Another entry into the great holiday tablet battle came today from Barnes & Noble, which announced a color, touchscreen version of its Nook reading device.
The bookseller expects to begin selling the “NOOKcolor” on Nov. 19 for $249. It has a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen that displays 16 million colors. Inside, the device has a Wi-Fi radio and 8 gigabytes of memory. It’s 8 by 5 inches overall, 0.48 inches thick and weighs 15.8 ounces.
Although it’s built around the Nook electronic bookstore, which competes with Amazon.com’s Kindle business, the color Nook is also aiming up-market, at the iPad and upcoming Android tablets.
The device is being pitched as a media consumption tablet, with the ability to browse the Web, play games, send e-mail, participate in social networks and store and play digital music. Or read.
Barnes & Noble noted that the NOOKcolor is based on Google’s Android operating system — Version 2.1. The store is inviting Android developers to build Nook applications, although they won’t be able to directly transfer Android apps to the Nook because it has a custom interface and controls.
The new Nook also syncs with Google’s Gmail, so you can use Gmail contacts with social features, including a feature that lets you lend e-books to friends with Nooks.
The Nook’s upgrade may get Amazon to speed up work on a color Kindle, or perhaps even push Apple to lower iPad prices.
But it could use a better name. Some might wonder if the NOOKcolor is radioactive.