The much awaited Barnes & Noble announcement on March 24th has taken place and provided the marketplace with a new Nook eReader that is far better suited to compete with the Amazon Kindle than the Nook Color has so far managed. It seems like a long overdue and very welcome update to the increasingly dated original Nook offering. Due to ship before Father’s Day, specifically by June 10th if the B&N website is to be believed, we should have some more hands-on information in the near future. For now, looking at the feature list, there’s some reason to be excited about it. The feature list is almost point for point a comparison against the Kindle. Here’s what they’ve got for us:
E Ink Pearl Touch Screen
This one was a bit obvious, but finally the Nook gets a better screen. Even if B&N had done nothing besides throw the Pearl screens into the existing first-generation Nook, it’s a no-brainer. Still, glad to have it. While I’m somewhat skeptical of the usefulness of a touch screen, it’s likely to be more user-friendly than the one on the old Nook and we have to hope the implementation is smoother than the Sony equivalent. I have little doubt that it will be.
2 Month Battery Life
You say the Kindle is good for a month of reading without recharging? Then of course the Nook must be good for two! In all seriousness, do we really need to worry about how long the charge will hold once we’re over a month? My only complaint on this point is that it is misleading. In truth, all they’ve done is give us a battery with the same life as the Kindle and measured the expected battery life with an assumed 30mins of reading per day instead of the previously assumed 60mins. In response, Amazon has changed the info on the Kindle page to match. No, they didn’t change any hardware, just the metric.
Newer, Lighter, Smaller Form
One of the biggest complaints about the old Nook was the size and weight. Now, it’s shorter, lighter, and even has a dark frame to make the screen stand out more. All good news! The Nook is now around an ounce lighter, an inch shorter, and only a little over 30% thicker than the Kindle. It will be far more comfortable to read on for extended periods than the original Nook ever was.
Who Comes Out Ahead?
Well, Amazon still has a couple things going for them. More internal memory is nice, though of course the Nook still allows use of an SD card so the point is moot. There’s no 3G version of the new Nook, so that’s still a plus for the Kindle. For some reason B&N seems to have gotten rid of the web browser, so that’s something to take into account. No matter how either side tries to play things up at this point, though, it seems that we’ve got something of a tie. Unless you have very specific needs, the two are fairly even. While I would have loved to see some sort of innovation from the new Nook, at least they’re back in the game and you can’t find much wrong with the product they’re presenting us with.