Monday, August 01, 2011

REVIEW: The Nook Color from Barnes and Noble

To this point my reviews have been of books. But my wife bought me a Nook Color from Barnes and Noble for Father's Day this year, and I thought I'd share the wealth of my experience regarding this e-reader device.

The Nook Color is a full-color 7-inch touchscreen device. It has a high-resolution screen with 16 million colors. The words and images are sharp, and the font size is adjustable. Barnes and Noble have over 2 million titles available to download from their store, and with the ability to sync from a computer, you can add epub books from any source ( and others). The Nook is also compatible with pdf files, but the built in pdf reader is not very user-friendly. For 99 cents the user can download an application ("pdf reader") that gives you a more user-friendly pdf experience, but it only works (despite claims by the app provider) when the pdf files are on a micro SD card (which does not come with the Nook Color) in the built-in micro SD slot.

Using the micro SD slot, I've also been able to watch mp4 files on the Nook Color. Thus far I've only watched classic Doctor Who episodes, so the source pictures weren't the best to begin with. The built-in speaker isn't spectacular, but it's enough to watch shows or listen to music while you read, and the device does have a built-in stereo headphone jack. Pandora is provided in your app menu, so those of you who use that for your music experience will not be disappointed.

It's been about two months now that I've had the device, and to this point I have been quite impressed. By the time I received the Nook Color, Barnes and Noble had upgraded the device into a veritable Android tablet. As it stands, the Android application store is not accessible; but Barnes and Noble has its own application store where one can find games, practical applications, and more. For example, instead of buying a New King James Version or using the built-in wi-fi to access, I downloaded a $5.99 application called "NKJV Bible", strangely enough. I can access the Bible by chapter, add notes, highlight text and more.

The reader itself is intuitive. You turn the pages in your epub format books the same way you turn the pages in a print book: by swiping the page you just read from right to left. As I said, the words appear crisp and clear. I've even converted my own novel into an epub file, and it's a novel experience (pardon the pun) to read my own novel in electronic format.

The device is solidly constructed. The screen, of course, has all the fragility of your average touchscreen, but the user can purchase a screen-protector that does not interfere with the function of the screen.

Oh, and I have downloaded the $2.99 Angry Birds application. Surprise, surprise.

There are a number of things I haven't tried to do yet with the device. I don't use the Nook Friends application, so I don't know how the book lending works. I don't use the built-in web browser much, as I have gotten used to using my phone for my browsing--and the same goes for the built in e-mail application.

Even within those limitations, I would highly recommend the Nook Color, especially for someone who travels. I took mine with me to a youth conference, and it was nice to have over 200 books with me (with the space for more) while carrying only the weight of one book. It also comes in handy around my children, as my son is rough on paper books but has not been able to destroy the device as of yet. (Give him time, though, as he is a highly determined kid!)

(Oh, and if you have a Nook Color and want to preview my novel in epub format, let me know. Always looking for readers!)

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