You have a small selection of “extras” in this category. ( I have had my NC rooted, so I have a bit more of a selection than what I started with). Your selections consist of Pandora Radio, which can be played while you read. I have not come across any lag in use while reading and listening to music. There is also chess, Gmail, sudoku, calendar, contacts, crossword, and gallery.
You have WI-FI. Use it. The connection has been great and my wireless router at home is not the best. A great advantage to this e-reader is being able to link into the web. When you click on this selection you are taken to the B&N website, and I might add, it is the full website not a “mobile” style website that you might get on your phone. The beauty of this is that you can meander away from the B&N site and use it like you would any tablet, laptop, or computer.
This section gives you a menu of device settings and app settings. The device settings gives you device info, wireless settings,screen settings (orientation, brightness,and timeout), sounds, time, security, and keyboard. The app settings give you home, shop,search and social (where you can link your NC to Facebook, Gmail, and your Twitter account).
Various things while reading your selection:
While reading your book, mag or newspaper there are some helpful tools you have along the way. You can just tap the screen to bring up a menu along the bottom which contains a listing for content (lists your table of contents where you can click on chapters), search, share, text (adjust font size, style and layout), and brightness. Another feature you have while reading is you can press and hold on a word and highlight sections from what you are reading, be it a passage or a single word. This can be posted to a contact, Facebook or Twitter. With the same action you can write notes for yourself, or look up definitions with this highlighting feature. A special feature for the newspaper or magazine selections is something called “Article View”. This feature is reminiscent of the layout of the Wall Street journal which is set up in columns (made for easier reading on the cramped morning commute to your job, you busy bees!) while everything is easy to zoom into at the tips of your finger you can also use this additional feature to break things down into selectable columns. I find this is an awesome setup for when I am going through a cooking magazine. I can select article view, and have each recipe on its own column, no more accidentally mixing up ingredients from one recipe with another.
I am looking forward to being able to use the feature for the children’s picture books more, (and I’ll admit I have been using it already), the color is amazing, but the picture books are set up with a feature of being able to have you read, or be read to. The voice who does the narrating is an actual person, not a robot dictation. If you choose the “read to me” selection, you are at full control of turning the pages, allowing you to take your time with your child if they want to look at pictures longer, and also the advantage of tapping on one of the passages and having it re-read if need be. If you choose “read by myself,” you still have the option of being able to tap on passages in the book and have that selection read to you.
I hate to say that I am in love with the NC, but I’m definitely smitten. (O.K, I’m in love). I would suggest this for anyone who’s looking for a solid e-reader. This is great for anyone who travels, or commutes. Great for students, and wonderful for people who are trying to downsize in their lives and want to get rid of the stacks of books that may have accumulated over the years. I consider myself a tough customer because I hate things that require a lot of setup and tons of extra steps to get from point A to point B. I am not in many ways technologically savvy and was originally skeptical that something such as the NC could tear me away from the comfort of the accumulation of the stacks of books I have accrued over the years. While I will probably go out a buy a book here and there (because that’s my nature), I find comfort in using the NC as my main source to fulfill my bibliophile needs.
Simon did a Quick Look Video of the Nook Color here
Here is the product page for the NOOKcolor
I will be doing the more technical review of the Nook Color after I get home from CES – Cameron Wright