Kindle vs Nook Color Review

The Kindle is an eInk based dedicated reading device and the Nook Color is a LCD based Reading Tablet – This makes a Kindle vs Nook Color Review a very tricky proposition.

If you read 2 or more books a month then the Kindle is the better choice. If you read less than 1 book a month then Nook Color is a better choice.

This Kindle vs Nook Color Review is relevant only to people who read around 1 book a month or those who don’t know whether they should get a device dedicated to reading (Kindle) or a device focused on reading (Nook Color).

Kindle vs Nook Color Review – Reviewing Nook Color’s advantages

Nook Color comes in with a huge list of advantages over the Kindle (some of which don’t necessarily apply to reading) -

  1. It has a beautiful 7″ color screen which makes little difference for books but a lot of difference for children’s books and magazines. The screen also has slightly higher pixel density (169 ppi) than the Kindle’s screen (167 ppi). The screen is an IPS screen so it’s really good.
  2. Nook Color has touch which is a good feature to have for usability and for games and surfing. Web surfing in particular really benefits from the touchscreen.
  3. At $249 it provides better value for money than Kindle 3 ($189) – though not better value than Kindle WiFi ($139).
  4. Nook Color supports library books and ePub. A pretty significant advantage if you depend on Library books.
  5. It has a microSD card slot which lets you expand the memory (you can switch memory cards so in theory there’s unlimited memory). It also has larger on-board memory (8 GB) compared to the Kindle (4 GB).
  6. It has password protection on purchases. Kindle really needs this feature.
  7. Nook Color supports Word and Office files. This includes the old and new formats of Word (doc, docx), Powerpoint (ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx), and Excel.
  8. Nook Color has better PDF support.
  9. Nook Color has limited video format support – only MP4 video.
  10. It looks better than Kindle – a part of it is having a color screen, another part is a streamlined and unique design.
  11. Once B&N lets apps in there will be a lot to do – Apps will be able to use the color, touch, sound, accelerometer, and other features to great effect.
  12. Nook Color has an accelerometer so you can choose to have the orientation switch automatically.
  13. It lets you set up your own home screen and arrange objects on it and change their size. It also lets you set up your own custom wallpaper.
  14. There’s lending (one time only per book, for at most 14 days) if Publishers have enabled it for the book. It’s a limited feature but it does add value – Kindle will add it later this year.
  15. You can root the Nook Color i.e. strip away the B&N controls and layer. That means you can go to the underlying Android OS and use Nook Color as an Android Tablet with Android Apps. This does require technical savvy and voids your warranty so it’s not for everyone.
  16. Nook Color supports AAC and MP3 format music files while Kindle only supports MP3 format. Nook actually has a complete music player with support for playlists, shuffling, repeat, and more. Nook Color also has the Pandora music streaming app.
  17. B&N Store related features. You get free WiFi in B&N stores and can read any book for free for up to an hour a day. This is a feature that Publishers can disable.
  18. It has a back-light so you can read it in low-light conditions without needing a clip-on reading light. Please note that this affects some people’s sleep patterns so if you feel you aren’t sleeping as well once you start reading books on LCD screens at night it might a good idea to stop.
  19. Nook Color’s document organization section gives you more options in terms of separating books you buy from your own documents and in terms of letting you view books and magazines and newspapers separately. If you like book shelves the Nook Color has a Shelves feature that lets you arrange your books into shelves. 
  20. Nook Color has a choice of 6 different fonts and 6 different themes (night view, Sepia, etc.). Kindle only has 3 variants of Caecilia font and doesn’t really have themes.
  21. Nook Color just lets you do a lot more things – Touch and Color make Web surfing much better than on Kindle, the DRM’ed ePub support lets you buy books from other stores and get books from libraries, the games look better with color and are easier to play because of touch, photos obviously looks better, some video formats are supported.

The Nook Color is a very impressive Tablet and it does a decent job of focusing on reading.

