Barnes & Noble just announced the newest Nook, a watered-down version of the Nook Color, which will replace the first generation Nook (Wi-Fi) and the second generation (Wi-Fi + 3G).
Why might people get excited about this simplified version of the eReader?It has a touch screen. Barnes & Noble is taking its first step into the tablet market (iPad’s playground) 1.
Bringing things back to basics is the idea behind the Nook Touch, which consumers can own on June 10th for $139. The New York Times sums it up nicely: “The lighter, slimmer, cheaper new version of Barnes & Noble’s e-reader has a black-and-white touch screen and aims squarely at the ’grandma’ demographic — or at least customers craving a simpler e-book reader2.”
Earlier this week I talked about the Kobo being a budget-conscious choice for less tech-savvy people. Well, B&N seems to want in on that market of people, too. This new eReader is an obvious blow to B&N’s major competitors: Amazon and Borders.
I also bashed the Kobo for not having a keyboard. Well, B&N seems to think that’s the right way to go if it wants to please those new to eReaders. B&N CEO William Lynch boasts, “The Kindle 3 has 38 buttons. That’s 37 more than the all-new Nook.”
This time around, B&N is trying to best its competitors in hardware design. Both the Nook and the Kindle use Pearl e-ink screens to display “natural feeling” text3 for a better reading experience (I still find it ironic that digital developers want you to feel like you’re not using digital devices). They also have the same size screen.
With a touch screen, B&N can put the same size screen on a smaller device (35% lighter and 15% thinner than the original Nook), while also improving the “natural feel of the device.” It almost feels like you’re actually flipping pages this time around.
Due to the simplicity of the Nook Touch (no 3G or color screen), the battery can last up to two months without charging. This device is perfect for constant travelers who want to use their Nooks on 5-hour flights.
Has the Nook taken the upper hand in the race for the world’s best eReader (not unlike the space race to some consumers)? The Kobo is still cheaper ($99) and has many of the same features, like Wi-Fi. What it doesn’t have is B&N’s trustworthy online bookstore and years of quality service. B&N is the Goliath in this match-up.
As far as the Kindle goes, consumers can own one for $114, but with advertisements on the menu screen and screensaver, pretty soon the Kindle will look like a NASCAR vehicle. The Kindle was the first of the “Big Three” to enter the eReader market, but can it keep up with B&N’s initiative? This will be up to the consumers to decide.