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Nook Color a Hit and a Miss

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

The software

Navigating between various books and other content is easy on the Nook Color. Tap the screen to open up your book collection and then swipe left and right to see the color book covers before tapping to select a desired novel, magazine or newspaper. You can also choose to download books wirelessly or surf the web, via a Wi-Fi connection. Too bad the Nook Color doesn't have 3G (cellular) connectivity, allowing you to download anywhere life takes you; instead, you need to be in a wireless network at home, in an airport lounge, hotel or café.

The B&N Shop has more than 2 million titles to choose from, says Barnes & Noble, and prices are comparable to other e-book stores. Downloading a new book took mere seconds.

One of the key differentiators between the Nook Color and other e-book readers is support for many magazines and newspapers, and all of them offer a free trial. More than two dozen newspapers are also available for subscription at the online Barnes & Noble store.

Those who have young kids or grandkids might also want to download the many Read to Me books, where children can choose to hear the story read aloud by a narrator, if desired.

Based on Google's Android mobile operating system, the Nook Color has an Extras area where you can play around with a few applications ("apps"), such as streaming music from Pandora, play a game of Sudoku or chess, look up phone numbers of friends and so on.

The summary

Overall, the Nook Color has a lot going for it — it's a powerful and versatile e-book reader that especially shines in the magazine and newspaper department. But on the flipside, the limiting 7-inch screen means magazine and newspaper viewing is hampered by frequent zooming in and out — and the touchscreen isn't as responsive at this task.

Shortcomings aside, those who want more than a barebones e-book reader — yet not quite the robust feature-set of a pricier tablet — will likely find the Nook Color a good balance between the two.

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