Kindle vs Nook Color Review – Reviewing Kindle’s advantages

Kindle focuses on providing an uncompromised reading experience and it does a great job of it. It has lots of advantages over the Nook Color -

  1. The eInk screen is great for reading. It’s just like reading print on paper and doesn’t hurt your eyes and works in bright sunlight. If you are LCD-incompatible then there’s little doubt – You should get a Kindle.
  2. There’s a focus on reading and distractions are minimized. Kindle is terrible at everything other than reading – So the path of least resistance is to read books.
  3. It’s much easier to get lost in a book on the Kindle – This goes beyond the distractions aspect. In 2 weeks with Nook Color have only read Alice in Wonderland and that’s a small book.
  4. The Kindle Store is the best ebook store with the widest selection of new books and the best ebook prices. 
  5. Kindle WhisperNet provides a lot of great add-on services like synchronizing your place in a book and synchronizing notes and highlights.
  6. Kindle has incredible battery life (10 days with wireless on, a month with wireless off) while Nook Color battery life is just 8 hours with wireless off.
  7. Kindle is very light and compact. At 8.7 ounces it’s much lighter than Nook Color (15.8 ounces).
  8. Kindle 3 has both 3G and WiFi while Nook Color only has WiFi. 3G wireless is free in areas with AT&T network coverage and includes store browsing and Internet browsing.
  9. Kindle is available internationally and there are over 100 countries with Kindle WhisperNet coverage – For US Kindle owners this means free store browsing and free Internet over 3G in all these countries.
  10. Kindle has Text to Speech – this is a great feature. Publishers can turn it off and some do (40% to 50%) – However, the rest don’t. It also works on documents you add yourself but not on PDFs.
  11. Kindle supports Audible format for audiobooks – Nook Color doesn’t.
  12. Kindle has stereo speakers while Nook has a mono speaker.
  13. Kindle, thanks to the Kindle App store, has more games than Nook Color. Nook Color comes with Chess, Sudoku, and Crosswords while Kindle has Scrabble, Solitaire, Sudoku, Mahjong Solitaire, Texas Hold’em Poker, and a few more.
  14. Kindle is cheaper. You can get the Kindle WiFi for just $139 while Kindle 3 is $189.
  15. Kindle has a largest font size that is much larger than Nook Color’s largest font size. It also has more font size options (8 vs 6 for Nook Color).
  16. Kindle is simpler to use – things like searching the Kindle Store and purchasing Kindle books are very straightforward. Nook Color does have a nifty ‘instant’ search feature for on-Nook searches.
  17. Kindle works in bright sunlight and bright lighting conditions. Despite the ‘glare reducing layer’ the Nook Color isn’t readable in bright sunlight or under bright lights.

The Kindle is clearly better for reading and for focusing on reading. It is definitely not a Tablet and is not suited for anything other than reading.

Kindle vs Nook Color Review – the Kindle is dedicated to reading

The most crucial thing about the Kindle is that it’s completely dedicated to reading – If you want to read more or if you read a lot already and want a device that’s completely dedicated to reading then Kindle is the right choice.

Here are a few key things about the Kindle -

  1. Everything revolves around reading. The eInk screen is perfect for reading. The free 3G Internet access and Wikipedia access is more tailored to reference than to browsing. All the add-on features are add-ons to reading.
  2. Amazon focuses on providing an excellent eBook Store which you can access over 3G. It provides reading related features like syncing your place in a book across Kindles and Kindle apps. There are Kindle Reading Apps for other platforms so you can read even when your Kindle is not with you.
  3. Amazon has stuck with eInk and stayed dedicated to reading.

If you like to read or would like to read more Kindle is a good choice. If you love to read it’s a great choice.

Kindle vs Nook Color Review – Nook Color is a Tablet focused on reading

The Nook Color is a reading Tablet – to be more precise it’s a Tablet that does a few things to keep the focus on reading.

  1. It uses Android as the underlying OS but has built a layer over Android which is focused on reading. The main focus is on your books and your Documents Library and on the B&N Nook Store.
  2. There’s a LCD screen but it has a special layer over it to reduce glare. It doesn’t really make much of a difference but it’s nice that B&N tried.
  3. There will be a Nook App Store but it seems that only reading focused apps will be allowed in.

