When The Print Guy Goes All Digitally Or Something

Jan 19, 2011 by

I follow the simple path, especially when it comes to reading. I’m one who believes books are pretty good devices for, well, reading books.

Yet for a couple of reasons noted below, I have gone off and purchased an e-reader. And no, it was not an iPad or Ipad or IPad or whatever that acronym is. Never can remember, and does it really matter?

Nope, I got the new Barnes and Noble reader, known as the Nook Color. And yes, “color” as in it has a color screen and not just black and white like all the other e-readers.

And actually the Little Black Dress was the one who convinced me, and not primarily for the book part. I read a lot, a lot on my iPhone, Iphone, IPhone or whatever it is. Basically my mobile office. But hours of e-mail, Twitter, blogging and Google Reader, and yes, books, on a screen about the size of a large stamp gets the old eyes tired.

The main selling point, at least for me, was the 7-inch screen and the ability to surf the web – with either a full browser or mobile version.

I promise not to bore you with all the tech specs, but rather focus on the pros and cons of said device, if you are in the market for something like this.

First, it’s pretty cool looking. It’s hefty in terms of solid, but weighs much less than a netbook. It’s just under a pound, the iPad, Ipad (oh, never mind) is 1.5 pounds. As I mentioned, screen is 7 inches, iPad is just under 10 inches. The Nook Color is pretty close in size to the various Kindles, but weighs twice as much as the Kindle 3, but less than the Kindle DX.

Okay, that was a few tech specs, but that’s it.

The Nook Color apparently can hold about 6,000 books. I for one am already tired of everyone comparing/bragging about how many books their specific device can hold. Reading one book a day, every day, means I’d get through those 6,000 in a little more than 16 years.

Seriously, does anyone need to be carting around more than say, 50 books?

Furthermore, I realize people have more than one book going at a time. I do the same. But let’s face it, you’re only actually reading one book at a time. None of these devices, Nook included, has split screens. And if you are actually reading two books at once, well, I’m sorta impressed, but don’t understand why.

Let’s bring up what critics will call the big drawback – battery life. Kindle lovers will point out their new version can go like 7.64 years without a charge. The Nook Color is rated at 8 hours.

So far, that just hasn’t been a problem for me. Over the last three days, I’ve completed one book, started another, spent about two hours a day going through various RSS feeds, email and what not. I’ve still got 40 percent left.  Now, if you are going to be stranded on the clichéd deserted island for a month, bring the Kindle. Otherwise, I’m not too concerned. It’s getting better battery life than my iPhone.

Now for some positives. One, you’re tied in to Barnes and Noble, meaning you have more than 2 million books to choose from, which is way more than Apple or Amazon. Two, when you go into a B&N store, you can actually select a book and read it on your Nook for an hour – for free. Every day. Third, you can lend a book you purchase to a friend. Fourth, it has audio. Now it’s not a Bose system in terms of sound, but you can listen to music through the back speaker or plug in ear phones. And yes, you can upload your own tunes to it.  Fifth, you can read in all sorts of fonts, font sizes and colored backgrounds.

Another pro/con is the screen.  It’s more like a computer screen, meaning it’s not quite as easy to read in direct sunlight as the black and white e-ink readers. However, because it’s color it’s backlit, meaning you can read it in the dark. I’ve found the color to be pretty awesome and am thoroughly enjoying it.

The Nook Color runs on the Android system (Google). It’s currently at a lower software version, meaning it does not have access to Google’s Marketplace (iPhone’s App store). However, that’s supposed to change sometime this first quarter, and if it does, this little device becomes a mini-tablet.

In other words, right now you can’t add any apps. Well, you can, but it’s cheating; or in computer-speak, “rooting.” That basically means you do all sorts of no-no’s to your Nook with the software and voila, you have all the Google apps. I’ve got a friend who did that, and I have to admit, it’s pretty cool.

But I’ll wait for B&N to – hopefully – release a version soon that gives us access. Doing so makes the Nook Color a slightly smaller version of the iPad. Not all  the bells and whistles, but pretty darn close.

One reason is the Color version sells for $249 – or what it costs me to gas up the Suburban. The lowest priced iPad is more than twice that.  And to be honest, I like to spread my stuff around. Apple already has me with the iPhone, I just don’t want to give them everything in their quest for world domination.

Finally, the Nook Color is wi-fi only. For some who want complete mobility, as in 3G, that might be a drawback. But I primarily do my web surfing at home, which has wi-fi. I can still get e-mail on my iPhone on the road so to speak so that’s not an issue for me. Plus, I can read what I’ve downloaded, including books, anywhere. That’s provided I don’t read for more than eight hours or so and drain that tiny battery. I’ve yet to read eight hours at one time any time.

Is it right for you? That depends on what you want. But if you are looking for a very nice e-reader that also has great web browsing capabilities and costs less than half of an iPad, I’d suggest you give it a serious look.


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