By Harry McCracken | Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 11:34 am
Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Barnes & Noble Nookcolor
The simplest way to describe 2009’s first-generation Nook e-reader was to say it was a lot like an Amazon Kindle. The easiest way to describe the new Nookcolor is that it’s several things that a Kindle is not. This Android-based gizmo has a color touchscreen, giving it a richer interface and the ability to handle magazines and kids’ books much better than the Kindle. And the backlit screen is perfectly legible in dim lighting which renders the Kindle’s display invisible. (Of course, it also saps the Nook’s battery far more rapidly: The Nook gets eight hours on a charge, while the Kindle can run for weeks.)
The Nookcolor isn’t a full-blown Android tablet–B&N calls it a “reader’s tablet,” and hasn’t given it access to the Android Market app store. But the company is launching a third-party app store of its own early next year. And if it catches on, the Nookcolor could be an intriguing alternative to much pricier Android tablets such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.