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Nook Simple Touch announced

Looks like a worthy competitor to the 10-month-old Kindle 3, as reported by Ars Technica:

Indeed, while the new Nook is quite Kindle-like in appearance and functionality, the company went to great lengths to tell the audience how inferior Amazon’s e-reader is to the Nook. “Kindle 3 has 38 buttons. That’s 37 more than the all-new Nook,” Lynch said, adding that so many buttons “assault the user.”

Barnes & Noble abandoned the problematic dual-screen approach of the previous e-ink Nook and adopted an infrared touch screen, allowing them to cut off the entire lower section of the device — a huge advantage, at least aesthetically, over the Kindle.

Touch e-ink screens aren’t new — Sony has offered them for years — but before the most recent models, they’ve required touch-sensitive films over the e-ink screens, causing problems with contrast, sharpness, and glare. But the current generation of infrared touch screens, as implemented by Sony, Kobo, and now Barnes & Noble, supposedly work well.

This Is My Next has great pictures and a video of the new Nook. Points worth noting so far:

I’ve preordered it so I can test it for Instapaper use, and I’ll post a review if it’s noteworthy. I’m also curious to see how Amazon responds with the next e-ink Kindle, since the Kindle 3 is relatively old. But today, the Nook looks like the better-designed device.