Amazon’s Kindle might be the clear frontrunner in the three-way e-reader war between Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, but that could change pretty soon.
Barnes & Noble upped the ante this week when the company announced the latest Nook device, the NOOKcolor, a sort of hybrid device that essentially combines the best aspects of the Nook and iPad into a small, bright, colorful, cheap e-reading powerhouse and puts the Kindle’s black-and-white e-ink display to shame.
It’s not quite a tablet (like the iPad or Galaxy Tab), but it’s much more than just a simple e-reader. It’s got a full set of features, including a 7-inch color touchscreen, a full built-in web browser, social media integration, streaming music via Pandora, and games such as Chess, sudoku, and crosswords. It even has Quickoffice software built in, giving you mobile access to all of your MS Office docs.
One of the big selling points of the NOOKcolor is it’s “whole-family” appeal. Obviously, it supports traditional e-books, but the NOOKcolor also offers full versions of popular magazines and newspapers, and hundreds of interactive children’s books to introduce your young readers to a whole new kind of reading.
This is a bold move for Barnes & Noble; having released the original Nook after Amazon made a splash with the Kindle, it looks like B&N has finally gotten ahead of the game rather than playing catch-up. And the NOOKcolor comes just in time for the holidays, which should give B&N’s refreshed e-reader line a healthy sales boost.
Of course, the NOOKcolor’s LCD screen offers disadvantages in that it’s difficult to read in bright sunlight, but the allure of full-color books will likely outweigh such minor details for many consumers.
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