Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventures in Tablet-ing: Part Deux

So, its been a few days since I wrote about the S7 tablet, and since then there's been a new development--I no longer have it. As much as I dug the S7, I was struggling with a few things about it that ultimately made me decide to return it. First, the more I used the resistive touch screen of the S7, the more I struggled with it. At the end if the day, it just wasn't as responsive as I needed it to be. What concerned me the mt was they virtual keyboards--both the Huawei and the standard virtual keyboards were poorly laid out. The keys were too close together, and on way too many occasions, I had trouble getting the correct letters to register. Because I planned on using the tablet for writing as well as for consuming content, that meant I'd need to buy a wireless keyboard to get any real writing done on it. Which brings up another big problem--the complete lack f accessories for the S7. There is nothing out there in the way of keyboards, cases, chargers or anything else fir tyebS7, and no real sign of when thy might be coming. Because of the size of the S7 (its longer than mt 7" screen tablets), none of the generic cases fit with it. You also can't charge the S7 through a usb charger, which is a real bummer since he device has a lousy battery life, which necessitates frequent charging

So, for those reasons and more, I decided to take the tablet back to Best Buy.

Enter the Nook Color. The device that started me on this quest for a tablet computer. Basically, I was getting impatient for the Nook Color's release, and I convinced myself that if could spend $50 bucks more than the cost of the Nook Color and get a more full-featured computer, I should do it.  After failing to find what I wanted with the Cruz and the S7, I went back to the Nook Color.  And while the Nook Color is not really a full-fledged tablet computer yet, it's got a lot of potential.

One of the things I appreciate most now about the Nook Color is it's design.  The device feels solid, and the "power" and "home buttons" are its only moving parts.  The 7" screen is absolutely beautiful, and most importantly, extremely responsive.  The screen is capacitive and supports multi-touch, so you can resize images, including the book covers that populate your home screen.

The eReader functions are the Nook Color's bread and butter, and they work flawlessly.  As I mentioned, you can keep frequently read books on your home screen for easy access, or you can tap the toolbar icon to bring up a menu that can take you to the B&N shop, let you browse through your books and files, or open up the web browser. When reading, you can adjust the brightness of the screen easily, so while the Nook Color doesn't have the E-Ink display of the non-color version, you can adjust how muck backlighting the eReader uses. Paging through books is easy, and you can navigate by either tapping or swiping.  You can also highlight certain text and either make notes for yourself, or share quotes through Twitter and Facebook. The Nook Color can also read PDF files and other documents, so chances are it will read most of what you throw at it.  I loaded a couple of comics onto the device, and despite some slowdown when reading large files, the PDFs displayed well.  I'd like to see the Adobe Reader app in the near future though, as it's just a better app than the PDF reader the Nook Color uses now.

On the "computing" side of the Nook Color, the browser is fine, and I had no trouble setting up my bookmarks for easy access.  I haven't loaded any of my videos onto it yet, so I'll update when I do. So far, the biggest plus I see over the tablets I tried is the virtual keyboard, which is well-spaced and easy to use.  Combined with the responsiveness of the touchscreen., there's a lot of potential for creating content with the Nook Color.  Right now however, there are no dedicated writing apps, or even a simple notepad, and the browser is not ideal for content creation.  I can return emails, or even make blog posts, but the lack of a visible cursor when editing text makes it nearly impossible to edit.  I actually wrote most of this blog entry on the Nook Color, but had to switch over to my laptop for editing and formatting.

There aren't many apps on the Nook color right now, just a few games and the Pandora music app.  However, B&N will be launching their app store in the next couple of months, and I am hoping that there will be some apps that improve the Nook Color's content creation ability.

So, I'm still playing with my new toy, but so far it seems like the Nook Color is a great device for consuming content (books, web browsing, email), that has the potential to be a solid tablet computer.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the platform evolves in the next few months.