Sony smart watch

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.


Chris Nuttall

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. 

Chris Nuttall

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. 

Chris Nuttall

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. 

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. 

Chris Nuttall

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. 

Chris Nuttall

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. 

Chris Nuttall

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. 

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.


Chris Nuttall

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.