in Tech Zone

My NOOK Color First Impressions, Pictures and Review

I wanted to buy an iPhone 4 but ended up buying NOOKColor [Thanks to Apple India]. My requirements were reading ebooks and internet surfing along with loaded OS device, hence I decided to get NOOK Color and I believe, I made the best decision. And it is a sweet gift from sister :)

Lets start :D

Box and Packaging :

NC color comes in white rectangular box with all accessories as mentioned. When you open the box, you find Nook Color [NC] suspended between two thermocols supports in one side, on the other side a small box containing all accessories. The box is spacious and with all accessories kept at right place. The thermocol supports also prevent NC from external shock etc. At the openings you can find magnets installed within, so that the box can close tightly.

What’s inside the box :

  • NOOK Color
  • USB Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Congratulation on your new Nook Envelope
  • Anti glare screen protector and micro fibre cloth [Costs $16 extra]

The box can also be used as stand to hold NC :

Supported file types:

  • Ebooks/Documents: EPUB, PDF, XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, TXT, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLX, PPTX
  • Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • Audio: MP3, AAC
  • Video: MP4
  • Build and Design:

    The design of Nook Color is really good as you can see it in pictures. It’s solidly built, with buttons placed at appropriate locations, a dark slate-colored bezel and a black, rubberised back. The back of NC has rubber finish which also gives more grip while holding it and making it less scratch resistant.

    It is thin but not light weighted as it looks. At the top of the NC there is 3.5 mm audio jack and at the bottom USB socket to connect to PC. The same port is used for charging the NC. At upper right side there are Volume up/down buttons and power button at the upper left side.

    There’s a hook at the bottom left of NC where you latch your signutare charms which B&N selling off online. The backside, the bottom houses mono speakers, which are not so loud but does the work.

    The dimensions of the NC:

    • Height: 8.1 inches
    • Width:5.0 inches
    • Depth: 0.48 inches

    Depth comparison between NC, a novel and a magazine :

    Another thickness comparison :

    It said that NC uses rapid charging technology and whenever you plug the charger,on USB cable orange light shows up ! 

    Once charging is completed, it turns into Green color. You can even charge connected it to computer, but it takes lot of time. Connected to socket it charges in 3 hours and gives approx 8 hours of battery back up.

    First impressions and OOB Experience:

    I should say, I was very impressed when I saw it for the first time, out of box. The Out of box [OOB] experience was really good, unlike other Android devices. Android devices are quite (in)famous for not giving good OOB experience. The moment I held it in my hands, I felt it is not light as it looks. Yes, the NC is heavy. It is almost double the weight of latest Kindle [Gen. 3] and it is slightly lighter than iPad.

    Weights :

    • Kindle 3 – ~250g [8.7 ounces]
    • NC – ~448g [15.8 ounces]
    • iPad – ~680g [24 ounces]

    The device starts off with the text “Touch the future of reading™”. When you turn it on for the first time, it guides for WiFi set up and registration with B&N. A video guide of Kate appears for basic instructions. Yeah, she’s cute The next process is simple, all you have to do is enter your B&N account details if you already have or you can create one from the device itself. Then the device starts. Note that, unless you register, you can’t use the NC. [but there are ways to bypass it]

    Power button positioned at top left boots the device up and also awakens/sends it from/to sleep. The sleep mode includes clock with and can be unlocked by sliding arrow at the bottom (as seen most other android devices).

    When you unlock, the smooth and customizable interface of Home appears. The Home screen has three variants [like multiple desktops as found in Linux machines]. At the bottom Daily Shelf ticker runs along horizontally. Transparent montage of book covers appears on default wallpaper. At the top screen of Home, has options for selecting most recently read books or choosing last 3 reecnts by tapping more. At the bottom, there is Open book icon upon pressing returns to book last read.

    The n button, called as Home button, postioned at the bottom used for navigation and upon pressing it brings back to home screen. Other buttons will appear at the bottom of touch screen, an up arrow button, for quick navigation. Tapping the center arrow button brings navigation bar. Notifications at the extreme left side. There are also battery, WiFi, clock etc can be found.

    The Up button, used for quick navigation, can be used to go Library, Shop, Search, Extras, Web, Settings.

    Library contains all your books, magazines and newspapers. It loaded with Quick Guide and user guides. There are some free books available to donwload. [Though these are free, you need to enter your Credit Card info to download them]. Shop takes us to online B&N shop where you can purchase books / magazines/ news papers right off the device.

