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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, today Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has unveiled the newcomer to their nook product line, the NOOKcolor. What has been generally anticipated as the latest round of one-upsmanship in the Kindle vs nook competition has taken an interesting turn, to say the least. People following the news have heard rumors about it for the past week and even seen a prematurely posted accessory sales page that only lasted a short while, but now we have some answers to the questions these rumors raised!
How will they pull off the color?
For the past week or so this has been the big one. Everybody was curious how, if the rumors that there would be a color touchscreen nook were true, B&N would manage things. There was speculation regarding those amazing Mirasol displays that act like eInk in a lot of ways but won’t be out until 2011. Sadly, nothing of the sort was in the works. I don’t think anybody really thought it would be, since it would mean missing the 2010 holiday season and the resultant revenue, but there was some hope at least. Instead, we’re getting an LCD on an eReader. I can only think of two possible reasons that they might have gone this route, ruling out a desire to cash in on the novelty as much as possible before pulling out of the eReader game.
One, their LCD is so altered by the addition of a lamination layer to reduce glare from both the back-light and outside light sources that it will revolutionize portable LCD technology in the short term while better technology becomes available. I honestly wouldn’t mind this much, however unlikely it is. I don’t like the fact that LCD displays eat up battery life so amazingly fast by comparison with eInk, but my main objection has always been eye strain. Reading for hours on a normal LCD hurts, especially when you have reason to do it regularly. That said, this one seems somewhat far-fetched. Until somebody has had some time with a NOOKcolor of their own though, not much can be said for sure.
Two, and far more likely in my opinion, this is intended to cater far more to the tablet fad that’s taking over the market at the moment than to have much to do with reading. I’m not going to deny the potential usefulness in grabbing kids books and cookbooks and the like, but does that really justify the extra expense and inferior reading display? Not really, but an app store just might. This leads into the next line of speculation answered.
What will it be able to do?
This point is in B&N’s favor, I’m sure, in spite of the loss of 3G access. Many nook owners have been somewhat disappointed in the lack of app development for the nook so far, given its Android platform and interesting potential. Short of rooting your eReader, however, the closest we’ve gotten to apps is sudoku and a web browser. Nice, but not really anything to write home about. the new NOOKcolor, though, will ship with Facebook and Twitter integration, a request feature for the popular LendMe setup to let your friends know you want their books, a Pandora Radio app, some degree of Microsoft Office compatibility, and even a new crossword puzzle game! Ok, so the crosswords aren’t a big selling point, the rest is cool. On top of that, there is to be a nook app store that they are now taking developers on for in order to maximize the potential for users. This is very cool, and means a lot in terms of long-term viability of the product.
How will it compare?
This is quite possibly the hardest question to answer. Mostly because B&N has set themselves up in an odd sort of in-between space. Yeah, they still want to be an eReader and are clearly highlighting features that match or exceed the Kindle as a selling point. At the same time, however, they also clearly want the option for some iPad-like functionality and diversity of purpose. So where do we make the (nook vs. iPad) comparison? I’d say we’ll have to wait for a chance at some head-to-head functionality tests after the first units ship before a real evaluation can be made. Right now it feels like a shot in the dark to try to beat Amazon to the punch on color eReaders and address the crowd who still see the iPad as a part of the eReader competition. The features are all there for books, of course, and the potential seems plentiful for app development, but the compromises in terms of price and technology make me wonder.
In short, it’s an odd situation. the NOOKcolor looks cool. It really does. Is it really an eReader anymore though? I’ll admit that color touchscreens seem to be the way of the future, but there seems to be a chance that Barnes & Noble jumped the gun here and put out their entry into the market before the available screen technology was ready for it. eReaders have been characterized by their amazing battery life and easy to read screen. It’s that combination that has set them apart. To throw that off is to take a gamble, in my opinion. I hope it does well as a tablet device, but the Kindle might have lost its biggest competition. I will, as always, caution people to avoid making too much of early speculation before the product even becomes available, but the indications are there and we can only do our best with the information we have available at the moment. Give it some thought. This might fill exactly the niche you’ve been looking forward to, personally, even if it isn’t what we might have expected.
Kindle 3 vs Barnes and Noble Nook side by side
The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has finally announced plans to allow Kindle book sharing among Kindle users. Like the Nook, the Kindle book can only be shared one time, and will have a 14 day lending period. The book will not be available on your Kindle while it is on loan to another person. This feature should be available by the end of this year.
