2010 is shaping up to be the year that media consumption tablets go mainstream. In fact, according to Amazon, the Kindle already has. Obviously, most of our current attention is focused on the iPad… and Macmillan jacking eBook prices by 50%. (Which is probably unsustainable, despite their hopes.) But a co-worker received a Nook ($259) for Christmas, and I asked her to bring it in so I could examine it outside the confines of a tradeshow floor or Barnes & Noble, proper.
First off, as you can clearly see, the Nook is far more physically attractive than the Kindle ($259). Beyond the 6″ E Ink display, it also quite cleverly integrates a color capacitive touchscreen to handle interaction. However, as many have noted (including our resident e-book expert) the initial software is way too slow. I can overlook the blinky E Ink page refreshes, but the boot times and tap-to-wait is a killer. Which makes me appreciate the simple competence of the Kindle even more. The hardware nav buttons on the Nook require more pressure than Kindle’s, and maybe more than I’d like. But it probably results in fewer inadvertent page turns. Of course, Barnes & Noble’s not-so-secret weapon is digital book lending… should the publishers universally (or mostly) get on board with it. But if/once they do, you can bet Amazon will likewise implement similar functionality.
Regardless, single function devices like the Kindle and Nook will need to come in lower given Apple’s aggressive iPad pricing. (Better yet, follow in Audible’s footsteps to give away units in exchange for a book subscription plan.) And support richer, more complex content… As newspaper and periodical presentation and interaction could be greatly enhanced. If either of these guys drop to $199 and provide an RSS reader (say 10 subs on the house, without additional download fees) or introduce a $99 – $129 non-cellular model, I’d buy a pair. And a few as gifts. Otherwise, I’m staying on the sidelines until the path forward is a bit more clear.
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