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October 2010
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Kindle vs Nook Color

The recent announcement of the details for the NOOKcolor has some people cheering it as the future of eReaders and others groaning at it as a premature gimmick doomed to flop.  Obviously, as with most things, where you place it will be based on your needs, desires, and priorities in an eReader.  For a long while, the competition was Kindle vs Nook, but the Kindle had an advantage lately that many were hoping would be done away with in the anticipated upgrade this holiday season.  Instead, we get a variation that changes the dynamic of the comparison entirely.  Still, since the product is here, the comparison must be made!  Here’s a preliminary look at how the features stack up between the two most recent incarnations of the competing eReader lines.

Compatibility:

This point goes to the NOOKcolor.

When you think about it, that was rather inevitable.  If you have a full color Tablet-PC kind of thing with its own app store, eventually people are going to find a way to open pretty much anything you choose to put on there.  I doubt it will do everything well, but eventually everything will be possible at least.  That aside, it also comes out of the box as more openly compatible than the Kindle for two reasons.  First, and most obviously, you do get a color LCD.  That means that the sort of media integration that the Kindle apps boast on other platforms is possible right on the new eReader.  Especially good for kids books and travel guides, I would imagine.  Second, it will come with the same range of supported standard eBook formats that the previous nook offered, which were already superior to the Kindle’s.

Battery Life:

No contest, the Kindle gets it.

This is one of the most telling points for those skeptical of the new Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) device.  In order to power their screen, they lost the ability to go days or weeks at a time without a charge.  The Kindle‘s always had a slight edge over the nook when it comes to battery life, but when you’re talking about seven days without charging instead of ten you’re really just nitpicking.  It doesn’t matter anymore beyond saying that you don’t charge much.  Now, though, the new Nook will require pretty much daily charging if you put it to any sort of regular use.  This could be a pain, and will definitely make the device less fun on vacations and such.

Connectivity:

The Kindle has this one too, at least potentially.

One of the more surprising exclusions from the NOOKcolor announcement is 3G compatibility. This is probably one of the most over-talked and under-used features of either the Kindle or the nook, especially since WiFi coverage is so easily accessible these days, but I’ve found that it can be a real pain to not have it when you need it.  I wouldn’t say it’s an essential feature.  It’s definitely nice to not be paying for it on every new eReader I grab.  To not even have the option, however, is a bit disappointing.

Capacity:

This one’s a draw.

There are too many factors in this consideration to make it a straight Kindle vs nook comparison.  Much as it would be great to say that yes, the NOOKcolor has 8gb of internal storage to the Kindle‘s 4gb and has an expansion slot for more memory, there is the unavoidable fact that with the NOOKcolor you will be concerned with a lot more than how many plain text eBooks you can store.  Color documents, applications, potentially even embedded video, they all come with a much greater cost in terms of storage space that might well mean your average user gets far less out of their Nook’s hard drive than they would out of a Kindle‘s unless they are careful.  You’re left with considering maximum storage space on the one hand against efficient use of said space on the other.  Too close to call.

Display:

Giving it to the Kindle.

This point will cause some debate, but I’m definitely partial to the Kindle‘s eInk display when it comes to reading considerations.  That’s got to be the main focus when you evaluate eReaders, in my opinion.  The fact that the eInk provides amazing contrast, great readability in any situation you could read a normal book in, requires no backlight, and contributes to the impressive battery life all give it the edge. It might be nice to have access to all the little extras and perks that the color LCD provides, but to get it by sacrificing general readability and accepting eye strain isn’t worth it to me.

Price:

Clearly the Kindle.

Not much to say about this.  If we decide to set aside matters of 3G connectivity, we end up with over a hundred dollars saved on the $139 Kindle.