    The Extras contains, other applications and games preinstalled such as Gallery, Music, Contacts, Sudoko, Pandora [not available for Indian consumers], Chess, Crossword etc. The default music player is has clean interface and does the job well, so does default web browser. The given speakers are not so loud, but can be used to listen audio books. Using the device with good set of earphones like PL-11, it can be great experience to listen music and watch videos.

    The touch response is very nice and snappy. The LCD screen is really good, vivid and has really good clarity.

    Reading experience on LCD :

    The texts appear clear and sharp and one can easily adjust fonts conveniently. So far my reading experience with this device has been wonderful To test the display, I have read under different lightings like complete dark room, in college class room, under lamp light and outside. I say, it was good and I faced no problems while reading, NC handled glare wonderfully in all conditions.

    Kids books appear in horizontal mode by default.

    As it has LCD screen, direct visibility under sun light is not good. I live in a city where normal temp is 35C, I’d have burn my arse if I sit under sun light to read :P Hence I have no problem with visibility under direct sun light.

    If you search Google, lots of [stupid] kindle fanbois have filled web with reading on LCD causes eye strain. One thing I totally agree is, NC cannot beat the real text appearance of E-ink display of Kindle. On Kindle, the texts display OMG natural like a piece of paper. But NC’s display not all bad. I have finished three ebooks on this, in the first week of testing and I am totally happy and there’s no eye strain to me at all. To tell you, I spend minimum 8 hours infront of my Dell lappie, which has B+RGLED display. You can tell me that my eyes are strong, before that, go use the Nook Color yourself once. Go ask in any Nook Color community, there’d be no unsatisfied user with its reading. So I conclude, there is no such thing as eye strain with this NC with my personal experinece. If you are getting eye strains, think just you’re unlucky. This link explains all. [And don’t forget to read comments :P]

    You might have also read, that poeple saying, one can read on NC on bed where as in Kindle you can’t as it requires external source of light. This is just false statement from obsessed NC owners in reply to Kindle. But this is not true, when I tried to read on NC while on bed, I couldn’t. My hands started paining within half an hour and eventually I ended propping it up on my chest. Yes, NC is heavy. One have to be Hulk[or Robin Hood Pandey] to hold it, while reading on bed. But I see no problem while sitting, or keeping it on table or desk. It’s weight is roughly half Kg, hence reading posture matters lot. If you want to read books lying on bed, then get kindle and a clip-on light. Works really nice.

    But in Kindle you cannot read Comics, Newspapers and Magazines with colorful chicks’ pics. You can’t. Kindle is best for reading classic novels. If you want a device just for reading, strictly reading, get Kindle. More about Kindle vs NC later.

    Let’s get dirty, Hacking NC :

    NC has really good community support and it is very easy to hack it. There are very less chances [%1 and you should be dipshit] to NC have bricked while rooting. I have read every instructions thrice, before doing anything and have my NC hacked aka rooted. It took me exactly 4 minutes to hack it and 2 mins to load the custom kernel.

    Hacking this NC turns it into, wobderful tablet with limiltess possibilities and vast fun. Now I have installed more than 150 apps/games and having lots of fun. NC is not an official Android Tablet, hence not all apps/games support it. Some might crash, some run at lower resolution etc. By theory, apps which work with Samsung Galaxy Tab, should work with NC. Hacking enables us to install good media players which can handle variety of video formats. Movie watching experience is absolutely nice.

    I have GMail app, whenever I get a new mail I get notification/beep. Same with Gmail Chat app. I have wordpress app, by which I can manage my blog easily. Now I can add lots of widgets to my home screen, which gives current news, wether info etc etc etc. The apps like Guitar, Piano, Drums runs well and took the musical maestro out of me :P

    Note : I don’t know what has gone wrong, the video is of only 32secs, but Youtube plays it for 1 min >_> and no need to comment on my musical skills 

    Angry birds runs smooth and fun to play on this. There is no lag at all. I have also installed other motion sensor and 3D games such as Aspalt 5, Fast Furious, Krazy Karts and many more.

    This was one of the main reason I bought this. Another reason for it’s awesome hardware. The technical specs are as follows :

    • CPU : ARM Cortex A8 @ 800 MHz (same processor as Droid 2 and Droid X)
    • GPU Processor: PowerVR SGX530 (same GPU as Droid 2 and Droid X)
    • RAM: 512MB
    • Internal Flash: 8GB
    • Removable Flash: 32GB via microSDHC
    • Display: 7″ 1024×600 IPS Display wVividView LED Backlight (same as HTC 7 Surround and HTC 7 Mozart)

    It even has Bluetooth chip, but it is inactive as of now. Soon it’ll be enabled ! Also one can make file transfers over WiFi only, once you have rooted it. You can overclock easily, takes just 2 mins to apply custom kernel. Right now one can OC upto 1.1GHz. And it runs stable with no problems whatsoever. Following is screenshot of Quadrant when NC running at 950GHz in Froyo.

