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Nook Color

The biggest surprise is that the price stays at a low $249. Don’t expect it to be a full-featured Android tablet though, Barnes & Noble has stated that is more like an e-reader with some additional tablet functionality. However it does have Wi-Fi (802.11n) and 8GB of storage, plus built-in integration for Facebook and Twitter. So it is primarily an e-reader, with web browsing and video playback being secondary.

The Nook Color is slightly less than half an inch thick, weighs just 15.6 ounces, and has a 7-inch IPS-panel touch screen running at 1024×600. Not much room to fit a hefty battery, but according to Barnes & Noble, it will give you 8 hours reading time without running out of juice, provided that you turn Wi-Fi off. This could be a problem for app development, but they have announced that Pandora will be shipping with it so I guess streaming music over the internet is not much of a problem.

Because it has a color touch screen, Barnes & Noble demonstrated full-color magazines, newspapers, and a new collection of “Nook Kids” books for children. They are clearly setting up for an interesting position in the e-reader market. By avoiding a complete feature comparison to the iPad they can have a low price color tablet capable of doing much more than the older e-ink model. It might not impress people who want an iPad, but for the casual e-reader user it might raise a brow, and with the Nook Developer program it might grow to be much more.

Barnes & Noble will ship the Nook Color on November 19 and pre-orders are available starting today. The original Nook will continue to be sold for $149, if you are still looking for an e-ink based reader. Check out the hands-on pictures and video of the Nook Color over at Engadget and CrunchGear.