The Barnes & Noble Nook Color lands halfway between an e-book reader and a tablet computer -- and experts say it's a good compromise. Its main claim to fame is its 7-inch, backlit color touch screen, which testers say displays text a little more crisply and readably than the 9.7-inch Apple iPad 2 (*Est. $400 and up) , though the latest Apple tablet computer -- the new iPad (*Est. $500 and up) -- is equipped with a high-resolution Retina display that is flooring reviewers with its ability to render text. It's also not quite as easy on the eyes as the grayscale E Ink screens you'll find on the regular Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch (Est. $80) and Amazon Kindle (Est. $70 and up) , which aren't backlit and look more like actual paper. Of course, the Nook Color displays magazines and books in full color, which ordinary e-book readers can't do. It also plays video, including Flash video, and can stream video from Netflix.
Unlike the iPad 2, Kindle and regular Nook, the Nook Color doesn't offer 3G connectivity, let alone the 4G radio found in the new iPad, but testers say its built-in Wi-Fi provides fast book downloads and reasonably fast web browsing (testers say it doesn't work as snappily as an iPad, however). You can buy books from Barnes & Noble's two-million-book e-bookstore, and the Nook Color also reads the widely used ePub format, so you can download from public libraries and competing e-book stores.
Weight and battery life are more tablet computer than e-reader, testers say. The Nook Color weighs 15.8 ounces -- that's lighter than the near-24-ounce iPad or iPad 2, but reviewers say they still wound up propping the Nook Color against something to rest their wrists (not a problem with the 8.7-ounce Kindle). And while the Kindle can last up to a month on a single battery charge, the Nook Color is rated for only eight hours.
Although it's an Android device, the Nook Color's curated app store is limited, and reviews caution that it is not a full-fledged tablet. However, they say it does provide a very good e-book experience, making it a good choice for people who want a color reader that can also browse the web.
We found the first full tests of the Barnes & Noble Nook Color at PCMag.com, Laptop Magazine, CNET, Gizmodo.com and ConsumerReports.org. All of the reviews do a good job describing how the Nook Color fits in between black-and-white e-book readers (like the regular Nook and Amazon Kindle) and fully developed tablets (like the Apple iPad and iPad 2).
The Barnes & Noble Nook Color wins PCMag.com's Editors' Choice award. Testers like its colorful touch screen and intuitive navigation. Although it makes some compromises -- battery life is shorter than a regular e-book reader, for example -- it's "a perfectly amiable reading companion if you want to see your books in full color."
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook Color, Dan Costa and David Pierce, Nov. 16, 2010
2. Laptop Magazine
The Barnes & Noble Nook Color is a great color e-reader with a beautiful, easy-to-use touch screen and nice extras like web browsing, K. T. Bradford concludes after a full test. It's not a full-fledged tablet like the iPad, but it also costs a lot less, making it a good choice for buyers who want to focus on reading.
Review: Barnes and Noble Nook Color Review, K. T. Bradford, Nov. 16, 2010
With its "capable color touchscreen," useful extras and low price, the Barnes & Noble Nook Color earns a spot on CNET's list of the best e-book readers. Like other reviewers, David Carnoy dings the Nook Color for its low battery life and dearth of apps in this full review. It's worth noting that a later update added a curated app store for the device.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook Color, David Carnoy, Oct. 3, 2011
More "a very fancy e-book reader" than a stripped-down tablet, the Barnes & Noble Nook Color still impresses tester Matt Buchanan. It has its flaws -- slow reactions, a limited web browser and a slightly heavy body -- but it does more than a normal E Ink reader.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook Color Review: A Screen Caught Between Two Worlds, Matt Buchanan, Nov. 16, 2010
5. PC World
Reviewer Melissa J. Perenson touches on almost every aspect of the Barnes & Noble Nook Color in this exhaustive review, which is much longer than the ones typically found in PC World. Overall, she finds a lot to like, especially the availability of periodicals and kids' books, but she doesn't appreciate the proprietary MicroUSB charging port and wishes that the LED display had more pixels-per-inch to improve clarity to iPhone 4 levels.
Review: Barnes & Noble Nook Color, Nov. 16, 2010
ConsumerReports.org tests a number of e-book readers from multiple brands, including the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. A number of factors are rated, including readability, versatility, responsiveness, page turn, navigation and file support.
Review: E-book Readers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org