But there's a potential game-changer on the holiday shopping horizon: the Barnes & Noble Nook (*Est. $260). Due to be released at the end of November, the Nook has many tech experts proclaiming it a potential Amazon Kindle killer. Since none of these experts have actually tested the Barnes & Noble Nook, these proclamations are based strictly on feature comparisons. Once the Nook hits store shelves, these opinions may be vastly different.
Experts agree that the Barnes & Noble Nook has some significant features that will make it an attractive alternative to the Amazon Kindle 2. For one, the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader includes a 3.5-inch color touch screen for navigation, in addition to the primary 6-inch reading display (which is not touch-sensitive). Another notable feature is the Barnes & Noble Nook's lending functionality, which allows users to share select ebooks with friends for free for 14 days. Only some books will be available for lending, and there's no word yet on how many titles will be included. Unlike the Amazon Kindle 2, the Barnes & Noble Nook includes a memory card slot to increase the available storage to 16 GB, and it supports native PDF and ePub files.
There are a few areas where the Amazon Kindle 2 continues to reign supreme. The Barnes & Noble Nook's stated battery life of 10 days is lengthy, but shorter than the Amazon Kindle 2's stated 14 days; both estimates decrease dramatically if wireless is activated. The Barnes & Noble Nook lacks a web browser, although it does include built-in AT&T 3G and Wi-Fi for downloading ebooks. It also doesn't include the Amazon Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature. Professional test-based reviews of the Barnes & Noble Nook will be included in a future update to this report, but it's already clear that the e-reader wars are about to get very interesting.