Conclusion:

Point for point, I’ve got to give any Kindle vs NOOKcolor comparison to the Kindle at the moment.  It just seems better suited to do the job as an eReader than any pseudo-tablet will be able to for a while yet.  I have more respect for something that will do its one job extremely well than a compromise that leaves the essential function wanting in favor of extraneous additions. Maybe what you want is something small to use as a cheap iPad replacement and this is exactly what you were hoping for, but as an eReader, the Kindle is by far the better choice.

25 comments to Kindle vs Nook Color

  • For me the Display isn’t even debatable. The quality of e-ink clearly outshoots any lcd out of the water.

    When I have shown an e-ink display to people then they are simply flabbergasted by how good it looks. I actually find it sad that the colour has been put above the quality of image. E-ink needs more publicity as it is, not to be overshadowed by an inferior (contrast and readability-wise) display.

  • LatinaaoR

    You have to be on Crack!

  • I bought my first e-reader before the Kindle or any of its successors showed up. The eBookwise might be a dinosaur, but it totally spoiled me for the ability to read in bed without turning on a light, especially during those 2 AM insomnia bouts. The ability to dim the light to ‘just enough to see’ means there’s no squinting, or coming fully awake, or disturbing a partner.

    The e-ink might provide more ‘booklike’ reading, but I have books for those. I want that “better than a book” and it’s the read in the dark that does it for me. I love the back light, and will sacrifice just about all the other features to find a reader that offers that plus content.

  • Michael kammer

    I want this device because:

    a> It does NOT use the slow eInk technology
    b> I will be able to use FOLDERS for organizing over 800 documents. What good is having 8GB of space if you cannot find your document quickly?
    c> This device supports a microSD card. Kindle does not. I really do not know what they are thinking here. I simply will not buy a non-expandable device when there are so many options out there. I really do not care if it is a better ‘reading experience’. I need this device to let me access many documents.

    This device appears to be a highly optimized media usage device. I have looked at the majority of the e-readers out there and they all seem to be lacking in certain critical functions. It appears that this device simply NAILS it!

  • Ruby

    Are you serious? You give the display to a kindle which has only a monochrome screen. If that is the case, no one is going to even buy a iPad. You must be drinking too much cool-aid from Jeff Bezos. Color is the future. Stories book and pictures jump out alive in the high resolution iPad compatible LCD screen while the e-ink looks washed out and simply outdated.

  • fred

    REALLY….this is an unfair comparison! Apples and oranges!!! The nookcolor is in another league. The fairest comparison is Nook wifi to Kindle! Kindle doesn’t even have a gadget that does what nookcolor does. The consumer needs to make one decision before shopping for an ereader….How important is the “fatigue” factor? The nookcolor is back lit but it will give you so much more …if you read magazines or children’s picture books (with special content) Nookcolor is the state of the art gadget for christmas!!!

  • mike

    Wow talk about a biased review. You went out of your way not to give the nook color the edge on memory capacity when it clearly is superior in every way. as for display I tend to hate e-ink when it comes to reading in low light condition. plus many books come with color illustrations so that even a purist would not be too keen on a 6 inch greyscale display vs a 7 inch color when it comes to children books or cookbooks or magazines.

    I would not even attempt to compare a kindle to a color nook. the color nook is so much more. its like comparing a radio to a tv set.

  • Have to say I debated over the original NOOK and the $139 Kindle for the past few months. I debated over the ability to put external memory into the nook vs none in the Kindle. I liked the color book covers on the nook versus none on the Kindle. Didn’t need 3G so either one fit my needs there. Both support PDF files. In the end while it seems like the Nook was the most likable choice it actually came down to one thing, Books. As a Pastor there are certain authors I wanted that were not available from Barn and Noble, but were available thru Amazon.com. So in the end while I wanted the nook, I ended up getting the Kindle. After having the Kindle for two weeks, the nook was never the best option. Amazon Kindle gets my top spot.

