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Sunday, January 30, 2011

My NookColor E-Reader

I recently had the opportunity to spend some of the final dollars available to me for classroom technology through a 2-year grant from the state of Washington. With it I purchased the Kindle e-reader with wi-fi and 3G, a Pandigital e-reader and the new Nook Color e-reader. I have been playing with both devices now for the past couple of months and I've come to some conclusions I thought I'd share.

This blog entr
y may begin to sound a bit like a commercial for my favorite e-reader and so you don't have to wait several paragraphs before I tell you, let me come right out and say that the Nook Color is my choice among the devices I have tried.

Now, while I have absolutely NO love for Barnes and Noble or any other predatory type of business, I must say I was totally taken in by this little gadget. I had been looking into the idea of an e-reader for some months before the Nook Color came on the market. Mostly I'd been drooling over the Kindle sold by Amazon.

When I discovered I could use my tech grant funds to purchase an e-reader or two, I thought, why not use this as an opportunity to see what's out there and how they might best be used in education. With the Kindle I purchased a couple of down loadable books and started checking out its other capabilities. Almost from the start I had some real issues. It wouldn't, for an example, allow me to do much of anything beyond using it as a book device. It is black and white (the e-ink format is a plus as it seems more realistic and reads more easily outside by the pool than devices without this technology). Another problem with the Kindle, and this is its biggest issue, is that it is proprietary, meaning that it can only download books from Amazon. Almost all the other devices out there allow down loads from other web book sellers. It also won't allow access e-books from public library systems. As I approach retirement and begin looking at less expensive options in life, this seemed a pretty good option in my mind.

Pandigital e-reader I bought through the local Kohl's department store was a color unit. It had so many issues that I erased everything off its memory and returned it for a refund. Similar in size to the Nook Color, the Pandigital device also had limitations as to who and how I could access e-books. No good!

Then, just before Christmas 2010, I discovered the Nook Color being sold in Barnes and Noble and Bes
t Buy for $245. I went in to my local B and N store and not 10 feet inside the front door was the Nook sales desk. I had a sales person all to myself to ask all my questions. She was very knowledgeable and eager to help. I walked out with one when I found out it could do nearly everything I was looking for. And what it couldn't do were issues the Nook people were already preparing to address. Here are some of the perks of the Nook Color:
  • Full color screen
  • 7" glare resistant screen
  • Non-proprietary
  • Touch screen navigation including pinch zoom
  • Allows me to down load books from my local library free
  • Allows me to purchase books from competing sources
  • Allows speedy access to Internet
  • Allows speedy access to Facebook and E-mail
  • Comes with apps for Pandora (great), chess, crosswords
  • More apps in development
  • Free wi-fi access anywhere it is free and at Barnes and Noble stores where you can read any book free for an hour
  • Get a free beverage with the coupon on the in-store w-fi system
  • Free Book Fridays
  • Free 800 tech support number
  • Automatic free device upgrades
  • The device is beautifully designed
  • Weighs about on pound
Wow! So what's wrong with the Nook Color? Well, I suppose that depends on what you were looking for to begin with. It doesn't, for an example, have the apps the Apple Ipad has (what you see is what you get). Nor the Ipad's screen size (nearly twice the size). Nor the I-pad's weight of around 2 pounds. However, the Nook folks assure us that they are working on app development and that an app store is in the offing. The Nook would be better off if it operated with a 2.2 OS instead of the current 1.1. That, too, is on its way. I think I was really looking for a mini tablet and not just an e-reader, so the Nook Color has all but given me that. It still doesn't play video (other than MPEG-4) so Netflix and Hulu are out of bounds, but I am told with the upgrade to the Android 2.2 coming later this year, the ability to use Adobe Flash will be included. That will finally put the Nook into tablet territory and make it far more competitive with the popular Apple Ipad which costs twice as much.

What I have not done is to tell you anything about the other number of e-readers on the market. Sony has a popular one. Borders Books sells the Sony as well as ones made by Kobo and Velocity.

Do your homework carefully. Ask lots of questions. What features do you want from your e-reader? Do you even need one? What's your budget, etc.?
A lot of folks are, like me, smitten with the Nook Color. In fact it just ran away with the top honors for e-gadget of the year award. We gadget hounds are a fickle lot and when the next big thing comes along our Nook Color readers will no doubt wind up in the bottom drawer of the desk with our old PDA, and other outdated devices. But for now, the Nook Color has my heart.