B&N have kept a tight focus on the reading capability of the Nook Color. This, however, doesn’t change a few facts -

  1. Nook Color is fundamentally a Tablet and a very capable one.
  2. Things like browsing are great because you have a 7″ touchscreen in color.
  3. It’s just as good for games and photos and surfing as it is for reading.

In a sense B&N is taking a multi-purpose Tablet and doing minor hardware changes (special anti-glare layer) and some sizeable software and policy changes (reading oriented top software layer, focus on reading apps) to create a device that is focused on reading and better than iPad and Tablets for readers.

The $250 price is also a key part of this ‘reading tablet’ strategy.

If you think a device should do more than just read while also providing a decent reading experience the Nook Color is the perfect device for you.

Kindle vs Nook Color Review – Conclusion

The grey area was – Which is the better device for readers who read 1 book a month?

After doing this Kindle vs Nook Color review it seems that the Nook Color is.

Kindle is clearly the better choice if you read more than 1 book a month, if you want to read more, or if you want an uncompromised reading experience. It’s a device dedicated to reading and provides the absolute best reading experience.

Nook Color is perfect for casual readers. If you read 1 book or less a month or if you want a device that is good for reading and can also do other things well then Nook Color is a great choice.

If you have the Kindle and Nook Color side by side you’ll almost always prefer to read on the Kindle. The worrying thing for Amazon is that Nook Color is better or much better for pretty much everything other than reading books and buying books.

The Kindle wins out in this Kindle vs Nook Color Review when it comes to pure reading experience and suitability for reading. The minute you expand into reading plus anything else the Nook Color pulls ahead.

18 Responses

  1. As I’ve said before, the Nook Color is a good tablet and ereader. However, as much as I want it I feel like I should stick with Kindle format books as I don’t want my library scattered across multiple drm schemes. I do have a Nook and Kindle, but haven’t used my Nook in months because I ended up buying more and more Kindle format books due to selection and price. And I’m still irritated there isn’t a mobipocket app for iPhone/android. Amazon screwed a lot of early ebook fans by not making Mobipocket libraries accessible on Kindle. As you probably know, Amazon’s purchase of Mobi is what gave them the ebook file format for the Kindle.

  2. This falls more under “question” than comment. First, thank you for the efficient breakdown of Kindle vs. Color Nook. I’ve been pretty satisified with my Kindle since I received it last year as a holiday gift. My only issues are these: first, why is it that Amazon can’t or won’t do anything so that I can download books from my library? Second, is there a reason that the Kindle has no back lighting?

    • Amazon probably doesn’t want to lose ebook sales revenue. so it won’t add support for DRM’ed ePub which would allow ebooks from other stores in.
      That also means library books can’t be supported since they use DRM’ed ePub.

      Kindle doesn’t have a back-light since they want to replicate the ink on paper experience – just like books use outside lighting Kindles do too. It’s actually easier on the eyes for most people and allows for reading in direct sunlight.

      • Yes, backlighting is great indoors, for me. At night, my wife will not allow a lamp or kindle light. This makes my iPad my most used reading device. However, during the warm 6 months in Indiana, e-ink is hands down the best way to read an ebook. Also, if it’s a Saturday and I’m reading an entire book, the Kindle doesn’t cramp my hand like the iPad can after a few hours.

      • First of all, thank you very much for the through review!
        I am in a process of deciding which reading tablet to buy. I became more sure about getting Kindle after your review.
        I heard you can convert the bookfomat using app called calibre. Have you done it before? What is your take on using such program?

        I’m excited to find out that Amazon would add “lending” option to Kindle later in the year.

      • Mami, which format to which format do you want to convert?

        I’ve used both Calibre and Mobipocket creater and it’s quite easy to use either. There are also lots of tips online if you run into any difficulties.

    • When my husband bought my kindle for me, the salesman told him that the battery on the kindle lasts much longer than the nook, and the life of the whole kindle unit last much longer. The Nook will wear out much sooner because of the backlighting.

      • The battery on the Kindle does last much longer.
        Life of the Kindle lasting much longer is a pretty dubious claim. The backlight of any LCD device doesn’t really make it ‘wear out much sooner’.

