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Barnes & Noble this week released an update to its Nook Color electronic book reader that essentially turns the device into a fully-fledged tablet. In addition to e-mail client and Internet browser, the gadget got Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system, application store and some other improvements.

Nook Color’s update to Android OS 2.2/Froyo offers system improvements, enhanced browser performance and a more complete Web experience giving customers access to enjoy more video, interactive and animated content. Additional enhancements include improved global search and quick settings such as battery indicator, shortcuts to settings and audio.

B&N also introduce a set of applications specifically designed for Nook Color's 7" (1024*600) screen. The set of apps includes Angry Birds, Uno and More Brain Exercise games, Pulse news-feed and My-Cast weather app. Barnes & Noble offers a selection of free Nook apps – including calendar and notes apps, requested by Nook Color customers – and paid apps, with approximately half of the collection available for $2.99 or less and the vast majority priced at $5.99 or less. The latest B&N's new electronic book reader comes with pre-installed Facebook, Twitter and email clients. Unfortunately, the device does not seem to support Android Market applications.

The Nook Color (NookColor) features 7" VividView touch-screen with 1024*600 resolution and IPS matrix that is similar to those used on notebooks. The e-book reader is based on Google Android 2.1 and features 8GB of internal flash memory, Wi-Fi network controller and so on. The device supports playback of MPEG4 video and MP3 music. The NookColor sports an SD card reader and its memory can be expanded with a 32GB SD card.

Nook supports viewing of various files, including those in PDF, ePub, JPG, PNG, GIF and BMP formats as well as comes pre-installed with Quickoffice software to view Microsoft Office files including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The device is relatively compact - 8.1"/20.57cm x 5"/12.7cm x 0.48"/1.2cm and weighs just 447gramms (15.8 ounces), which is below the weight of popular tablets, but is higher compared to the original Nook. Unfortunately NookColor does not have a long battery life: it is only claimed that it will last for about 8 hours with Wi-Fi disabled in reading mode.

Nook Color customers can experience all of the great new features in v1.2 immediately at no cost via manual download at www.nookcolor.com/update. A free over-the-air (OTA) update will begin rolling out to customers via Wi-Fi over the coming weeks.

NookColor is now available for $249 for pre-order at Barnes & Noble online and retail stores.

Tags: Barnes & Noble, Nook, NookColor, E-Book

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