Mirasol

If the iPad is the new iPod, is the new Nook an Atari Lynx?

October 29, 2010: 12:43 PM ET

Barnes & Noble decided it had to be first to market with a color e-reader, even if that meant not putting out a perfectly polished device. But in an iPad world, the dedicated e-reader race might not even matter.

When news leaked of the Nook Color, the new e-reader with a color screen from Barnes & Noble (BKS), the hype machine went into overdrive. Pundits frothed at that idea that this could be the holy grail of e-readers: a dedicated reading device with all the current benefits paired with a color screen like the frequently-delayed low-power Mirasol display from Qualcomm (QCOM), that would be every bit as easy to read in the sunlight.

Now we know better. It's an interesting product, but probably not the game-changer some people had hoped for. The Nook will be the first consumer product to have LG's VividView display, an LCD with so-called "full lamination film technology" that the company promises will maximize readability while reducing glare. The whole concept sounded great in theory, but even in an extremely-controlled environment like the dimly-lit fourth floor of the Union Square Barnes and Noble, reflections were still easy enough to see. One B&N employee compared the final viewing experience as being somewhere between glare-free e-ink and the glare-loving gorilla glass of the iPad. In other words: glare! And for every novel feature like say, magazine subscriptions, Pandora, and social media integration, there were also some potential red flags: the 8-hour battery life without WiFI, some OS bugginess, and perhaps most egregious for e-reader owners accustomed to it, no 3G. So, criticism came fast and furious.

But should we be shocked? Not really. More

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