Nate Hoffelder had quite a scoop on The Digital Reader yesterday. He reports receiving official-looking material from an anonymous source indicating that Barnes & Noble will be launching three e-readers next quarter, not just two.

The three readers will include a $139 “Smart Touch” touchscreen e-ink model, and two new Nook Color tablets priced at $249 (referred to as “Encore”) and $349 (listed as “Acclaim”). Hoffelder points out that Smart Touch and Encore are the product names B&N is using for the touchscreen e-ink and 7” Nook Color models now, so “Acclaim” probably represents something new.

Hoffelder thinks that, since the Acclaim name is recognizable as the name of a defunct video game company (I well remember playing Acclaim carts on my NES) and the trademark is now owned by a subsidiary of B&N content partner Disney, that means the Acclaim is going to be gaming focused, may be the tablet device that Gamestop has announced plans to bring out, and could feature content from Disney.

On the other hand, I think it’s just as likely and possibly more so that given the price point, Acclaim might be B&N’s run at the larger, 9” or 10” tablet market—competing more directly with the iPad and the Galaxy Tab now that B&N has shown its stuff with a smaller-sized unit, not to mention getting its larger color tablet out before Amazon can produce one of its own.

Of course, it could very well be a dessert topping and a floor wax—a 9-or-10-incher that has a lot of gaming content. And indeed, for B&N to get such a tablet into Gamestop would effectively “sneak e-reading in the back door” as people buy a gaming device and then find out how good it is at reading e-books too.

I wonder, given the timing of this leak less than a week before Amazon’s big press conference, whether it might be intentional to put pressure on the company? It also makes me curious whether we might get an official announcement a day or so before the conference as B&N tries to steal Amazon’s thunder.

Keep an eye out, it could be an exciting next few days.


  1. “competing more directly with the iPad and the Galaxy Tab”

    I would suggest to you two things:

    a) Putting the Galaxy Tab in the same sentence as the iPad is a joke. It is barely selling and blocked in many markets. It is just another Android device and is therefore miles behind in usability.

    b) Technology costs money. A device at $200 – $350 has no chance of performing anything like an iPad. And games need power. So gaming on these devices is destined to be second rate.

    If the new Kindle is coming out at even lower than this price point then the nonsense being talked about in the media hype about being a competitor to the iPad will also be destined to the trash can of history.

  2. First, to directly address the article, I think Nate leaped a little far in his conclusions. One of the “new” Nook Color is the Encore, the name of the existing device. When have you heard of a company using the same code name for a new product? At most, they’ll probably release a cost-reduced Nook Color (which may mean better battery life). The e-Ink device mentioned also exists already.

    So that leaves the Acclaim, and I bet for the extra $100 and extra year of development it will be fairly impressive. I don’t discount the rumors that it will be a gaming tablet (possibly in association with Gamestop), but the Acclaim/Disney link is far-fetched.

    Second, and I know I shouldn’t say anything, but what are you talking about Howard? I assume you own both an iPad and a Galaxy Tab? Can you point us to an article or offer some words as to why we shouldn’t consider an Android device? Especially for books, the higher pixel density, back button, and ease of loading ePub files would all seem to significant advantages.

    I really like my Nook Color, and running “real” Android is even better. Compared to my iPod Touch (which isn’t quite fair), it’s just another grid of icons with a strong development community. In addition, it has better inter-app functionality, settings are in one place rather than two, widgets are great, application organization is better, support for SD cards, file copying, and, I really love the back button.

    But I don’t own an iPad. Maybe I am missing something.

  3. I’ve used Android a number of times and it sucks compared with iOS.

    An eReader with Android and other apps is overkill for eReading. While eReading is great on a powerful tablet, it is never going to be bought AS an eReader by anyone with a brain. A dedicated eReader at a fraction of the price is perfectly sufficient.

  4. I hope you won’t mind my belaboring the point a bit, but “sucks” doesn’t help me give recommendations to friends. What exactly didn’t work for you?

    And I agree that a tablet is overkill. However, as the prices of tablets come down, and the functionality of eReaders increases, I think the trend toward customers buying more general-purpose devices will continue.

  5. Logan – I guess that is because I wasn’t intending to write a helpful review. Android is like an early version of iOS that was never finished. Clunky interface, especially the universal inbox, inconsistent logic on location of functions, wide open app store with a wide variety of quality and inconsistent security. Far to many breaches of security access to user data over the last couple of years. The iOS is just like smooth silky velvet in comparison. Simple, functional, logical, accessible, secure, and all managed through iTunes. Perfect. There will always be people who resent the ‘popular’ simply for it’s popularity – hence android users. For people with sense and a reasonable income, the iPhone is the only choice imho.

    I agree with what you say about more general purpose devices but eReading is a very specialist area, and I suspect that long into the future there will be a huge market for single purpose eReaders at the bottom of the market.

  6. As an iPad and a Nook Color owner, I can say that I prefer using the NC to read, because of its size and superior portability, its ease of use in multiple display formats (icon screen, library, folder tree), its easy-to-use ePub reader, multiple serviceable PDF readers available, and the fact that I don’t have to use clunky iTunes to move files around. Not everyone believes the Sun rises and sets in Steve Jobs’ pants, and there are plenty of us who like other devices and interfaces just fine.

    (Dismissing Android as something “Apple haters use” is ignoring the fact that we’re not all pressed out of the same mold. Like what you like, and stop berating others for not agreeing with your likes.)

    I’m content to wait and see what B&N comes up with, but I’m already happy enough reading books and magazines on my NC that it doesn’t matter much to me.

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