Design & User Interface (5 out of 5)
The NOOK Color has almost the same shape and dimensions as the original NOOK. The original Nook measures 8.1 x 5.0 x 0.48 inches, whereas the NOOK Color measures 7.7 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches. The original NOOK wasn't graceless but the NOOK Color is surely more attractive than the original.
The 7-inch touchscreen is from LG and it can display more than sixteen million colors. The fonts and the images both appear exceptionally detailed and bright, especially with magazines that have high quality fonts and graphics.
Highlighting, scrolling, navigating through menus, pinch-to-zoom, and tapping letters on the keyboard all work very well. The drawback of the screen is that in direct sunlight, it is very much reflective, and smudges are much more apparent.
The NOOK Color has only four physical buttons. Just below the LCD display sits a stylized "n", which serves as the Home button. Directly below the bottom edge, the microUSB port is located. The power button sits on the left edge of the device, and at the right size, volume buttons are found. At the bottom left side of the NOOK Color, there is a little notch which Barnes & Noble call a "nook", and accepts that it has no function, but instead just stylizes the device.
Features (5 out of 5)
The NOOK Color comes w
ith a built-in 8 GB memory. There is a microSD card slot, so you can use an external memory card up to 32 GB. The NOOK Color also has a built-in Wi-Fi, a web browser and some games, including chess, Sudoku, and crosswords. You can access free exclusive content by visiting Barnes & Noble's retail stores, as well as download e-books from B&N's store.
The NOOK Color also incorporates social networking features. It has a new feature called NOOK Friends, which you can use to share your favorite passages with family and friends through email and popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
You can change the NOOK Color’s screen background color, and you can also drag e-books around to arrange them however you like. You can organize the content in several other ways, too. There are sections for newspapers, magazines, and other content like PDF and EPUB e-books, videos, images, audio, and Microsoft Office files.
The NOOK Color has a feature called AliveTouch, which kids can use to interact with pictures and words. And in addition to this, AliveTouch also reads books aloud to you.
The screen of the NOOK Color is backlit. It is helpful in reading at night, but hinders when reading in sunlight. The screen is also reflective so you can have problems reading the screen content outdoors.
For reading, the NOOK Color has several customizing options. There is a brightness adjuster, three levels of adjustment for line height and margins. The device also offers six text sizes, plenty of color themes, and font types to choose from.
Other reading features in the NOOK Color include jumping between pages and chapters, using the slider bar and table of contents, adding bookmarks, phrases and words search, dictionary, zoom in/out, and text highlighting.
The NOOK Color has support for a large number of file formats. You can open audio files (MP3, AAC, MP4), image files (PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP), and Microsoft Office files (DOC, PPT, XLS, XLS, TXT, and Office 2007 file formats).
Performance (4 out of 5)
Downloading books on the NOOK Color from the store is very fast. The average download speed you get is around 1180 Kbps. It is not as fast as the Amazon Kindle 3 (2700 Kbps) nor the Kobo.
The battery life of the NOOK Color is good. According to Barnes & Noble, the battery works for up to eight hours (this is a lot less than what the Kindle 3's battery offers) which means that you won't be able to leave your NOOK Color off the charger for weeks at a time. However, if you use the NOOK Color off and on over a two to three day period, the battery will not completely drain, even with wireless turned on most of the time.
The on-screen functions like adding and highlighting notes or tapping words to look up in the dictionary, all react faster than the original Nook. Navigating through any on-screen item is also faster, and more intuitive.
The NOOK Color has a standard microUSB port but it is rather annoying that the device won’t charge unless the cord that comes with the device is used.
Verdict (5 out of 5)
The NOOK Color is an excellent e-book reader with a lot of features. The device costs $272 from Amazon and is worth the price. Overall, the NOOK Color is a great e-book reader for consumers who want a focus on reading, and options to customize the device how they want it.
Barnes & Noble, NOOK Color Tech Specs
All images courtesy of Barnes & Noble