Students can highlight or type in words using the nook’s touchscreen
keyboard, and the device will display definitions. The touchscreen also
serves as a basic Web browser when connected to the Internet by Wi-Fi.
The Kindle’s controls
turn pages forward or back from either
side of the screen, and you can manually reorient the display to a landscape
or portrait view.
E-ink is truly a spectacular technology. It doesn’t flicker, the contrast is
high, the typography is almost on par
with paper, and you can change the
At $189, the Kindle may be affordable for use in the classroom, and you
may be able to recoup some of that
investment through savings on books
purchased. If and when textbook
publishers fully jump on the e-book
bandwagon, the Kindle is likely to be a
supported device. When that happens,
the economics will certainly shift. For
now, the Kindle would make an excellent addition to a classroom and any
library to use as a shared device.
Literally as we were going to press,
Amazon announced two new versions
of the Kindle. Although delivery dates
aren’t set, nor are features, Amazon says
the new Kindle models will include Wi-Fi as an option and hinted that along
with other improvements, buyers can
expect further price reductions.
ports EPUB, an open standard format.
The company claims more than a million titles are compatible with its reader.
Although this compares very well with
Amazon’s claim of more than 600,000
Kindle titles, the reality is that Amazon
is counting only titles in its proprietary
format. If you add in the hundreds of
thousands of books and other publications in formats the Kindle can also
read, the numbers are similar.
The difference in bookstores is
perhaps the fulcrum point for buyers. I found Amazon’s bookstore to
be easy to use and buy from. Although Barnes & Noble can’t quite
compete with Amazon’s e-commerce
expertise, the nook’s reliance on the
EPUB standard means you are not
limited to your vendor’s bookstore.
Of course, all of these readers can
handle a variety of files, but when it
comes to buying a book, you’ll want
to stick to the format designed to
display best on your device, and the
nook does allow you to shop anywhere that sells EPUB titles.
Barnes & Noble nook
The nook doesn’t get the fanfare or
recognition of the Kindle, yet it is every bit as powerful a reading device.
The nook has the same 6-inch E-ink
display with 16-level grayscale and has
identical storage compatibility (about
1,500 books). The nook even has free
3G cellular technology through AT&T
(paid by Barnes & Noble).
The nook is basically the same size
as the Kindle—slightly thicker, but
smaller in width and height. It also
weighs a couple ounces more. The
nook features a color touchscreen
below the E-ink display instead of a
keyboard. It’s small, but I found the
touchscreen quite usable. I prefer the
Kindle keyboard, but it is a close call,
and I’m guessing younger users may
prefer the touch controls.
Both nook and Kindle use mini-USB cables for charging (with full-size
USB ports and removable AC plugs on
the other end). E-ink is an incredibly
low-power display technology. Even
with the 3G capabilities left on, both
devices are easily capable of lasting a
week between charges and two weeks
if you disable the communications.
The nook adds Wi-Fi capabilities,
which is important when you consider
that the 3G network is from AT&T. As
with all three of the Wi-Fi devices I
tested (nook, eDGe, and iPad), connecting to an available network was
fast and simple. I also found speeds
somewhat higher than 3G.
Where the nook
really differs from
the Kindle is in the
marketplace for books.
Instead of using Amazon’s AZW file format,
Barnes & Noble sup-