Nook Color

I own a Nook Color, and I love it. Previously I owned the first black and white Nook (WiFi-only model) .  Having already been a fan of eBooks for 10 years (since the days of Peanut Press and reading their eBooks on my old Palm PDAs), it was great to see companies such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble pushing the eBook market into wider acceptance. I chose the Nook over the wildly successful Kindle for a couple of reasons:

  1. I’ve always had a preference for the underdog device in a category that didn’t have mass popularity (Pocket PCs vs. Palm, Android vs. iPhone, etc.).
  2. The Nook’s unique integration with brick and mortar Barnes and Noble stores (being able to read any book off the virtual shelves while in a store for up to an hour each; special content available while in a store; deals / freebies on cafe items) held a lot of appeal for me.

The Nook Color improved upon the standard Nook in a number of ways. The UI was much better, in particular when it came to organizing shelves for your books. The ability to read at night without any lights was a boon. Also, it had support for magazines and newspapers. It was essentially a light Android tablet for a great price.

Although Amazon has fired back with the Kindle Fire, its color tablet competitor (and Barnes and Noble responded with the updated version of the Nook Color, called the Nook Tablet), the NC remains a competitive device in the eReader space. Barnes and Noble just released a software update for the device, version 1.4.1, which adds a number of improvements (they claim over 100 improvements / fixes are in this release). I’ve been using it for a couple of days and here are some impressions:

  1. Netflix & Hulu Plus support. I don’t use Hulu, so I can’t speak to that, but I was waiting for some Netflix love. While I still regard the Nook Color as an eReader first and foremost, the additional functionality it provides (in particular with web browsing and video viewing) makes it hugely convenient to have. Netflix support is pretty much what you’d expect; though in standard definition (which doesn’t bother me), Netflix streaming works mostly well. There are a couple of times where the video will lag a little, but it catches up quickly. The experience is not as consistently smooth as I would like, but it works extremely well, and I think we just need to see Netflix put out an update or two to smooth out the wrinkles. Overall, it’s a great addition.
  2. The “N” button functionality has changed. Instead of bringing you to the Home screen with a click, it will bring up the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, giving you options to take your Home screen, Library, Store, Web, and more. A double-click of the “N” button will take you to the Home screen. I actually like this change.
  3. Updated Shelves. The Shelves now sort by Date Added, and you can actually click on a button to view the contents of your Shelf in a new window. Doing so will allow you to sort the books how you want (I do it by Name).
  4. Word Lookup.  Looking up a word now allows you to search for a new word without having to leave the screen. This is a nice touch.
  5. The Store has received a visual makeover, which was really needed. Searching for apps is much improved, and it overall easier to look for content.
  6. You can now read in landscape mode. I won’t be using this but apparently others were hoping for this.
  7. Nook Comics, for all the hype, is a bit of a disappointment. Why they don’t just use ComiXology is beyond me. There are Marvel comics to choose from, as well as a bunch of manga, but there is not an actual Comics app (that I have seen) to use; it’s simply a marketing term. Some comics are actually apps in themselves. Although I have not tested the .CBZ support (yet). DC is out of the fold for now, thanks to the spat these two are involved in.

Overall, much props to Barnes and Noble for releasing a software update to the Nook Color that puts it in line with the Nook Tablet from a functionality standpoint. While the Tablet has superior hardware specs under the hood, the Color is still a very capable reader that just got even better.

Any other Nook owners out there? If so, what do you think of the 1.4.1 update?

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