Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7-inch tablet Review

Considering that Barnes & Noble had a late start in the ebook reader industry compared with its most formidable competition, the Amazon Kindle, it’s pretty impressive that they were able to come up with a colored edition tablet only a year after the original Nook was first launched.

In this Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7-inch tablet review, we will weigh in on this colored, multi-touch gadget that promises the “ultimate reading experience.”

Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7-inch tablet review

Size

8.1" x 5" x 0.48"

Weight

15.8 ounces

Display

7-inch diagonal

Display Type

VividView Color Touchscreen

Battery Life

8 hours with wireless off

Operating Sytem

Android 2.1

Storage

8GB internal memory for 6,000 books; expandable memory up to 32GB

Content Selection

Over 2 million titles

Wi-Fi

Yes

Wireless Coverage

US only

File Formats Supported

EPUB, PDF, PDB, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, AAC, MP4

Book Lending

Yes

Sync Across Devices

Yes

Password Protection

Yes

Rating

Design

At first glance, it’s apparent that the Nook Color is unlike any other ebook readers we’ve seen so far. With its color touch screen, contemporary design, and sleek finish, it looks more like a Samsung Galaxy rival than that of the Kindle or Sony Reader.

At 8.1 inches long, 5 inches wide, just less than half an inch thick, and tipping the scales at 15.8 ounces, it should feel quite solid in the hands without being bulky.

The device’s front frame is made of hard plastic with a matte-like finish, while the rear portion comes with a smooth, rubber backing.

The small hook at the lower left-hand corner of the unit where a finger or signature charms can slip through gives the elegantly built device a unique vibe.

As one would anticipate, the 7-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution LED-backlit color screen takes up most of the front portion of this reader.

Note that the In-Plane Switching (IPS) display utilized here is the same screen technology used in Apple’s iPads and iMacs. Barnes & Noble, however, has customized the device with its proprietary VividView technology which fully laminates the screen coating, thereby significantly reducing the glare.

Performance and Navigation

The B&N Color device custom software is based on Android 2.1, which is a bit of a letdown as most Android devices are now on the 2.2 platform, and version 2.3 is just around the corner.

But if you have few expectations as to how the Android OS really impacts on a gadget’s functionality, then you should have few complaints with the ebooks-reader, performance-wise.

Those who’ve had some hands-on time with the device are satisfied with its zippy performance (though not quite at the iPad level, they say) and the quickness of its touch responses.

The Color has essentially three home screens which you can toggle to one after another. One where you can the books and magazines you’re currently reading (the default landing page), another where you can find the content recently added or downloaded, and still another where you can get access to other features of the ebook reader.

And wherever page or screen you are on, you can find a small tab at the bottom of the screen and open it up to go to any of the Nook’s usual features such as Library, Shop, Web, or Settings.

At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find a physical button – the stylized n or Nook logo – to make it easier to return to the home or landing screen.

Page turns are said to be fast, the images clear thanks to the high-resolution display that utilizes 16 million colors, and the text crisp with 6 font size options.

As with any ebook reader, personal documents can be loaded on to this gadget, and so far, Nook Color reviews have been raving about how looking over PDFs and browsing through galleries, complete with pinching and zooming, have been very trouble-free on the Color device.

Other Features

Obviously, Barnes & Noble didn’t come out with a full color LED touch screen ebook reader without added functionality in mind.

So it’s no surprise that the color edition of the Nook offers features that aren’t standard ereader fare.

Audio and video playbacks, Pandora music streaming, web browsing (and therefore email, Facebook, and Twitter), and games are expected to be part and parcel of the device experience.

But however tablet-like this device may seem, Barnes & Noble won’t let you easily forget that the device is, more than anything else, an ebook reader.

Its color touch screen only serves to enhance the user’s reading experience particularly when it comes to magazines, periodicals, newspapers, and children’s books.

In fact, the company is pushing to dominate the kids’ books market with the introduction of the Nook Kids brand that currently has over a hundred digital picture books, designed to vividly come to life on colored ereaders like this one and the iPad.

As with the original Nook, exchanging ebooks with fellow users is possible with the LendMe technology, while the NookFriends feature makes it easy to share meaningful lines and passages through Facebook or Twitter.

Nook Simple Touch Review

Nook Color Pros and Cons

Pros

Since its launch late last year, the Color device has created a lot of buzz which doesn’t really come as much of a surprise.

Its more-than-adequate software that accounts for a zippy response, smartly packaged in a stylish frame, and coupled with 8GB of internal memory (with expansion slot), Wi-Fi connectivity, and a neat set of exclusive Barnes & Noble features make for a device that would generate a lot of interest for both ebook-reading enthusiasts and gadget lovers.

Of course, the fact that it costs just $50 more than the e-ink Nook, $150 less than the Samsung Galaxy tab, and is half the price of the entry-level iPad is a big part of the attraction.

Cons

But the Nook Color is not without its areas for improvement. For instance, the battery life which is currently at 8 hours on a single charge with the wireless off leaves a lot to be desired especially if you compare it with the capability of most e-ink ebook readers. Its battery is also not replaceable, unlike the Nook.

Plus, despite its VividView treatment, the IPS display remains pretty reflective, thus, it still doesn’t quite match up to e-ink technology when it comes to providing a glare-free reading experience.

And if you’re after more exciting apps, you’d have to wait a bit longer as it doesn’t come with a lot of applications yet, and has no access to the Android Marketplace or any similar app store.

Nook Color 7 Tablet Review: The Verdict

So is it an ebook reader or is it a tablet? As with those who’ve taken a close look at this device, this review says it’s both.

The larger color touch display gives it the added functionality of a tablet PC at only a fraction of the cost, while its obvious emphasis on ereading features such as Nook Kids, Nook Friends, NookBook Personal Shopping, and LendMe hone in on the fact that, it is an ebook reader first and foremost.

But is this “reader’s tablet” as Barnes & Noble aptly put it, in for the long haul? The way this Nook Color review sees it, gadget geeks may see it as a poor substitute for a full-blown tablet, while book lovers may not want to sacrifice the closest-to-a-real-book reading experience e-ink technology offers.

If your reading appetite extends to checking out most full-color magazines on the stands on a regular basis, then this ebook reader may be right for you.

However, if you are on the lookout for an ebook reading device that is more suitable for long-form reading, then you’d best check out first an Amazon Kindle or the e-ink Nook.