So, as many of us have observed, the new Nook Simple Touch Reader was recently rated even higher than the long dominant Kindle by Consumer Reports. This is a big deal for B&N since it makes their eReader really stand out as a superior reading device again after a while of being noticeably behind, but it also works out great for the readers since close competition generally means better products and more software updates. What surprised me a bit was the fact that the new Nook seems to be set up with a few unused features in place and ready to go when they next need to bump up the competition. It’s great to see planning for the future like this.
First, we have the unannounced web browsing capabilities. They never advertised it and nobody really expected it, but the Nook has an incredibly basic browser built right in. The problems it has right now make it clear why it wasn’t advertised. It just does not seem ready for significant use. The interface is clunky and the experience is just generally sub-par even compared to other E Ink devices like the Kindle. There are two ways to interpret this. Either B&N rushed out an unfinished product and didn’t bother to disable that part of the firmware, which is possible for all I know, or what people have managed to access is actually the underlying structure of a more functional browser yet to come. I personally don’t think that the release of the new Nook was meant to have a browser at all. It seems like something Barnes & Noble was holding in reserve for the next time they needed something to trump a Kindle update in some way.
Speaking of things held in reserve, we have also learned that the Nook has unannounced and unused Bluetooth capabilities. I don’t know what to really say about this one. At first, it seemed particularly cool. I mean, actual unused hardware capabilities probably meant to be pulled out for something impressive when the situation calls for it. Maybe that’s even really the case. The problem is that I can’t think of many situations where Bluetooth would come in handy in a reading device. Any ideas? Still, it seems like a good idea in theory, I think.
While it is definitely true that the Nook got to the top for the moment simply by imitating the Kindle and dropping the deadweight of its earlier incarnation’s extras, I would say that there is potential for expansion here if customers decide they want more. For now we have a great reading device that simply falls away and lets you read. Everything the Kindle has been pulling off for a long time now. I love mine. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see, at some point, an opening up of the system in a manner similar to what happened with the Nook Color so that apps can be thrown on. I know that some of the same people who found the Nook’s Bluetooth also managed to do things like get the Kindle for Android app running on it, so the potential is there for more than we have so far.