It’s no iPad, that’s for sure, but Barnes & Noble has just taken a big new step towards making e-readers even more accessible to the populace at large: they’ve added a touchscreen to their latest Nook,
Set to ship on June 10th and costing just $139, the Nook Simple Touch isn’t the first e-ink reader to boast a touchscreen — Sony’s had some for quite awhile — but it might be the first worth a damn.
Running a custom build of Android, just like its big brother the Nook Color, the Nook Simple Touch is shorter and easier to hold than the Kindle, eschewing the Kindle’s physical keyboard and hardware buttons for the easy-to-use, dynamic simplicity of a proddable, swipeable touchscreen.
The touchscreen isn’t capacitive, like the iPad’s. Rather, there’s an infrared ring around the Nook Simple Touch’s display that senses finger input and passes it along to the Android OS. You can use touch input not just to swipe through pages of a book, but also to look up words, highlight passages, make notes and access the Nook bookstore.
The touchscreen isn’t the only improvement over the Kindle, though: a new proprietary technology has also been introduced with the Nook Simple Touch, which prevents the black-and-white ghosting seen on other e-readers with a more elegant dissolve effect.
Hardware wise, the Nook Simple Touch is driven by an 800MHz TI OMAP 3 processor and comes with 2GB of onboard storage, expandable by microSD slot. The operating system is a custom baked version of Android 2.1. Unfortunately, the new Nook is a WiFi-only affair.
To be honest, we’re pretty excited about the new Nook. No, it’s no iPad, but hackers have already turned the Nook Color into a cheap $249 tablet. We’re eager to see if these same hackers can do the same for an e-ink touchscreen reader with an Android base. If so, a remedial black-and-white tablet might be within everyone‘s financial reach.