I will admit, as much as I love my Kindle, the fact that I couldn’t share books with people was a real disappointment for me. Part of what makes reading so enjoyable is the ability to share and discuss books with people close to you. I bought The Help, a bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, and knowing that several others wanted to read it, I had to buy the hardback version.
This new development is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t quite allow the lending freedom we’ve all hoped for. Lending rights will be up to the publishers, or whoever holds the rights to the particular book. Considering the war over e-book prices, it will be interesting to see how strict publishers are about allowing lending capabilities.
Speaking of lending books, I would like to see more headway in allowing Kindle e-books to be checked out in libraries. Contrary to popular belief, libraries are at the forefront of emerging technology and digitization trends. Many libraries are purchasing Kindles to loan to their patrons to use, and that system has shown signs of success. As of now, since the Kindle has its own copyrighted e-book format, it cannot be used. Other e-readers have open book formats that allow their e-books to work in libraries.
If Kindle books were available to check out in libraries, I think that would boost sales of the device itself. It would also reach out to an even wider variety of readers who may not have had the opportunity to learn or explore the idea of using an e-reader.
Amazon Kindle 3
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) is slated to join Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) and Target (NYSE:TGT) by adding the Kindle to its inventory this fall. Just in time for the holiday season, the Kindle’s presence in Best Buy is predicted to boost its own sales, as well as the sales of its competitors.
Speaking of competitors, both the iPad and Nook are available at Best Buy. There are rumors that the iPad might be hitting Target stores on October 3rd. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been trying to distance the Kindle from the iPad by saying that the Kindle is for the more dedicated reader, while the iPad is for more general purposes. By doing so, this seems to put the Kindle buyer in one group and the iPad buyer in another. I wonder if there’s a way to make buying both appealing. After trying an iPad, I would use it more as a computer. The screen contrast is too great to read comfortably. Plus, the battery life on the Kindle is way longer than the iPad’s. With the prices becoming more and more reasonable, I think it is perfectly justifiable to own both a Kindle and an iPad.
The Kindle and Kindle DX’s debut in all three stores allows consumers to “try before they buy.” Adding Best Buy to the mix will just put the Kindle out there to an even broader set of consumers. Best Buy is a natural fit for the Kindle because it’s reputation with quality electronics and good customer service.
The Kindle DX has been tested with little success in universities, but there is hope for the future. It might actually serve as a good replacement for textbooks now that it is a little more mainstream and more readily available in stores. I think using the Kindle DX as a textbook reader would save a lot of money in the long run. It would also save a lot of space. No more bulky, back breaking bookbags to lug around!
Picture is worth a thousand words so rather than writing one more Kindle 3 Review (which I encourage you to read if you haven’t already), today I decided to publish several Kindle 3 photos.
eReader Comparison: Kindle 2, Nook, iPad, Kindle 1, Kindle 3, Kindle DX, Sony PRS-600
Personally I’m a huge eReader fan and gadget geek as you can see from my pile of eInk hardware. Out of all devices Kindles get the most use: 6″ devices to read books and Kindle DX to read newspapers and magazines. iPad is also used quite a bit but mostly not as eBook reader.
Amazon Kindle 3
Kindle 3 frontal shot. Kindle has a picture viewer easter egg. In order to use it: create “pictures” folder in the root directory of the Kindle USB drive, create some sub-directory there and fill it with pictures. Once in home screen, press Alt-Z to make Kindle 3 rescan picture folders. Subfolders of “pictures” folder that have JPEG, GIF, PNG or BMP files in them will be visible as books and images will become pages. It may be a nice way to enjoy manga on your Kindle 3.
Kindle 3 Back Cover
Kindle 3 back cover has a nice rubbery feel to it that makes the device very comfortable to hold. I has Amazon Kindle logo embossed in it. If you look closely at the slit between front and back covers you will be able to see screwdriver marks from my Kindle 3 disassembly attempt.
Kindle 3 Weight
For some reason Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has overstated Kindle 3 weight. It really weights around 8.2 ounces as opposed to the official spec of 8.7 as confirmed by multiple sources.
Kindle 3 in Lighted Leather Cover
Kindle 3 Light
One of the standard Kindle 3 accessories that Amazon sells separately is Kindle 3 Leather Lighted Cover. It is intended to protect your Kindle from scratches and falls. Although I’ve never field-tested it, judging by it’s solid construction it should do a good job. It also has a built-in LED light for night reading that draws power from Kindle battery via conductive cover hinges. The downside is that the cover doubles the weight of the device.
