Review: nook Color, a pleasant surprise.
Jan 27, 2011 at 7:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

oddity

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[New to reviewing, please be gentle! 
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When I received a nook Color as a christmas present this year I was expecting to get a great e-reader with some tablet-PC-like benefits. What I was not expecting was that I would get a good portable media player and great internet radio, too!
 
First, some details on the limitations of the nook. The nook is only capable of playing lossy file formats such as MP3 and AAC. This may change when Barnes & Noble opens the nook app store, possibly offering applications that allow you to play higher quality formats (whenever that may be). It also requires a WI-FI network to stream music from the Pandora application that comes preloaded with the nook, as it does not have 3G connectivity.  
 
On to the review itself...
 
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Sound Quality:
 
I really wasn't expecting much from the nook the first time I plugged my Grado SR-60i's into the 3.5mm TRS jack on the top of the nook. But as the music started to pay I realized, that even without an amp, the music sounded really good! The nook's audio software/circuitry presents a very flat frequency response. The highs, while not exactly lush, are free of grain and other unpleasant colorations. The midrange is fairly warm throughout, with no glaring audio artifacts that I could discern. It is in the bass range where the nook falls a little short. From mid-bass to lower-bass the response gets a bit thin and underpowered. It always seems as if the lowest registers are just a bit out of reach for it.
 
It also lacks a bit in the width department when it comes to sound staging, but does alright depth wise.
 
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As a media player:
 
The nook has two ways of delivering music to you; the first being a proprietary media interface, and the other being a Pandora internet radio application.
 
The media player interface is pretty simple. You can navigate through your loaded music (loaded via USB to the nook's Music File or SD card) via the touch screen interface. It has the usual options found on a media player, pause/play/skip, as well as several options for sorting through and organizing your library. It also has a search function for song/album/artist. The nook does not have any kind of EQ or other audio anything other than volume control.
 
The interface is very intuitive, figuring out how to navigate it takes less than thirty seconds. Like I mentioned earlier the nook currently only plays MP3 and AAC files. This may or may not change when the nook app store finally opens. If nothing becomes available the user always has the option to jailbreak the nook and download audio apps from the android market if they so choose.
 
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As an internet radio:
 
Where the nook really shines is in its Pandora application. If you are not using Pandora you are really missing out, as Pandora offers CD quality music for free and 24bit/192khz streaming for paying subscribers. The quality of music that comes out of nook while listening to Pandora is markedly better than the media player program. The mid-range opens up, the treble gets sweeter, and the bass finally gets to be satisfying. The sound stage, however, stays roughly the same.
 
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Over all I have found the nook to be a great piece of gear. Magazines, books, and music all in a ~US$250 package. If you are a bibliophile in addition to being an audiophile, the nook Color is very much worth the money.
 
Jan 27, 2011 at 8:03 PM Post #2 of 5

estreeter

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Even though my old ears probably cant tell the difference between 320K VBR and lossless on most of my music, I still have to question whether any device which offers zero support for lossless audio can be considered an 'audiophile' player. Even mere 'music lovers' like myself want FLAC/ALAC or, at a pinch, support for WAV. 
 
Quote:
The nook is only capable of playing lossy file formats such as MP3 and AAC.  

 
Jan 31, 2011 at 1:50 AM Post #3 of 5

Woody469

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A quick search of the internet (because I've never heard of nookcolor) shows this player to be more of a book (or should I say periodicals) reader. I think it's price (249.00) reflects it's wi fi capabilities, large screen and gadget oriented nature and not necessarily it's "music making capabilities" At any rate, great job reviewing it oddity.
 
Apr 8, 2011 at 9:03 PM Post #5 of 5

Logistics

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The choice to not play lossless files probably has to do with the players storage media.  The iPod had a one-up on a lot of other manufacturers players because it's memory was fast enough to allow for playing WAV's and the like.  I'm not sure what the nook has, but that is likely the culprit.

 
 

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