Tag Archives: Target

The Nook Color Review

This holiday season many readers are going to decide whether to purchase either an Amazon Kindle Fire for $199.00 or a Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet for $249.00.  But there’s another option, which is to buy a Nook Color e-reader for the newly discounted price of $199.00 (at sellers like Target, Wall-Mart and Staples, in addition to Barnes & Noble).   Since I’ve owned a Nook Color device for a few weeks, I decided to write-up my impressions – for what they’re worth – here.   Maybe my experience will assist someone who is attempting to make an informed decision about the pluses and minuses of owning this 7″ tablet, with a small “t”.

With any reading device the strongest impression is going to come from the quality of the viewing screen.   The screen on the Nook Color, made by LG, is bright, sharp and offers great depth when viewing color scenes.   The depth is so noticeable that it seems to be a 3-D type of effect, and will be greatly appreciated by avid photographers.   When it comes to devices smaller than the now almost standard 10.1-inch tablets, the Nook Color’s screen is second in quality only to the Samsung Galaxy Tab in the 8.9″ Goldilocks-sized version.   Buying the Samsung involves spending $449 to $549.   So, the high quality viewing experience on the Nook Color is literally a bargain.

I’m not able to read books on a PC because of eye strain issues, but eye strain has not been a problem with the Nook Color.   This may be because the screen has been treated with an anti-glare solution, or because it is remarkably easy to adjust the brightness at any time to compensate for a change in lighting conditions.

The web browser on the Nook Color is very, very fast – and definitely faster than when one’s browsing pages on a netbook, low-priced laptop or an antiquated BlackBerry “smart phone” made by RIM.   If you have an opportunity to test a Nook Color, try calling up a Wikipedia page on almost any subject and you’ll see that it loads wickedly fast.   Of course, since the Nook Color is a Wi-Fi only device, actual speeds will vary depending on the capacity of your home wireless network.

I tested the public Wi-Fi feature in a restaurant in downtown Oakland, CA where the system required a log-in password, and it worked effortlessly and flawlessly.   And, of course, you can use the Nook Color in any Barnes & Noble store, where the device automatically connects to the bookseller’s network.   Downloading a book that you’ve ordered from the Barnes & Noble shop takes just seconds (and always less than 10 seconds), and you can read a sample preview of almost any book that’s offered for sale.   With the bestseller Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, the free sample is an excerpt of the first 118 pages!

If the Nook Color trips on occasion, it’s when it comes to memory.   In theory, you can stop reading a book at any point and return to it hours or days later and the device will remember the last page you were on.   However, in practice, this only works about 75 percent of the time…  The more hours/days that you put the Nook Color down, the less likely it is to remember where you were last.   The device is also supposed to let you select a home page of your own, but even after following the very specific directions needed to set your personal home page, the Nook Color will periodically forget your selection and open with the staid Barnes & Noble page.   Sigh.

Battery life seems to be fine while you’re reading or surfing the web, but if you let the device run down to 5% or so of its remaining power, you’ll be sad to find out that it will take a full three hours to recharge it fully.   Three hours seems like an eternity now when the best smartphones can recharge in less than half an hour.

The build quality on the Nook Color seems to be admirable, and it’s a small device with some heft.   On the flip side, it often feels a bit too heavy when one’s spending a good period of time holding it while reading.   The new Nook Tablet is 1.7 ounces lighter, which seems like a positive development.

If the Nook Color were a book rather than a technological device, I’d rate it on the borderline between Well Recommended and Highly Recommended.   As a practical e-reader and web surfing machine, it gets the job done 98% of the time, and the price is just right at $199.00.   But today, for an extra $50.00, you can have a Nook Tablet that’s lighter, faster (with a dual-core rather than single core processor), and has a longer-lasting battery.   All that’s needed now is for some boy or girl genius to develop a turbo-boosted charger for the Nooks that will recharge them in 20 minutes instead of 3 hours!

Joseph Arellano

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A Not-So-Blue Christmas

We can’t mandate happiness on the calendar…  and yet…  we try to do it anyway.   We strive to be merry and joyful.

I’m not a big fan of holiday stories so I approached this trade paperback with some trepidation.   As I walked through Target one day, the cute cover caught my eye and I noticed that the author, Sandra Harper, is a USC graduate.   Ok…   I didn’t buy it that day but I finally gave in to temptation on my next trip to Borders.

Let’s just say that this book was not as bad as I feared it would be (holiday theme and all), but not as good as I hoped it might be.   Still, it’s an easy and relaxing read and if you’re going to read a story about Christmas, why not do so in December?   Oh, and it has a great subtitle:  “It’s all relatives…”

Over the Holidays deals with three women:  the usually happily married Vanessa who faces temptation in the form of a young playwright, her artist sister Thea, and sister-in-law Patience.   It seems that each year Vanessa and her all-too-dependable spouse visit the uptight, if extroverted, Patience in the Boston area for the holidays, but this year many factors combine – including economic hardships – to change the typical plans.   Thus it turns out that Patience, her husband and their soon-to-leave-for-college daughter (U.C. Santa Cruz or USC?) travel to Los Angeles to celebrate the holidays at Vanessa’s.

Part of the fun of the story is seeing how the visitors from the east react to a Christmas in a city where many simply don’t celebrate it, at least not in traditional ways.   Patience’s brood is like a trio of aliens who’ve landed in the overly sunny and warm climate of L.A.   Then there’s the fact that Vanessa and Patience have completely different perspectives on holidays:  “I’m just not great in the holiday department…  I’m better at everyday life…” says Vanessa.   To this, Patience replies, “I’m definitely a holiday person, I like to look forward to things.   Special days.   It keeps me going.”

There’s a good deal of humor in Holidays, although it’s covered up with more than a touch of sadness.   (“Why do we pretend things are different than they really are?”)   And while it’s a fun read, it starts off quite slowly, not really moving along until the reader has hit page 80 out of 325.   There are also far too many long conversations used to tell the story, to the point where it reads like a court transcript.   Pick up the book at Target, for example, and read page 66 – it’s just people talking back and forth to each other and all in quotes.

There are also too many characters for the average reader to follow without difficulty, and a few too many crude moments/scenes (and overly adult language) that could have been left out.   But in the end, the characters learn to accept what they already have and not to mistake paradise for that home on down the road.   Yes, they learn to love what they already have; at least once they’ve reached the month of January.   As Vanessa concludes:  “I love January, so blissfully free of holidays…”   Exclamation point.

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Coming Up Next…

A review of Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper.   “It’s all relatives…”

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