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It will take a lot to knock the iPhone off its perch as the best-selling smartphone. So, competitors are circling around its success and uniform design with different features, screen sizes and the odd gimmick. This week, a look at new pairings and partnerships that offer consumers more flexibility.

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Barnes & Noble already produced the best pure eReader for me in the $99 Simple Touch, with its touchscreen, a great display that was never washed out by sunlight and two months of battery life, due to E Ink technology being used for its 6in black-and-white screen.

But with no backlight, it was no good for reading in the dark.

That chapter has been closed with Thursday’s announcement of the Simple Touch with GlowLight, a lighter 7oz version which adds a soft, adjustable glow to the E Ink display. Read more

No tablet maker has made much of a dent in the iPad’s share of the market, so why should we expect more from a couple of eReader makers looking to expand beyond books?

Price is the key reason. The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are more than 50 per cent cheaper than the cheapest iPad and could win a new audience looking for value and pure content consumption, if only in the US. I have had a limited time using both in their launch week and initial thoughts are after the jump. Read more

Barnes & Noble has unveiled its response to Amazon’s Kindle Fire in the shape of a lighter 7in tablet with more memory, longer battery life and what it claims is a superior display.

The Nook Tablet will be on shelves from next week in the US at $249, at the same time the $199 Fire launches. Read more

Tech news from the web:

Barnes & Noble is to introduce the Nook Tablet, a lighter, faster, 7-inch color touchscreen e-reader, Engadget reports. The Nook Tablet is set to be released on November 16th for $249.

According to a study by Ernst & Young LLP, US venture capital investment in clean technology rose 73 percent from last year in the third quarter, Bloomberg reports. Read more

The release of Amazon’s Kindle DX black-and-white eReader a year ago was also meant to presage a new era of colour for the devices. E Ink, provider of the screen’s technology, had improved the contrast by 50 per cent with this new “Pearl” display to ensure viewing would not be dimmed too much when it laid a filter on top to add colour to eReaders. But, a year on, it seems device makers are sticking to black and white due to dissatisfaction with E Ink’s solution. Read more

If you’re thinking of taking a pile of books for your holiday reading, think again, and consider the featherweight Barnes & Noble Nook 2nd Edition eReader instead. I am a big fan of the larger $250 Nook Color, which mixes tablet functionality with great eReader software on a colour screen, but I like this new $140 Nook even more for its smaller size and pure and simple functionality focused on digital books. Read more

One feature I have been waiting for in eReader software, which is a little obscure but would be a killer one for me, is the ability to click or tap on a word or phrase and get an instant translation (I would thus spend less time using the dictionary when reading French novels). You can’t do it with Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color and add-on dictionaries for each language have to be bought for Amazon’s Kindle and are limited in their capabilities. However, Google has finally come to the rescue, with word and passage translations between a multitude of languages being one of three new free Google Books features. Read more

Barnes & Noble has released a major update for the Nook Color that boosts the popular eReader’s appeal as a budget tablet.

With Amazon rumoured to be planning an Android tablet of its own, its rival is introducing more than 100 new apps, including the Drawing Pad art studio and games such as Angry Birds, while its browser has been improved and an email program added.

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You can play Scrabble on Amazon’s Kindle now, but the double-word squares are still a shade of grey rather than pink.

Colour is coming next year to E Ink devices, but you can enjoy it now with the NookColor, the new LCD-based eReader from Barnes & Noble,  reviewed in this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. Read more

The first reviews are out on Barnes & Noble’s eReader, the Nook. Like the device itself apparently, they don’t make for pretty reading.

The influential reviewer David Pogue, writing in the New York Times, accuses B&N of rushing the product to market before it is ready and says: “To use the technical term, it’s slower than an anesthetized slug in winter.”

Peter Svensson, AP Technology writer, begins his review equally unpromisingly: “I’ve been trying Barnes & Noble Inc.’s $259 Nook for a few days, and I’m not eager to prolong the acquaintance,” he says. Read more

Just as Amazon’s Kindle is going all gangbusters at the start of the holiday season, the launch of perhaps its most-formidable rival is getting off to a rocky start.

The Nook, an e-reader from bookseller giant Barnes & Noble, was hailed as an improvement on the Kindle when it was unveiled in October. It supports the open Epub file format, and has a colour, touch-screen navigation interface in addition to an E-Ink screen.

But Barnes & Noble looks to have been blindsided by high demand for the Nook. A week before Thanksgiving the company said the Nook would be sold-out through the holidays.

Now comes news that while shipments will begin today, as scheduled, the Nook will not be available in Barnes & Noble stores until December 7Read more

We did wonder about the timing two weeks ago, when the first eReader with dual screens, one of them colour, appeared 24 hours before another eReader, also with dual screens, one of them colour.

Draw your own conclusions, but Spring Design, which launched the Alex on the eve of Barnes & Noble’s Nook, now says it has filed a lawsuit alleging “Barnes & Noble misappropriated trade secrets and violated the parties’ non-disclosure agreement when it copied Alex’s features into its recently announced Nook e-book.” Read more