Barnes & Noble's Nook Color e-book reader is poised to take on full-featured tablets with a software update to Google Android 'Froyo' 2.2. The revised platform (included in Barnes & Noble's firmware version 1.2) will be rolled out to web-connected Nook Color devices in the coming weeks. Those who just can't wait can download the update here.
The update, which includes Adobe Flash Player 10.1 support and access to the new Nook Color app store, allows Barnes & Noble to enter the tablet market with a bold claim: its device boasts more features than the Amazon Kindle and costs half the price of an Apple iPad.
The new app store includes the most sought-after apps, including the popular Angry Birds game. We also like the sound of a free app that lets a child create their own book, which can then be submitted to ‘Tikatok Picks' or the 'Tikatok Book of the Week’.
A Nook Friends app, which is exclusive to Barnes & Noble, functions much like social networks Facebook and Twitter. The app lets you discuss, recommend or read titles suggested by others.
Nook Color 1.2 offers various other improvements, including Nook Email. The software offers an enhanced reading experience with access to more than two million books, 300 interactive children’s stories and 150 magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Another quirky addition is author signatures, with e-book writers able to digitally autograph their books using e-stylus. Sandra Boynton, author of The Going to Bed Book, will be the first to use the feature.
Although the Nook Color 1.2 is mainly designed as a reading device, it offers much of the functionality of a computer. At an appealing price of $249 (the Nook Color is available only in the US), it could prove to be one of the best-value tablets on the market and a real rival not only to the Archos 70 Android e-book reader and colour readers from BeBook and Bookeen, but the market-dominating Kindle and iPad too.