As you can see, page lighting is not completely even. However from my personal experience I can tell that the cover is completely usable for reading at night. DSLR cameras tend to exaggerate contrast.
Kindle 3 in Leather Cover
When not in use the light slides into the cover and stays completely hidden. There is also leather cover without built in light that costs less and is couple of ounces lighter.
Kindle 3 Power Light
Amazon designers have moved all buttons (except for paging) and connectors to the bottom edge of the device. From left to right you see volume control (for two built-in 1W stereo speaker or headphones used for “Read To Me” text-to-speech feature, listening audiobooks or DRM-free MP3 files), stereo mini-jack headphone connector, microphone (that is not used for anything right now according to the user’s guide), standard micro-USB PC/charging connector, power switch with integrated large charging LED light. The light blinks green when Kindle 3 is turned on or off, glows orange when Kindle is charging and glows green when the device is completely charged.
Kindle 1,2 and 3 side by side
Witness 3 years of Kindle evolution. Kindle 1 released on the 19th of November 2007, Kindle 2 releaed on the 9th of February 2009 and finally Kindle 3 Graphite released recently. Notice the improving progression of screen contrast as eInk displays evolved over time.
Kindle 3 and Kindle 1 side by side
Kindle 3 vs Kindle 1 - thickness comparison
Although Kindle 3 and Kindle 1 have very similar footprint in the terms of thickness, Kindle 3 is almost 3 times thinner than the original first generation Kindle.
Kindle 3 and Kindle 2 size comparison
Kindle 3 vs Kindle 2 - thickness comparison
Although K3 and K2 are almost indistinguishable by thickness (the difference is 1/50 inch), difference by footprint is considerable.
Kindle 3 and Kindle DX
As you can see Kindle 3 completely fits inside Kindle DX screen with still some room to spare. These are two different classes of devices.
Kindle 3 vs Nook - Size overlay
Kindle 3 vs Nook : Thickness comparison
Kindle 3 vs Barnes and Noble Nook side by side
Kindle 3 is slightly smaller than Barnes & Noble Nook. It is also almost twice at thin and significantly lighter while packing same 3G + WiFi connectivity. In case of Kindle 3 however you can use free 3G Internet to browse any website rather than just download books.
Kindle 3 and Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition side-by-side
Kindle and Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition - Thickness
Kindle 3 has slightly larger footprint than Sony PRS-600 because of keyboard but is slightly thinner and considerably lighter. However the main difference is in display contrast. Kindle 3 Pearl eInk display contrast is almost 5 times higher than that of Sony. This difference has mostly to do with the touchscreen layer in PRS-600.
Kindle 3 vs Apple iPad
Although these are completely different kinds of products I still photographed Kindle 3 and Apple iPad side-by-side just for the fun of it.
I’ll wrap up this Kindle photo review with a daily Amazon.com user review and shipping date check-up:
Right now there are 220 customer reviews for Kindle 3. Of these 155 are completely positive five star reviews, 35 – positive four star reviews, 6 – neutral 3 star reviews, 7 – negative two star reviews and finally 17 – completely negative one star reviews. For the last several days ship date for Kindle 3 remained unchanged as “on or before September 17th”.
BTW: I have plenty of hosting bandwidth so you are welcome to hotlink these pictures.
Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has taken a page out of Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) book again recently by rebranding their eReader applications under the nook. This comes at the same time as, and is therefore well illustrated by, the much anticipated release of the nook software for the Android operating system, which is now available in the Apps store as a free download.
By all accounts, this is a solid piece of software. It seems to have most every feature we’ve come to expect in eReader applications for cellular devices, and an intuitive functionality very similar to that of the popular Kindle for Android application. I like having multiple font options a lot, and I can see the use for having additional font sizes even if I’m perfectly happy personally with the usual ones available on either app.
The one place that the nook app falls short, and it is kinda a big deal, is the complete lack of brightness and background controls. While it is obviously likely to be difficult to get something like that to work across a broad range of hardware profiles and other such difficulties, it is almost essential to have these features when reading on most cell phone types of screens. It’s a neat piece of software and I honestly believe that it is superficially better than anything else I’ve seen so far, short of buying a Kindle or nook or something, but when it comes to regular use you’ll be hurting for more control over the screen rather quickly.
Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has announced an August release for their new NOOKstudy software package. Following in their recent tradition of following up Amazon’s original moves with some further refinement, it appears we’re looking at a few old favorites with a couple new twists. The Kindle DX has proven to be slightly less than ready for big-time school exposure so far, which leaves the field open to the nook and its related software for the time being.
