Although there have been aspects of all the devices I have reviewed that I really like, Barnes & Noble’s NOOKcolor is the first one I think I might actually purchase. Or at least include in my letter to Santa Claus (I should probably send that out since there’s only a week or so left until the big day).

The NOOKcolor is one of the coolest eBook readers/multimedia devices I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. The love affair  begins in its basic yet stylish design. The only tactile buttons are to turn the device on or off, adjust the volume, and the ‘n’ which acts as the home button. In addition, you have a standard headphone jack and a Micro USB port. The last noticeable factor on the physical side is that it’s hefty. At 15.8 ounces it might be the heaviest eBook Reader I’ve seen.

Now let’s get into the meat of the NOOKcolor – the software, interface, and functionality (not necessarily in that order). It’s obvious that this device is not using the E-Ink technology that most of us have come to enjoy. This primarily stems from consumers begging for an LCD screen eBook reader. The 7” full touchscreen uses millions of colors making cover images, websites, and photos sharp and beautiful. I transferred Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero and the cover image is stunning. The touchscreen functionality on the device we have is very responsive even when browsing the web. You barely need to swipe your finger to change pages.

However with a full color LCD screen comes a pretty major setback – short battery life. Don’t expect days of reading without charging the device. I’ve had this one on and off for the past two days and it currently has 55% battery life left. The most voracious reader or someone that surfs the Internet heavily will need to keep their chargers with them.

If you are used to the original NOOK, you will notice the interface is slightly different however you now have the ability to make different bookshelves and organize your titles. While you are reading a book, tap the center of the screen to make options appear which allow you to create bookmarks, change the font/font size, and brightness.

The NOOKcolor is currently running a variation of Android OS 2.1. It’s a closed version, so you won’t be able to download apps from Android Marketplace or have all the same features as your Droid Aris. As far as I can tell Barnes & Noble doesn’t plan on offering full access to Android Marketplace any time soon.

There are many other neat features that I won’t get into but there’s one last thing I need mention. When you transfer your Adobe EPUB and Adobe PDF eBooks to your NOOKcolor, they will be found under the ‘my files’ option in a folder for ‘Digital Editions’. Keep in mind you are able to move them to a different folder once they are on the device. Also, I transferred and listened to an MP3 audiobook and it was a much nicer experience than on a traditional eBook reader.

So bottom line, at $249, it’s on the more expensive side but you get a lot for your money. It’s not a dedicated eBook reader but it’s not a tablet either.

It has officially been added to my Christmas list for this year. Now all I have to do is get my husband to read this post…

Megan Greer is a project manager for OverDrive.

3 Responses to “Review: NOOKcolor is at the top of my list”

  1. Eileen Chandler

    We (CLAMS) just bought a color nook so I can use it for training workshops for libraries and staff. I have a b&w nook myself. I agree with you Megan, the color nook is wonderful and is much more appealing (in my opinion) than the b&w.
    It also wowed my 16 year old daughter who previously had no interest in using the b&w nook. I’m sure it would make a great gift for any adult or teen who enjoys reading. I’ve heard rumors that Barnes & Noble will release an upgrade to increase battery life and allow more apps. My New Year wish is that they make it possible to download ebooks directly on the nook. After all it has web access – all that’s needed is Adobe Digital Editions, right? If OverDrive folks have any updates on this I’d love to hear about it.

  2. Kathy Petlewski

    We also bought a variety of devices for our library (Plymouth District Library)to train staff and patrons. I tried several e-readers before getting to the Color Nook. Wow – what a difference in reading comfort for me. The constant flashing of the screen each time I turned the pages on the E-Ink devices gave me a headache – literally. With the Color Nook I’ve experienced none of those problems. I love the touch screen that seamlessly moves the page without any change in the background. I agree that the short battery life is a huge drawback, especially if you’re on vacation. Having tried the original Nook, the Sony Reader, the Kindle and the Kobo, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather read for eight hours on the LCD screen than several days on the E-Ink device. We just turned on our iPad for the first time yesterday and downloaded the OverDrive Media Console. It’s my New Year’s wish that OverDrive make an iPad-specific app rather than one for iPhone/iPad. The normal viewing on the iPad screen is the size of an iPhone screen. If you magnify it to a full page view (to take advantage of the iPad size) the text loses clarity and looks fuzzy around the edges. This was a huge disappointment to me!

  3. Linda Hart

    @Kathy Petlewski
    Good point about the flashing of the e-ink screens, Kathy. To me, that’s more of a problem than the backlighting of the Color Nook, which as you say can be adjusted. I like the sharp contrast of the LCD.