  3. Well I just have to say as one who owns a ipad and nookcolor the whole nice try BN for the extra layer for the screen sorry to inform you all but it works great in sunlight. I use it all the time on my way to work and what not and for any glare you can adjust your screen. comparing the screen vs ipad nookcolor has it hands down. As for the whole if you read a book a month thing. You can read just as many books on nookcolor than on eink maybe not everyone likes eink. I read several books last week, And here are two other things to think about children’s picture books on nookcolor are text to speech with a real voice, And coming soon they will have Alive touch on children’s books where the animation of the characters come to life while read. Plus you can actually download attachments from you email accounts etc. Pinch zoom etc and the whole apps for reading thing don’t mislead readers because BN just said an app store they didn’t say just what apps will be available yet.

  4. Okay guys. Do your research. The advantage you give to kindle is the bookstore is larger and cheaper than nook. NOT true! Amazon advertises 775,000 total kindle books available. Nookcolor has over 2 million. And over 1 million are free. Most nookbooks are also cheaper with few exceptions. And if you like the e ink screen better try barnes&noble e ink nook. It starts at 149.00 and ALL nooks have free Android software updates as opposed to kindle who releases a new kindle ervery few months. I’d be upset if i bought a kindle in the last few years as technology has passed them by.

    • Michael,
      Nook Store has –
      Over 1.5 million free books. Which are also available on the Internet from Internet Archive or from Google Books.
      It has under 500,000 new books.
      There have been extensive studies done, and Kindle Store was found to have cheapest prices.

      So you’re mistaken in your claims. Perhaps you should have read the fine print and not jumped at what B&N wrote. Notice the phrasing and how they make it seem that there are more new books than there really are.

  5. If you root your Nook Color, you can install Kindle on it and read both Kindle and Barnes and noble purchases. I purchased one for my wife, spent an hour rooting it, then downloaded the Kindle application for Android.

    Nook Color has clear advantages. The Nook can be restored to its stock factory status very simply.

    • Where can I find information on how to root the Nook? I would be very interested in doing the same thing you did.

  6. Why not just have both and quit fussing.

  7. “Kindle is clearly the better choice if you read more than one book a month…?”

    Really? Why? You haven’t provided any reason whatsoever to believe such a thing, and frankly the suggestion is utterly absurd. It’s like claiming “paperbacks are clearly better than hardbacks if you read more than X books a month” — only LESS rational, because at least in that case one could cite price as a reason.

    I have a Nook Color, and in the last month I’ve read at least a dozen books on it. Tell me how my reading would have been “better” if I’d been doing it on a Kindle. What magic feature do you think it possesses that makes reading books on it “better” than on my Nook Color — or any other device, for that matter?

    The Kindle’s stats surpass the Nook Color only in battery life, and that’s simply because of its e-ink screen — the same feature that renders it incapable of displaying colors or video.

    Anyone without an obvious pro-Kindle bias would conclude that both devices are equally good for reading e-books — regardless of how many books a month one reads, which is completely irrelevant — but the Nook Color is clearly the better choice for anyone who wants to do anything BESIDES just reading e-books.

  8. I live overseas and subscribe to The Economist. I would love to be able to do so with WiFi, but I only have a Kindle and the reviews for this magazine on Amazon are awful. Would the Color Nook be more comfortable for reading this publication?

    • Jack, I’d wait a bit. Kindle Fire will provide a completely different experience. Right now the reviews might be negative because Kindle doesn’t have color and leaves out some images due to bandwidth concerns.

      Kindle Fire and Nook Color will both use WiFi and have all/most of the photos and a different layout.

      For what it’s worth, the rating for The Economist on Nook Store is 3.5 stars on 61 ratings. Only 4 people have posted reviews with 3 5-star reviews and 1 ‘test’ 1-star review.
      This is the version available on Nook Color.

      ***
      Once I get my Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet (around November 20th) I’ll test Economist on both and add that in the comparison I do.

  9. I am a night reader. I use my ereader to read until I get sleepy. The only problem with kindle is I go through so many book lights it costs a fortune for batteries. My wish is
    for a kindle with back lighting.

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