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:
- They’re saying it has only one button, but there are actually five: the left and right sides, like the Kindle and prior Nook, have page-turning buttons that are apparently disabled by default and can be enabled in the Nook’s settings. (That’s weird.)
- The e-ink “blink” is almost completely gone when turning pages in text. It’s still present when entering or leaving most other screens, so they’re probably doing a lot of tricks to get it to work as it does. But this looks like a huge accomplishment that will be a major selling point to people new to e-ink.
- They have improved but not solved the case-clip problem. The new case (photo) clips around the entire top and bottom edges of the Nook. This will be more secure than spanning fabric bands diagonally across the corners, but not as secure (or compact) as Kindle cases, which clip into dedicated holes in the Kindle’s left side.
- The screen is inset very deeply into the bezel (photo), presumably to accommodate the optical sensors for the touch screen. This could be annoying when tapping edge targets or wiping dust and fingerprints off of the screen.
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.