30-Seconds With The Nook Color
Around this time in 2009, I did a quick — and admittedly scathing — review of the Barnes and Noble Nook. With the Holiday 2010 season upon us, Barnes and Noble have released their new incarnation, the Nook Color. Should you buy this little Android-powered tablet, or hold off for something else? Read on…
A bright and vivid 7-inch touchscreen is the first thing you’ll notice, and the screen looks crisp, from all angles, too. Barnes and Noble shoved a 1024×600 resolution into the 7-inch screen, which means it’s only slightly smaller resolution than the iPad, but a much better DPI for reading. So Barnes and Noble got the first thing right about digital reading displays. That’s good.
Also, the build quality — although all plastic — feels solid. I could stand to drop this once or twice from perhaps the bed to the floor, and not worry.
The device features a singular “Nook” button in the center which pulls up the home menu on the bottom to navigate through the device. The GUI is an interesting blend of the Android home screen and a bookshelf. You don’t have app icons, instead, you drag your books and magazines onto the “shelf” (which itself is really just home screens to scroll through.) The picture above (see the full picture here) shows off the web browser, proudly displaying our home page. And the 30-second verdict?
This thing is slow. Everything about it, except turning pages while reading a book is slow, and that’s sad. Web pages, even though it’s running Android 2.1, load incredibly slow. Pinch to zoom doesn’t work on web pages, but it does work on magazines — and it stutters like crazy (but oddly does not dithering the image to compensate). Bringing up the home menu, sifting through folders, and scrolling around all feel just a little too choppy.
Now, here’s the thing: I can’t tell if it’s great software hampered by bad hardware, or if the software is just half-baked. With an 800Mhz ARM CPU, 512MB of RAM and the ability to play MP4 movies, you would think this would have a bit more ‘oomph’ to it. That leads me to believe it’s software based, considering my original Droid came stocked at 550Mhz and was zippier than this.
With WiFi being the only connectivity on board, the Nook Color clocks in at $249, which feels just a little overpriced for what you’re getting. $199 would be the sweet spot, in my humble opinion. But if you’re looking for a color Android tablet which will no doubt have plenty of expandability (either from the Android community, or Barnes and Noble) this might be the right device for you. Just remember — it’s not an iPad — it’s really for reading.
Lastly, two different associates were overly-friendly to help me out with the Nook Color. I politely told them “I’m a pretty geeky guy, I’m good.” So I can’t help but feel like Barnes and Noble wants people to get excited about the Nook, especially since I saw a 3rd associate with a customer outside Barnes and Noble letting the customer hold the demo unit (security cord attached, but unconnected) in the light.