For a long time, I’ve hoped that someone would build an e-reader in a Kindle-like form factor, but with a color LCD display–not because I was positive it’s a better way to go than E-Ink, but because I thought it was worth a try. Barnes & Noble’s Nookcolor is pretty much the e-reader I was thinking about–and I took it for a test drive for my latest Technologizer column on TIME.com.
The Nookcolor isn’t a Kindle killer: I think a lot of E-Ink fans aren’t going to be swayed by the idea of swapping a month of battery life and a glare-free screen for eight hours on a charge, color, and touch. But the Nookcolor has a lot to recommend it (along with a few glitches which I hope B&N will fix shortly–it’s been conscientious about releasing regular updates for the original Nook).
If the Nookcolor is a hit, will Amazon respond with a color-LCD Kindle? You never know, but the most obvious answer is: no, probably not. Last year, Jeff Bezos said a color Kindle was years off; the fact that the Kindle uses E-Ink is a defining aspect of its personality. It’s what makes a Kindle a Kindle, and my guess is that from this point out, e-reader buyers will get to pick from two very different approaches to e-readers. (On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a stunner if other players such as Sony tried LCD.)
While I was mulling over the subject of e-readers I also blogged at Techland on the fact that I do most of my e-reading on devices that aren’t actually e-readers–my iPhone, especially. I called that post “The Best E-Reader May Be No E-Reader at All.”