Posts Tagged ‘Nook’

E-Reader Pricing Battle Begins

Monday, June 21st, 2010

With the launch of the iPad, a lot of comparisons have been made between tablets and traditional e-readers. While the iPad is in its own class, the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble have been compared against it. Both devices came up short at their asking prices due to their limited features by comparison. However, when classed appropriately among peer devices, the Nook and Kindle are more directly competing for the non-iPad crowd.

Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Wi-Fi, a lower-priced version of the popular Nook e-reader. The Nook Wi-Fi offers familiar features, and is available on all of AT&T’s Wi-Fi hot spots. The Nook Wi-Fi is priced at $149. The original 3G/Wi-Fi Nook is now $199, a drop of $60.

Amazon moved quickly on the news of the Nook announcement. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but landing at $10 under the Nook 3G looks pretty intentional. Either way, it was about time the Kindle came down. With no color screen, no touch screen, and no Android tablet features, it was way too expensive. There has been some discussion (likely not at Amazon) that the ideal price point for the Kindle is $100, if it is to gain a lasting foothold in the e-book market. I think it would be a much more reasonable price, but at least it dropped as far as it did this time. An e-reader needs to compete against other e-readers, not a “full”-featured tablet like the iPad.

The e-reader pricing battle has begun. I am looking forward to a counter-move by Barnes & Noble. It may not happen soon, but I am sure something will happen. Let’s see if Sony jumps in on this price scheme. At $200, the Reader Touch remains on the top of the price tier. Let’s hope for a continued collective drop.

Nook Review – Hands On: Part 2

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I was discussing my last post on the Nook with a friend, and it came to my attention that I could have added quite a bit to the review. There are a few more features that are worth noting: the e-Lending, checking out books from a library, and the mp3 player.

Lending a book to a friend is a good feature. Apparently there is a time limit though, so your friend needs to be able to finish a book in 14 days. Your friend doesn’t need to have a Nook however, which is good. You can share with friends on a PC or Mac (with Barnes & Noble software), iPhone or iPod Touch, with Blackberry and other smartphones getting the feature sometime this year. An interesting thing that I picked up in the store is that Barnes & Noble oversold the e-Lending feature initially, and that the book publisher has a veto power that wasn’t initially advertised. The only books available for e-Lending have been pre-approved by the publisher. It also looks like just as with real books, if you lend it out you can’t read it until they return it or their time expires.

The library feature is also interesting. Again, I was told it was limited, and that the Los Angeles County library is the only one currently lending to Nook owners. I don’t know if this means only L.A. has the feature, but I imagine that it is limited to metropolitan areas.

The Nook also features an mp3 player. This can be especially useful for books on tape (or CD) that you have in your home library. Load them up on the Nook and enjoy them all over again, assuming you know how to rip a CD. You can also listen to music of course.

There was a little confusion over the external memory when I discussed it with the Barnes & Noble staff. They said to use a Memory Stick, which I thought was strange considering it is Sony’s product. I asked again for confirmation and they said it was the Memory Stick. Turns out it is really a Micro SD card. Big difference. I’m glad I wasn’t in the market that night. Of course with 2GB of internal memory it probably wouldn’t have come up immediately. It would be good for the staff to know the difference however.

It probably seems like I don’t like the Nook much after this post, but it really is a decent device. I learned a lot about it and while it may not be my top choice, I think there are plenty of people this would be great for. It is a solid device, has plenty of features, and has a huge volume of available content. This device is sure to make a book-lover happy.

Nook Review – Hands On

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I reviewed the Barnes & Noble Nook last night, but I got to spend some time with it tonight so this is a follow-up to the original post.

I went in to my local Barnes & Noble to test out the free Wi-Fi feature and ideally the 3G connection. I succeeded in the Wi-Fi test, but not the 3G. I was using the floor model, so naturally it was connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot. I did confirm that the 3G is free and is offered by AT&T.

Upon picking up the Nook, I immediately noticed the light weight. I could comfortably hold it in my hand. The navigation buttons are offered on both sides of the screen to encourage one-handed use. You can turn pages either direction with one hand. The next thing I noticed, having just played with the Sony Reader again, was the inability to navigate the e-Ink screen. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but I had to keep reminding myself to use the buttons.

The Android-based navigation screen on the bottom was simple enough. It isn’t an Android OS as tablets go, but I would say it is more along the lines of the Android-powered washing machines. It offers quick scrolling through book covers, and provides the up and down navigation when scrolling through book titles in the store and in your collection.

I checked out the e-store, and the free daily book options. Both were simple enough, and were good features to have on a device. You get a free book every week, 52 weeks a year with the Nook. This is on top of the public domain books available, to the tune of more than 500,000 titles. The books were fairly easy to find.

I wasn’t as happy with the font choices though. You have a few sizes to choose from, and a couple of pre-set fonts, but there are no shading options to make it easier to read. Being e-Ink that is not a huge deal, but the Kindle does offer the black screen and white text. The nook is stuck on gray screen and black text.

All-in-all, I still think this is a good device. The free 3G and free Wi-Fi are great features. The books are easy to access, and there are lots of available titles. There are magazine options for single use or subscriptions. The Nook even outdoes the Sony Reader in some respects, namely being the color navigation screen. I am a fan of e-Ink, and that brings the Nook up on my list of possible purchases. I am interested in seeing what happens to the price in the near future though. With tablets gunning for it, regardless of whether or not they are comparable, the prices are likely going to need to drop significantly to keep e-Ink as a viable option. I hope that it can stand on its own however. It makes books much easier to read without having to worry about glare and eye strain. Having spent more time with it, I still recommend it. It may not be the ultimate gadget for tech-nerds like myself, but I did enjoy playing with it and seeing what it had to offer.