  • capital

    The Nook Color will not run apps straight out of the Android Market, but that does not mean it cannot run them. In fact, they have done a lot of tests on apps from standard Android smartphones and they pretty much run on Nook Color, which has Android 2.1 under the hood. (The Nook native interface and apps are just standard Android application layers.) Barnes & Noble special Nook SDK runs on top of the standard Android one and gives developers access to exclusive extensions and APIs for the Nook and its interface. So porting Android apps is not difficult. B&N says it is more like optimising them for Nook than porting them.
    Nook Color screen is supposed to be better (less reflective) for reading than iPad thanks to new LG screen with anti-reflection coating.
    It allows to watch videos, listen to the music, view Office documents and PDF’s.
    If you prefer black and white eInk display, original NOOK is still available from BN.

  • admin

    I gave the display to Kindle, because for 90% of book reading eInk battery time, lack of eye strain and usually smaller weight are more important that instant refresh (video) and color. Books are about text. Text is black and white. Fast color display is a mere “nice to have” when it comes to books. If we were comparing netbooks than LCD based device would blow eInk based device 100% but we’re comparing devices for reading books.

    As far as memory size goes – it too is unimportant. Given that each eReader can easily store 3,500 books. Even at liberal $6.99 per book this amounts to almost $25,000 worth of reading material not to mention decades required to actually read it. If you have this much time and money on your hands to spend on your reading needs than you can easily afford to buy both devices and not choose at all. Surely you may want to carry entire project Gutenberg and Internet Archive with you at all times. But how much of these texts would you actually be interested in reading (at any given time)?

  • Lisa

    I just got a Kindle for my birthday and i was really excited about it. BUT, while i don’t know the constraints of e ink, i do not understand why backlight can’t be an option to turn on when necessary, and off when not. doesn’t it make sense that one might want it in some situations and not others? i read in bed at night much more often than i do in bright sunlight, and i have a very good clip-on book light for reading BOOKS in low/no light. a hi-tech e reader such as kindle should provide the capability for reading in the dark W/OUT a LOW-TECH book light! i think i have to return the K, but i can’t figure out what to get instead. any ideas?
    ps… and why can’t there be an option for a lighted keyboard when necessary? i don’t want to read a book on my phone, but my little Envy 3 just seems to be way more user friendly.
    Desperately seeking a better e reader. HELP!

  • Steve

    Gotta say, I just read your post on my iPhone — because my kindle isn’t usable in the dark (wife is sleeping and light is low), and my ipad is too heavy for bed. LCD doesn’t bug my eyes. If this new nook is paperback book size and weight, it could be ideal for reading in bed.

  • I’m surprised at the support for the nook colour to be honest.

    At the simple basic level we are looking at an ereader. I know how many books I have which rely on colour (none) items that do rely on colour such as reference books and comics/magazines look crap on a 6″ screen anyway!

    If I want a tablet i will buy a tablet. I want an eReader so I bought an eReader. All brands aside, a colour LCD will NEVER touch e-ink for ease of reading, and i certainly will never sacrifice that for the .01% of books that contain colour or for the 5 seconds (being generous) that i look at the cover.

    B&N have essential released a tablet and to avoid competition with Apple have branded it as a nook.

    I would actually welcome another comparison between the nool and nook colour…. I have a feeling the original would win.

  • admin

    eInk can’t be back-lit because the screen is not transparent.

  • Biased indeed. Color is the future and what people want. eInk is very cool, very readible, and very low power so you can’t argue its advantages. However, people will always choose color over black & white…. TV’s, GPS,s laptops, Magazines, Textbooks, Newpapers, etc., etc. Even the Wall Street Journal prints their newspaper with tons of color now.

    I also agree its an odd comparison for the writer especially when B&N has an equivalent product to compare (original Nook) that in this writers opinion is far superior due to ePub compatibility alone. Talk about going out on a limb to advantage the Kindle… wow. Amazon does not support the ePub standard for one reason… they want to control their customer… end of story.

