I'm very impressed by the Nook, Barnes & Noble's new e-book reader. It's clear B&N has studied Sony's Reader and Amazon's Kindle very carefully.
The Nook has almost all of the major features of both product lines, plus a few more, with few competitive disadvantages. B&N has also followed Amazon's lead on support services. The Nook has a very good online e-book store as well as applications to support e-book reading on Macs, Windows machines, and smartphones.
The Nook doesn't ship until the end of November, but here's what I found most significant from the announcement and the pages at nook.com:
Industrial design I think the Nook is attractive and well-designed. It looks better than the Kindle 2, but not as good as Sony's Reader Touch Edition, which offers a larger screen in a smaller form factor. Also, Sony's forthcoming Reader Daily Edition is only slightly larger than the Nook, but offers a much larger screen.
Secondary color display This feature surprised me. It seems expensive and insufficiently functional for what must be a significant added cost. The low resolution of this display (480 x 144, according to a CNET blog post) means it won't be useful for much beyond the basic user-interface features B&N has already described: book covers, menus, and a keyboard for note-taking. (Although I should note for the record that while B&N says "Its full-color touchscreen encourages you to bookmark, add notes, and highlight passages," I haven't found a photo on the company Web site depicting the virtual keyboard shown in some of the pre-release images. Perhaps that's one of the features still under development.)
By comparison, the secondary color screen built into the Alex e-book reader from Spring Design, shown in another recent CNET story, is large enough to be useful. Unfortunately, it's also large enough to be very much in the way, leading to an awkward device. Spring Design and B&N need to make up their minds-- are they making e-book readers or something else?… Read more