As anybody might expect, looking at software for students, there will be highlighting, annotation, and in-text note-taking for follow-ups. In addition, annotations and notes in general will be tagged for easy searching and full-text searching will be, obviously, much faster than the existing search feature native to the nook device. There also appears to be some browser integration to allow for fast look-up of formulas and definitions as you read. Users will be able to open two texts at once for simultaneous reading/reference on the same screen, a tabbed browser will allow multiple documents to be open for use at any given time, and students will likely find the ability to organize documents based on class and topic quite helpful.
This all comes at the same time as an announcement of integration of the Barnes & Noble eBook Store with the ever-popular Blackboard educational software, which will allow students to download any available texts directly from a list of what is required for their classes. Basically, B&N is hoping to take the college scene by storm and they seem to have a good idea of how to go about it.
In light of the recent major price drops on the two most popular devices in the eReader market, there’s every reason to believe that a fresh wave of first time buyers is likely to be hunting for the right fit. New to the eBook situation and wanting some advice on which way to go? Let’s see what we can do for you.
Looking at the major points of interest for these devices, each has its strengths and weaknesses. For the purposes here, we’ll assume that the choices are the $199 nook and the $189 Kindle because 3G coverage is neat and because we don’t know yet what Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) is going to be doing with their WiFi Kindle model(assuming those rumors are true).
Size, Weight, and Feel
- Kindle: 6″ screen, 1/3″ thick, 10.2 ounces
- nook: 6″ screen, 1/2″ thick, 12.1 ounces
Subjective Evaluation: The screen is slightly better on the nook due to a better contrast ratio. On the other hand, the extra thickness and weight of the nook, slight as it is, makes it a very small bit harder to read for long periods of time than the Kindle. It’s pretty much a tie in this category.
A Note On The Screens: You’ll see many people complain about the screen flicker and page turn delay. In general, I advise ignoring these people. In both cases there is a delay in screen refresh that is so slight that turning the page in a paper book at the same speed with any regularity will likely leave you with a ruined book. These aren’t your average computer LCDs. Different technology, different uses.
- Kindle: QWERTY keyboard, 5-way controller stick
- nook: LCD touchscreen
Subjective Evaluation: As far as moving through the stores, library, and things in general goes I’ve got to give it hands-down to Amazon. The on-screen navigation is intuitive and has only the rarest of hiccups. The nook’s touchscreen, while flashy, leaves something to be desired in terms of responsiveness on the eInk screen.
Selection and File Support
- Kindle: 600,000+ titles, supports: AZW, TXT, PDF, MOBI, PRC, converts: HTML, DOC
- nook: 1,000,000+ titles, supports: EPUB, PDF, PDB
Subjective Evaluation: At first glance, Amazon has the edge in terms of file formats, especially when you take into account that many of the nook’s million titles are simply freely available Google Books downloads. The nook, however, supports EPUB files. EPUB is the industry standard format at the moment and tends to be the easiest to get your hands on, assuming you’re the type who prefers to shop for the best deal rather than simply grabbing everything from one store. The nook comes out well ahead in this comparison for just that reason. You’re not jumping through nearly as many hoops if you want to shop around as the Kindle makes you.
Storage space, in both cases, is generally a non-issue. In several years of using these devices heavily, including during the completion of a degree in English Literature, I have never found a situation where there was any advantage to holding 1,500+ books in my hand at once. If you really need to walk around with your entire library at once, then Amazon’s recent addition of a feature called Collections that makes it possible to organize your books according to your own specifications might make the Kindle your preferred eReader. At present the nook does not have this ability and a list that long might get unwieldy for casual aimless browsing.
Battery Life(Entirely Subjective Evaluation)
- Kindle: 30hr active, 20 days standby
- nook: 24hr active, 7 days standby
Now, these measurements are not in any way when is being advertised by the makers of the devices, nor am I claiming that everybody will see the same performance. I have had both and used both for some time now, however, and this is what I’ve seen. It is, quite literally, impossible to run down the charge on either device in a single day by reading at a normal pace. Simply put, if you want a device that you charge overnight and otherwise don’t have to worry about then either is fine. If you want something you can throw in a briefcase and carry around all week, then charge on the weekends, the Kindle has a slight, and I want to emphasize slight, advantage in battery life. Probably the lack of LCD screen. Neither of these takes into account the power draw of leaving your wireless connectivity going constantly, since this is generally not needed. You connect, download your book, then disconnect. Leaving it open is almost always just a waste.