    Once Android app market is figured out for Nook Color then it will unquestionably be a superior choice for an eReader and a great alternative to the iPad. Especially for those of us annoyed by the stubborness of Apple towards Adobe Flash. While I love my iPad I find more and more that without Flash support web browsing can be frustrating.

    The B&N Nook Color puts Amazon in the very obvious position of playing catchup in the eReader market, and now gives Amazon the “also ran” distinction when compared to their rival Barnes & Noble.

  • Michael kammer

    For me, I certainly would prefer e-Ink over a color display IF I could change pages rapidly on an e-Ink display (1/4 second or less). Since I need a device to swap documents quickly, (as well as change pages rapidly), it does not appear for me that ANY e-ink device will work.

    -But that is just me. For what I need, the Kindle and the e-ink Nook are BOTH un-usable.

  • Austin

    I always thought the big deal with e-readers was that you could read electronic documents without straining your eyes as much as you would with an LCD. Color might be the future of e-readers, but only e-ink type color. For now it is merely the present for tablets like the nook color, not for people who want a device to read on. I honestly wondered if these pro-nook comments were hired, but I’m paranoid.

  • Johnnie W. Red

    Color is the future, yes, and the way the trends are going, color e-ink is soon to dwarf both b&w eInk and LCD at least for e-readers (I am sure it will replace LCD in about a decade). Check it out: http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/19/pvis-prototype-color-e-ink-displays-are-a-perfect-match-for-kin/

    In the mean time, while I value the flexibility of Nookcolor with word processing (a feature I know I would cherish), if I was looking for that kid of thing; I would buy an Ipad, no question about it. The inferiority of Nook as a Tablet to Ipad is beyond words. But I am not looking for a tablet but an e-reader. And as many have pointed out; NookColor is less of an e-reader than a general tablet with focus on reading material. Kindle is the obvious choice.

    P.S. Comparing memory is redundant. You could never fill up a Kindle the way you could fill up a NookColor with graphics, comicbooks, magazines. Additional memory on the Kindle would be a waste of money. Even audio on kindle takes up little space.

    I favor Kindle over NookColor as well as Ipad over Nookcolor but the low-light conditions is an issue.

  • Vic

    It all depends on what you want to use the devices for. If you’re after a book reader – kindle wins in every category hands down. If you want a media player or you’re using this to read childrens books – kindle isn’t the way to go. As simple as that.

  • Brianna

    I have the Amazon Kindle 3G and I love it. It is Christmas tomorrow, and I got my AK3G early by a week or two. I love it! However, I have a baby who turns 2 next month and I love to read to him! The Nook Color is sooo tempting…however, it’s a really hard choice.

  • Earl

    Lets make this short and sweet. Either you are a lover of books and reading or you are a lover of gadgets. Get the Nookcolor if you do not want to spend iPad money or get the Kindle if you love READING. I hear people make these statement all the time. 1) I like my Nook alot. or 2) I love my Kindle. There is a big difference between like and love. I have owned every major e-reader and I can truely tell you from ownership, that the KING of e-readers is the Kindle. That being said, the king of tablets is the iPad. I can not make it any more simple. However, the choice is yours.

  • I got a NC and love it. No the battery doesn’t stay charged as long, but don’t have a problem plugging it in. Love the light so I can read in the dark. Not sorry I have the NC instead of Kindle.

  • Chase

    That is no surprise reading this article which device will prevail with a kindle pic in the back ground. But I will say this, seeing as I own both kindle and NookC. No COMPARISON!!.. In visual appeal, aesthetic feel, TOUCH SCREEN, Applicable ability the NookC wins hands down. Go a little further by rooting it with cyan7 unlocking the android market… and both devices aren’t even comparable any longer..

  • kye

    is their an amazon app on the nook?

  • I will always have a Kindle even though I have other Tablet PCs and Android Phones. I use it for reading in bed on vacation and on airplanes. Its easier to carry and durable.
    As for the Nook Color we can’t even be sure they Nook will be around next year the way Barnes and Noble runs their business.

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