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Nook Color a Hit and a Miss

Barnes & Noble's hybrid device gets a lot right, some wrong.

The hardware

As the name suggests, the Nook Color features a color 7-inch touchscreen. The display is backlit like the Apple iPad, which makes it easier to read in dim locations — but it's not as conducive for outdoor reading (in direct sunlight) compared with the "e-ink" displays found in other e-book readers.

That said, the screen's high-resolution makes it comfortable to read electronic books, thanks to crisp black font (and six adjustable text sizes) and colorful pictures. You can hold the Nook Color in landscape or portrait view, whatever is more comfortable for you, and the screen will flip automatically thanks to a built-in sensor.

Compared with the nearly 10-inch iPad, though, the Nook Color isn't as nice for reading magazines and newspapers because the smaller screen size means you need to constantly zoom in and out in sections to read a page (this isn't an issue with books). Also, while you can pinch and expand your fingers on the screen to zoom into text or photos, there is a delay in the action, which can be frustrating. Instead, I'd recommend double-tapping on the Nook Color display for a quick zoom-in, and then using your finger to center the text you're trying to read.

A handy loop on the lower-right of the Nook Color can be attached to a strap, purse or backpack to prevent accidental drops.

The Nook Color ships with 8 Gigabytes (GB) of built-in memory, enough to hold a few thousand e-books, but you can also expand the memory up to 32GB with an optional microSD card.

But be aware the Nook Color is quite heavy at 15.8 ounces — almost twice the weight of the 8.5-ounce Amazon Kindle. You can really feel the weight when the e-reader is in your hands.

Another issue is battery life: While some e-book readers can go more than a week (of moderate to heavy use), the Nook Color clocks in between 6 to 8 hours with the screen dimmed down — or less than that at full brightness.

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