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.