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What does a Nook Color do?

The Nook Color is an eReader and tablet device released by Barnes & Noble in 2010. As an eReader, the Nook Color allows users to read eBooks, magazines, newspapers, and other digital content. As a tablet, the Nook Color provides additional functionality beyond reading, including apps, a web browser, email, and more. The key features and capabilities of the Nook Color are explored in more depth below.

eReader Capabilities

The Nook Color shines first and foremost as an eReader. It has a 7-inch color touchscreen display that makes reading books, magazines, comics, and more an immersive experience. Some key eReader highlights include:

  • Access to the Barnes & Noble eBookstore with over 2 million eBook titles, newspapers, and magazines
  • E Ink Pearl display for easy reading, even in direct sunlight
  • Adjustable text size, fonts, line spacing, etc for customized reading
  • Built-in library organization tools and social features
  • Long battery life – up to 8 hours of continuous reading
  • Expandable memory up to 32GB via microSD card
  • LendMe technology to share eBooks with friends

The Nook Color set the standard for color eReader displays when it first launched. The experience of reading books, magazines, comics and more pops off the screen with illustrations and photos vibrantly rendered. Adjustable brightness settings make reading comfortable in any lighting environment.

Tablet Features

In addition to being a top-notch eReader, the Nook Color was one of the first hybrid eReader-tablets on the market. It runs Android 2.2 and has a 1GHz processor, allowing for versatile functionality beyond just reading. Some key tablet features include:

  • Web browsing, email, and apps – access to popular apps through Barnes & Noble’s Nook Apps store
  • Wi-Fi connectivity for web, social media, and syncing
  • Music and video playback capabilities
  • Built-in mono speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Nook Friends – social networking for sharing comments about books
  • Games including chess, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and more
  • Calendar, contacts, alarm clock and other utility apps

With tablet capabilities like web browsing, email, apps, games, and multimedia playback, the Nook Color provides many options beyond reading. Users can seamlessly switch between reading a book and surfing the web or playing a game. The Nook Apps store has a wide range of apps optimized for the device’s 7-inch display.


Here is a rundown of the Nook Color’s technical hardware specifications:

  • 7-inch 1024 x 600 pixel color touchscreen display
  • E Ink Pearl display technology
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • MicroSD card slot for up to 32GB of expandable storage
  • Micro-USB port
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Built-in mono speaker
  • Ambient light sensor to auto-adjust screen brightness
  • Long-lasting battery – up to 8 hours reading time
  • Weighs 1 pound
  • Android 2.2 operating system
  • 1GHz TI OMAP 3621 processor
  • 512MB RAM

The hardware provides zippy performance whether you’re reading, web browsing, playing games, or listening to music. The E Ink Pearl display is designed for comfortable long-term reading sessions without eye strain.

Software and Apps

The Nook Color comes loaded with software and apps right out of the box:

  • Barnes & Noble eReading software – Provides access to Barnes & Noble eBookstore, digital library management, and reading tools.
  • Nook Apps – App store with a wide selection of apps optimized for Nook, focused on games, productivity, news, and more.
  • Email app
  • Web browser
  • Contacts/calendar
  • Pandora music streaming
  • Sudoku, chess and other games
  • Social media apps like Facebook and Twitter
  • Additional apps and media can be sideloaded as well if desired

With its flexible Android OS, you have many options for customizing your experience via apps and software on the Nook Color.

Reading Experience

As an eReader first and foremost, the Nook Color provides an excellent reading experience and access to Barnes & Noble’s expansive eBook catalog. Here’s an overview:

  • Crisp text with adjustable fonts/sizes/spacing
  • Bright and colorful E Ink display
  • Smooth paginating between pages
  • Highlight, annotate, and bookmark pages
  • Look up definitions for any word with built-in dictionary
  • Adjustable themes and day/night reading modes
  • Sync between devices so can pick up where you left off

Magazines and children’s books are enhanced by the vivid color screen. The Nook offers accessibility features like text-to-speech for audiobook-like functionality. Overall the reading experience lives up to the promise of what an eReader should be.

Battery Life

The Nook Color is optimized for long battery life, especially in reading mode. Here are the details on battery performance:

  • Up to 8 hours of reading time
  • Around 3-4 hours with continuous Wi-Fi web browsing
  • Video playback time around 5 hours
  • Music playback time about 15 hours
  • Can recharge via USB to computer or AC adapter

With such extensive runtimes for reading eBooks, you can go days or even weeks between charges when primarily using the Nook Color as an eReader. The long battery life is a huge perk for travelers or commuters who want to read for hours on end.

Content Options

The Nook Color provides access to a vast catalog of digital content via Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore. Here’s an overview of what you can access:

  • eBooks – Over 2 million eBook titles and counting across genres like fiction, non-fiction, classics, romance, mystery, sci-fi, comics, and more.
  • Newspapers & magazines – Leading magazines and national/local newspapers available for subscription or single issue purchase.
  • Apps – Wide range of Nook apps tailored for education, entertainment, productivity, games, and more.
  • Catalogs – Browse interactive catalogs for inspiration and shopping.
  • Kids books – Picture books, chapter books, and leveled readers for children.
  • Indie books – Collection of titles from independent authors and smaller publishers.

Whether you enjoy bestsellers, classics, niche topics, or pretty much any other genre – you’ll find plenty to read on the Nook Color.


The Nook Color originally retailed for $249 when it launched in 2010. Here is how the pricing breaks down:

  • Wi-Fi only model – $249
  • Supported microSD cards up to 32GB for expanded capacity
  • Average price of bestseller eBooks – $10 or less
  • Daily/monthly subscriptions available for newspapers & magazines
  • Nook apps generally range from free up to a few dollars

For a full-featured color eReader and tablet in one device, the Nook Color provides excellent value and capabilities. With access to Barnes & Noble’s massive eBook library, you can build a robust digital reading collection for very little relative cost.

Reviews and Reception

The Nook Color was well received upon launch for seamlessly blending an eReader with tablet functionality. Here are some excerpts from professional reviews:

Engadget “It’s a complete pleasure to read on.”
Wired “This is no mere color e-reader, it’s a promising precursor to a more connected reading device.”
NY Times “A reader you can live with and probably have a torrid romance with…”
CNET “With the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble bests its previous efforts and brings us closer than ever to the convergence of books and tablets.”

Beyond experts, user reviews were also overwhelmingly positive with praise for the high-quality display, performance, intuitive software, and huge catalog of digital content. Common downsides mentioned were the modest battery life for functions beyond reading and lack of built-in 3G connectivity. But the pros seemed to far outweigh the cons for most.


In closing, the Nook Color stands out as a pioneering device that bridged eReaders and tablets. The bright color touchscreen, long battery life, extensive eBook catalog, Android apps, and more made it a versatile, affordable option for reading fanatics. It remains a great, budget-friendly alternative to E Ink readers or LCD tablets to this day for those seeking a device optimized for reading. The Nook Color still has a loyal following over a decade later for all it can do at such a reasonable price point.