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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are the Kindle killers on the way?

The rumors were true. Barnes & Noble has officially launched its own e-reader known as, Nook. The new device improves on other e-readers including the Kindle for a few main reasons. First, it features a dual screen that is part black and white E Ink and part color LCD touch screen. The LCD portion is powered by the Google Android operating system and used for navigation and browsing the B&N bookstore while the E Ink portion is for reading. Second, users will be able to loan books to friends using the device’s “LendMe” technology. According to B&N’s website, most books can be shared to and from any Nook, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, PC, or Mac computer that has the software installed for up to 14 days. The inability to share books with friends is a common complaint among digital book readers so this feature is sure to please consumers. Third, the device supports e-books in the ePub format. Several of the other Nook features are comparable to the Kindle 2 and the B&N website features a side-by-side comparison chart to show the similarities and differences. Similar to the Kindle, the Nook will synchronize books across devices so that users can place a bookmark on one device and have it display on another. In addition, the device will feature AT&T wireless, 2 GB of internal storage to hold about 1500 books, and an SD card slot for additional storage.

It has been an interesting week in the e-reader space because it looks like the Nook device is just the first of several combination devices to come. Earlier this week, a company called Spring Design, announced that it will be launching a similar dual screen device later this year. The device will be known as Alex, and it will also utilize the Google Android operating system. According to the press release, users can read text on the E Ink screen while viewing hyperlinked multimedia information on the LCD screen. A posting on Engadget’s website features a video demonstration of the device.

In addition, Entourage Systems has announced a two screen device called eDGe. This is a larger device that was designed for education and features two screens, a 9.7 inch E Ink display on the left and a 10.1 inch LCD screen on the right. According to the company’s website, users will be able to take notes on the device with a stylus, highlight text, send e-mails, take pictures, browse the web, and play audio and video content.

With three multi screen devices popping up just this week, we can expect that additional combination devices are on the way. These devices could significantly enhance the user experience and bring digital reading to the next level.

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