Friday, May 4, 2012

A Look at the Nook

Last year, my wife Jessie graduated with her masters degree, as well as celebrated her birthday and Mother's Day in the same week. (Obviously, the latter two always coincide on a regular basis.) The boys and I thought this was a very significant occasion. On a cue she'd given me a couple of months earlier, I suggested we pool together and get her an eReader. At the time, the Kindle's tablet and the Nook Color were fairly close in price. Barnes & Noble (B&N) was just on the verge of updating the OS to making the Nook Color a true tablet, so I again ignored the mass popularity aspect of a product (see previous post on smartphones) and bought her the Nook.

For the next few months, we shared oohs and aahhs over the capabilities. Not the least of its features was a free class on how to use it, held in the evening at one of the nearby stores. It works with our U-verse wifi at home, so we can check email with it out on the screen porch. We can download eLibrary books! The availability of such books we like is fairly limited but it was still pretty cool. Jessie's Scottish heritage will not indulge in spending needlessly even if she has a Barnes&Noble money card with which to charge, but I've seen great applications that would make it a very useful tool as well as toy. Here's the latest listing from the B&N Website:
  •     Movies & TV Shows from Netflix
  •     NOOK Comics™ including the largest collection of Marvel graphic novels
  •     World's most advanced VividView™ 7" touchscreen
  •     Over 2.5 million books, magazines, interactive kids' books
  •     Must-have apps like Angry Birds, top music services, & more
  •     Tablet essentials–email & Web w/video
  •     Expandable memory- add up to 32 GB w/ microSD™ card
  •     Always free NOOK support in-store
I will say this: the Nook's Android OS is not very intuitive and had some influence on my decision to test out the Windows Phone. Hmm, what would happen if the Nook came with Windows? Nah! Never happen!

We've both been surprised to see the Nook on TV ads lately, but are pleased that it's being shown off for the good value it is.

And now there's news that Microsoft is investing in the Nook. The financial experts aren't sure it's going to be enough for the Nook to survive in a market that iPads and Kindles are crushing. But here's an interesting wrinkle that MS needs to follow up on: those 641 B&N college bookstores could be reinvented as "education solution centers." The liabilities the financial critics are pointing at in this transaction could be turned into assets. As the article suggests, Microsoft also needs to shop for coursepack companies and companies that know how to package content for the Nook.

It's all a very interesting development. It's a great tablet and I wouldn't count it out just yet.The price point between a Nook and an iPad for a college student is considerable. Put Windows 8 on a Nook and keep that price point ... Ooh, doggies!

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