- Kindle: Read to Me, Facebook/Twitter integration, web browser, password protection
- nook: games, web browser, WiFi capability, in-store B&N perks, interchangeable back plates
Subjective Evaluation: I’ll start by saying that the Facebook/Twitter thing is not something I’ll comment on. If these features are valuable to you, there are plenty of places to do the research. I cannot comment. As for the rest, the Kindle’s main selling point here is the password protection. Since you will generally have a credit card linked to the account that is linked to your device, to make store purchasing quicker and easier, this bit of safety is a must-have. The Read to Me feature is nothing to sneeze at either, as it opens the door to use of the Kindle as a learning tool or simply a way to enjoy your favorite books even after the eyes get tired. It’s not perfect, but it does a good job and is not at all unpleasant to listen to.
The nook, on the other hand, comes up with mostly fun and superficial changes. You get a couple of games to play, with the hope of more to come of course, some incentive to visit the B&N store for free access to books and free coffee, and the ability to customize the appearance of your device in a way that goes beyond the usual cover choice. The web browser on the nook is slightly easier to use than the Kindle’s due to the touchscreen, but this also seems to result in faster battery depletion, so it’s something of a double-edged sword.
The Kindle wins for functionality, but don’t rule out the nook in terms of fun. Also make note of the fact that because the nook runs Android and therefore a much wider potential developer base in the long term, should an app store become available.
I can’t tell you one device is better than the other because they’re both simply great products. It’s all about what you like and what you want your eReader to do for you. I use my Kindle when I want bestsellers, a device to travel with, independent authors, and the ability to annotate my books. I use my nook when I’m looking for the best price on a book, when there’s some question regarding 3G coverage wherever I’m staying, and when sudoku or browsing the web seem like good uses of my time. The best way to be sure of what you want is to try them out in the store. Check them out, do your research, and know what you want for your money. You would be hard-pressed to be disappointed either way.
It appears that not only were the rumors from a few months ago about a WiFi only version of the popular Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) nook true, but that the price wars have had an effect. The new nook comes to us at a mere $149, which, as far as I know, makes it the first eReader at that price to have wireless connectivity. The exclusion of the 3G coverage changes very little about the device beyond making it half an ounce lighter and being signified by a back cover in white instead of gray.
At the same time as this release, we see a drop in the price of the full-featured nook model to just $199. Considering B&N has managed to provide a good deal of competition for the market leading Kindle even when they shared a price point, these options could well give them a short-term edge until Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) manages to get out the thinner, wirelessly compatible model being talked about for this fall.
On top of the new release and price cut, current owners of the nook eReader will be pleased to note the v1.4 software upgrade released today. Most importantly, for travelers wanting to go for the new nook model, it adds free and seamless connectivity to all ATT(NYSE:T) hotspots around the country. The included additional large font size is likely a useful option for many as well. Finally, and my favorite feature of the list, 1.4 adds in a “go to page” feature, which allows for better and more precise navigation of eBooks. This is especially important when reading a poorly constructed eBook across two devices since the B&N software does not track what page you last read back to your nook, nor do many free books have working chapter bookmarks.
All this makes August even more vital for Amazon. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with to jump to the front again.
Moving back to the other side of the usual competition, after Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) recent announcement of this fall’s upcoming slimmer and more streamlined Kindle, Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has begun a limited time offering(from June 2nd through July 3rd) of a $50 Gift Card with every nook device purchased through either themselves or their partners and Best Buy.
There is, of course, plenty of opportunity to read into this as more than a marketing push, paving the way for the WiFi-only nook we’ve been hearing about or a jump to a lower price point in general, but without anything to set schedules by, it’s a bit hard to assess. Regardless of the reasoning behind the offer, anybody who was on the fence about picking up this eReader will now have that much more incentive to run out and give it a try.
For those who order their device online, you will need to create a BN.com account with attached credit card and you may expect the gift card to be included in the packaging with your new nook. This might not be the best time to upgrade, or even to simply join the eReading populace, given the new technology right around the corner, but if the urge is there then this is one more reason to go for it.
A day after Amazon’s May 10 announcement regarding plans to offer Kindle for Android, Amazon announced updates for its Kindle for PC application. The article from eWeek suggests that Amazon’s recent actions might be in response to increased competition from the iPad, Nook, Sony E-reader and others.