    Official update for 2.2 is soon to be expected from B&N [may be April]. As of now, you can run Honeycomb on it and it runs smooth ;)

    Verdict :

    If you love reading and like to browse web occasionally NC is for you. NC is best for those who read Magazines, Tech Books and newspapers etc.

    Kindle :

    • Buy this if you want strictly for reading, strictly and nothing else
    • For really good battery back up [~25 days]
    • if you have faint of heart and scared to hack and play with NC
    • if you are Chuck Noland [of Cast Away] and getting dumped on remote island for a month
    • With Kindle you don’t get a box which can be used as stand

    Nook Color

    • If you want to read magazines, comics etc
    • If you like have little multimedia experience along with reading
    • Play games and have little fun
    • Don’t mind reading on LCD and only 8 hours of battery back up

    You can easily decide which device you should go for by reading above conclusions. Also Kindle is lot cheaper than NC. As of now colored E-ink display costs lot. Recently, in CES 2011, colored E-ink reader has been shown. I expect Kindle / Nook to get colored E-ink by next year. So, as of now your deciding factors should be based on how much you gonna read and what exactly you want in your ebook reader.

    Pros :

    • It is a Batman’s gadget. Full blown tablet masked under eBook reader ;)
    • 7 inch vibrant touch display
    • Snappy
    • Great for reading comics, magazines and newspapers
    • Whopping 8GB [+ 32GB ] capacity
    • Can also be used as multimedia device
    • Vast choice of media support over Kindle
    • Nice built in background settings in reader
    • Social Netwroking friendly

    Cons :

    • Gee, it’s heavy. An ebook reader is not supposed to be heavy
    • NO 3G, it’s a WiFi must device and we’re in India.
    • Stock B&N reader doesn’t support reading in horizontal mode
    • PDF handling in stock reader needs to be improved
    • No support for files such as LIT, AMZ, LRZ/LRX
    • Only 8 hours battery back up
    • User non-replaceable battery
    • Speaker should needs to be little more louder

    Bottom line : It’s a “Reader Tablet”, you get two devices at the cost of one. Seriously, the B&N Nook Color made gap between ebook readers and tablets smaller. It is a perfect device that sits comfortably between an dedicated ebook reader and multimedia capable tablet.

    PS – Tablets are entirely new kind of device for me, I spent a week before writing it’s review. Though you’re welcome to correct me for any mistakes :P And without Megan Fox, my review would have been incomplete :P

    HQ Image Gallery – Link

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    32 Comments

    1. This is by far the most thorough review I have seen. Very real user and not just selling the reader. Do you have any links to rooting instructions?

      Thanks.

    2. Hi! I am waiting for my NC color to arrive so I have been lurking the internet to see what I can do with it. I have seen hundred of posts in XDA Dev and other android forums with great info but generally lack patience and wording geared for noobs like me.

      Your post is one of the few I found where I felt I was talking to a friend who patiently explained the pros and cons of the Nook and also directed me to down to earth sources of how to go about tweaking it.

      Thank you!!! You have great blogging abilities! I can’t wait for my Nook which I plan to root, OC and also run Gingerbread/Honeycomb off sd card.

      Greetings from Costa Rica!!!

    3. Hello! I want to buy nook color but whenever i enter postal details on B&N website, i get the foll error
      “In compliance with shipping regulations, some item(s) in your order cannot be sent to Chandigarh in India.
      Please provide another address below or edit your shopping bag to remove the following item(s):
      NOOKcolor”
      same error is given when i enter new delhi
      How did u buy it?

    4. Hey there. I am looking to buy a Nook Color and would like to know more about your experience. Can we catch up over email (mine is here) or phone? (I have sent you a FB request as well) LoL.

      – Shankar

    5. Avin – Very nice review. As others have said – better than most out there.

      One question.
      You said:
      “If you want to read books lying on bed, then get kindle and a clip-on light. Works really nice.”

      For me this is how I will be reading after coming back from office. So I’m taking your word for it and getting a kindle/nook simple touch , instead of the NC!

      • Thank you :)

        Yup, NC is heavy & it is not very comfortable to read on bed. Kindle is good, but however comes with lots of restrictions like copying books over USB etc. But reading experience on Kindle will be lot good & since it is half the NC, you won’t feel that heavy to read on bed.

        It’s been a year since I am using NC & I am selling it & getting back to hard copies. I think nothing can beat ‘real’ books. I used NC as a tablet rather than a eReader lol. I think I am better off with real books :P