The Nook Simple Touch Is An E-Reader That Wants To Be A Black And White iPad

The Nook Simple Touch Is An E-Reader That Wants To Be A Black And White iPad

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.

  • Bom Cabedal

    Good show, and I do think there’s a market for ultra-light reading devices that are much cheaper than an iPad. Still, I like the look of the upcoming (and similarly-priced) Kobo Touch reader even more.

  • Bugbytes Security

    Hackintosh Time.

  • cheesy11

    in the current market climate, i dont see this surviving or having marketshare

  • Mitchell Busby

    It looks awful to me, definitely keeping my 1st gen nook. Or eventually upgrade to something more useful.
    Without the extras like a web browser, MP3 player and the little LCD colour touch strip, it’s just not worth it for me. Also, it looks childish and ugly. I want my gadgets to be shiny, clean and modern.

  • Jeffrey Gardner

    I’m sorry, but IMHO you just can’t beat the physical keyboard that the Kindle has. How do you type notes on such a small touch screen?

  • Robert

    You can’t honestly believe that the nook wants to be a black and white iPad, can you? It’s still designed for reading, not everything else. That said, I’m keeping my original Nook until the next design refresh.

  • Marisano

    How can you be so sure about your opinion when you almost certainly haven’t tested the virtual keyboard on the Simple Touch? [It has larger keys, that could one to type more quickly and accurately.]

  • Rustic

    I would like it rooted. Email, News, E-Reader, and other text based sites. I am not interested in movies, pictures, games, and other stuff that requires fast moving color. I read black and white news papers and pictures in black in white there works just fine. I have other ways to get and watch graphics. I don’t answer most emails so the type of keyboard means little to me. If this tablet is successfully rooted it will be in my future.

  • Misti

    I have no problems typing on it. I’m used to typing on my iPhone, so this is actually very easy.

  • Keny Waters

    Being an owner of this device I can tell you (well, it’s already pretty obvious even if you’ve only read the product description and never seen it up close) that it is not in any way at all trying to be an iPad. It’s trying to be a superior eReader, and it is succeeding at that. 

  • Joe Bush

    Rediculous title and comparison for your article. But not surprising given you are ‘news editor at Cult of Mac’. Apples and oranges…you should be ashamed.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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