Kindle for PC’s new features include the ability to edit notes and marks, change background color, adjust screen brightness control and includes a full screen reading mode. Amazon’s Whispersync technology transfers notes, bookmarks and “last pages read” between a PC, smartphone and the Kindle. By adding these adjustments to the application, Amazon has made it much more user friendly.
Jay Marine, Director of Amazon Kindle wrote: “Kindle for PC lets customers enjoy more than 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don’t yet have a Kindle, and it’s the perfect companion application for the millions of Kindle and Kindle DX owners.” Amazon seems to be heading into the predicted direction of gearing their market towards software, despite solid Kindle device sales.
Amazon also recently announced plans for a new update to the Kindle and Kindle DX called Version 2.5. In this version, users will be allowed to share passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter. It will also include Collections, which categorizes books and documents on the Kindle into different sections based on the subject, and Popular Highlights, a passage from a book or document that the Kindle community finds the most interesting. Content sharing is “the big thing” right now. It will be an interesting trend to watch in terms how how the Kindle will work with it.
In March 2010, the Nook surpassed the Kindle in sales. So much for all of that hype around the iPad being such a fierce competitor for the Kindle. The Nook is Barnes and Noble’s e-reader that includes a selection of over a million titles from Barnes and Noble, as well as books from outside resources such as Google Books. It was launched at the end of November, 2009 with fantastic sales. Such early competition from the Nook is surprising considering that the initial release was flawed. Shipments were delayed and the reviews at the launch were mixed. There were reports of viruses in the e-book downloads.
Apparently, the kinks from the initial launch have largely been ironed out. According to an article from Digital Trends, out of the 1.43 million e-book readers shipped, 53% were Nooks. This is good news for both the Nook and Kindle, because it means that the e-book reader market is really taking off on a global scale. The Kindle still holds its status as the veteran of the e-book reader market. E-book reader sales are projected to quadruple from 2009 to 2010, from 3 million to 11 million. Threatened by competition from the Nook and the iPad will hopefully push Amazon to make changes suggested by users and experts to the Kindle, such as price cuts and faster screen reaction times.
A big question is whether the Kindle, Nook and iPad will target different sections of the market or whether they will all be vying for the same group of people in the long run. Either way, competition is heating up and the makers of e-book readers will be on their toes.
One of the things that B&N has been advertising since the nook first debuted is an enhanced in-store experience. With the recently released 1.3 patch, they’ve really delivered. Here’s how it works:
- Take your nook to any B&N store and get access to the store’s hotspot.
- Open up the nook’s store browser and find a book you’re interested in.
- Select your book and choose the “Read in Store” option from the menu.
It’s ridiculously simple and works for every last book in their ebook catalog. You get an hour per book per 24-hour period, so you’re not likely to see your way through to the end of a book in a single sitting, but there seems to be no daily limit on number of books per day or number of days per book.
I don’t claim to understand the business model, but it’s certainly fun. I anticipate many a lunch break around the country being spent in the local Barnes & Noble cafe. Whether you’re reading a bit at a time or previewing that new release you were on the fence about, you can’t really go wrong. It ties the nook device into the physical store better than anything else I could think of. I would really love to see something like this coming from the Kindle, honestly. It’s a neat feature that’ll give the nook a huge advantage should it catch on.
Today the latest content patch for the B&N nook rolled out and it’s made a fairly impressive showing. I played around with it for a while earlier and found little to complain about.
The most important point is, of course, performance. The screen refresh isn’t any faster, but navigating the device has been sped up considerably. There is nearly no discernible delay moving from one menu to the next anymore. Adding onto this the fact that the update is supposed to fix the freezing of nook units(couldn’t say since mine never froze in the first place), and I think many people are going to like the upgrade for this alone.
The most widely touted feature of this update was the web browser. Now, as you would expect from the first release of a browser for a device that was never really an optimal sort of avenue for that sort of thing in the first place, there are some bugs. First, page navigation is a bit slow. Both moving from page to page and simply scrolling from one part of the page to the next. I love that I can check my email easily through the device. In fact, that was the first thing I did, just to make sure I could. It causes problems when you try to do anything involving a pop-up or new tab though. Just bumps you out to the main menu. Personally I’d rather just get a message saying “No, go do something else instead.” Anyway, it’s still a nice addition. With the color on the touchscreen, the web isn’t nearly as bland as it could be. It’s a small window to the full color spectrum of the web, but it makes a big difference.
Finally, we have the games. Why did B&N add games? No idea. Not that they’re bad. I mean, they’re really not. Heck, the sodoku is one of the most pleasant versions to play that I’ve ever found, and I hate sodoku. I just don’t exactly see the point just now. Maybe when downloadable games demonstrate the potential better somehow?
I’d say nook owners should be very pleased for a bit. This is a major improvement in the device. I still feel the lack somewhat, since the keyboard is a little less sensitive and harder to use than my Kindle‘s, but it isn’t too bad. This eReader’s definitely going to get a bit more use than it has been for a while now though, I can assure you.
It looks like Amazon is taking a page from Sony and Barnes & Noble’s book by offering the Kindle in a retail outlet. The Kindle will debut in Target Stores April 25. The good part about this strategy is that customers will finally be able to test a Kindle before they buy them in a secure environment. According to this article from Wall Street Journal, Amazon previously recruited volunteers to go to public spaces such as coffee shops and showcase their Kindles. However impact of these activities was limited. More than two years of what everyone believes to be stellar sales have passed and as I use my Kindle in public places some people still ask me “what is this” having no clue about Amazon Kindle specifically or eReaders and eInk in general. Clearly Kindle needs more public exposure.
Until B&N Nook came about much later, Kindle was the only device that could work without PC at all. So technically one could by it like a cell phone, have store associate set up amazon.com account with payment information and then read books without ever having to use a computer for that purpose. This way Amazon would be able to pick up some customers who never shopped online before. It’s a win-win situation all around. Why did it take Amazon 2.5 years to finally get there is a total mystery to me.
However, don’t rush to your nearest Target tomorrow. Chances are you will not find Kindle there. The plan is to pilot this in a limited number of stores with broader roll-out to follow sometime later.
In recent days, as Apple steps into the market and eReaders are practically falling out of the rafters, one of the major points of comparison that has kept the Kindle on top has been the subscription-free 3G connection complete with web browser. Nobody has ever claimed that it looked wonderful, but it does the job and who doesn’t occasionally love the option to check Wikipedia on the fly?
Well, it seems that Barnes and Noble has finally caught up with the crowd. According to recently released rumors, we could be seeing a full web browser added into the feature list as early as next week in a downloaded firmware update. Now, it would be reasonable to expect perfection right out the door, but any nook owner will tell you that this has been a long time coming.
Even assuming that the main purpose will be for text-based web pages such as Wikipedia or the many online dictionaries, there will be several unexpected side effects that could benefit owners. Travelers in areas without 3G coverage who wish to use their devices in the airport, hotel, or coffee shop have often found themselves out of luck up until now, since many such places require navigating an internal web page to gain access to the connection itself. If this rumor proves true, nook fans have some fun things to look forward to as the eReader feature gap closes up a little bit more.
New York Times has recently announced that it is raising the price for Kindle subscriptions from $13.99 to $19.99 – a rise of whopping 43 percent. There is some respite for current Kindle subscribers, who will continue to be billed at $13.99 for the next six months. The Kindle edition of New York Times app has been very popular and allows readers to get news coverage of exceptional depth and breadth, as well as opinion that is thoughtful and stimulating.
The timing of this announcement is very interesting and coincides with the launch of Apple iPad in United States. In a related move, an iPad application for New York Times hit the iTunes App Store yesterday. The current NYT iPad app is free and offers a limited selection of automatically updated news, features, videos, etc. laid out with a newspapery feel and offline reading capability; it’s sponsored exclusively at launch by Chase Sapphire. It is expected that a full-fledged paid NYT app for iPad would be launched soon.
The New York Times subscription on the nook is also going up from $13.99 to $19.99. Like with the Kindle, existing nook subscribers will get 6 months at the old price. Many print media veterans have argued that digital subscriptions should be less than their analog counterparts, however the prices for digital editions continue to rise. I wonder if the Kindle vs. iPad battle will help the customers or will it further aggravate this pricing war?
One of the biggest impediments to eBook Reader distribution has always seemed to be exposure. Those of us who enjoy such things were forced, with each product that arrived on the market, to weigh the pros and cons of each device based on rumors, specs, and buyer feedback without, in most cases, ever having the chance to see a device in person. New reports indicate that this is going to be a phenomenon of the past, however!
Now, I’m not saying that this was a problem for everybody. Originally those who were close enough to a Sony run store had this luxury, of course, and in fact still do. Hell, the Sony Readers have long since come to Target stores around the country as well. Today, however, the eBook market is heating up based on distribution models and 3g devices like the nook and Kindle have center stage as they make the move to the big name storefronts.
Later this month, the 25th if reports can be believed, we should be seeing the Amazon Kindle popping up at Target stores all over the place. In what may be a coincidence, but is probably a reaction, Best Buys will in turn be picking up sales of Barnes & Noble’s nook. This should be a fun time.
I decided to do a little comparison on search volumes related to 3 leading eBook readers. You can do it for any search terms by using Google Trends from Google Labs… Here’s what I got by comparing Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader:
Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader Search volumes
As you can see, according to Google, ever since it was launched Amazon Kindle had the lead by both search volume and news reference volume. This held even when competing readers were launched. That was surprising even to me.
The Banes and Noble Nook eBook reader got updated just before Christmas. So those lucky(?) souls who got theirs delivered before or around that time were able to update their Nook for a comparatively nicer time reading eBooks on their new eBook reader on Christmas. But has the update made the Nook into a killer product, the answer sadly is a no. It still has some time to go before it can threaten established players like the Kindle.
In fact, even according to some official words form B&N this wasn’t anything major. They were simply testing things out with their very first over-the-air update for the Nook. Other than allowing a “seamless” access to the B&N store providing exclusive content for the Nook, it also improves on the core speed and performance. That basically means it fixes the things that were slowing the Nook down noticeably. This should also cut down on the number of complaints that we were getting to hear about the Nook.
The Nook was already overbooked and supply was low much before Christmas. So most people who wanted to buy and/or gift eBook readers went for the Kindle or the Sony Readers. So the holidays have not made Nook the overnight sensation that some thought it would become. However, do not get me wrong on this count. The Nook is actually a very promising device and if B&N can play it right they are in for really good business. The Nook’s secondary color touchscreen might make more of a difference than originally expected. Plus, the Android factor also works to make it a very powerful device that is also flexible enough to accept radical new features that weren’t thought of before. So hopefully we will see this morph into a really good eBook reader that is different from all the rest.
Barnes And Noble has finally started shipping out the Nook, so at least the early birds will be using their brand new Android based eBook reader over Christmas. The rest of you can get a Kindle for Christmas. So what is the Nook user experience be like? Not too great, judging from the reviews.
It seems like Barnes and Noble is facing what most companies face when launching a new product — the hiccups associated with a first generation device. There’s always a rush to get the thing out of the door and you know that things have been rushed along. After all, the research lab and the marketing wing has never seen eye to eye on almost any issue for all of corporate business history.
So there are features that are missing from the Nook that would likely be addressed by the firmware upgrade that is coming our way soon. The glitches, slow downs and reponse problems are usually associated with software because these things are not caused by the hardware unless something went gravely wrong during initial testing phases. Software can always be pushed out later.
All the reviews by popular techies suggest the same thing over and over again — the thing has potential but it is still a toddler and is not ready to face all the ugliness of the world. As an Android-based reader there is hope for the Nook yet, thanks to its innovative design. Just don’t expect it to do compare favorably with the Kindle as of yet. The Kindle has had a few product cycles to grow and hence it currently stands out as the best bargain amongst the ever growing number of eBooks. But devices like the Nook will soon make sure that the choice is not that simple.
Amazon may face tough competition from Google in the year to come but now they seem to be on top of things as Kindle eBook Reader sales skyrocketed in November.
Amazon.com said on Monday that its Kindle electronic book reader posted its best sales yet in the month of November, as rivals struggle with fulfilling their customer orders.
The online retailer said shoppers were buying several Kindles at once as holiday gifts, while businesses and organizations were buying the device “in large quantities” for employees or clients. Amazon does not provide precise data on Kindle sales.
Kindle’s main competitors, Sony and Barnes&Noble on the other hand reported their new products sold out and shipments delayed even before the holiday season actually started. While this indicates high demand for their products, it would give them little comfort as some of “could-have-been-their” customers are going to instant gratification here and now with Amazon as they have no other option for wireless-enabled eReaders.
B&N is new to eReader market and it’s understandable how they could mess up on their first entry attempt. Sony on the other hand has been in the exact same situation before when they released PRS-500 in 2006. The device was immediately sold out on US market and unanavailable internationally for months to come. A friend of mine who back then lived in Europe via community forums tracked down a US store that had a whooping 5 units in stock of which I bought all to be sent to my friend and his coworkers. Back then scalpers were making a killing on eBay as Sony PRS-500 sold for 150%+ of retail price.
This time around though there is Amazon that is more than willing to sell Kindles to anyone who is not willing to wait for Sony eReader or a Nook.