Which Tablet?

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color is more than an e-reader



While the Apple iPad ($499 and up) is the market-leading tablet, my IT clients are often surprised that I use Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color E-Reader ($249). I don’t view the Nook Color (or any tablet) as a replacement for my X61 notebook. They are good complements, however.


Tablets are ideal for reading, email, product demonstrations, presentations, note taking, and Web browsing in a lightweight, ultraportable package. By contrast, notebooks are superior productivity tools.

The Nook Color can be classified as a tablet because it has general purpose computing capabilities. It has a single thin, light case with an enclosed touchscreen.

I bought the device because I wanted to read digital versions of books, newspapers and magazines when I’m in the field. At half the price of the iPad, I felt the Nook Color would meet my needs.

Nook Color Advantages

I soon learned that the Nook offers many additional advantages, including:

  • Access to Exchange e-mail.  I use Touchdown from Nitrodesk to access my business e-mail when I have a WiFi wireless connection available.  When I don’t, I use my Droid Pro smartphone or my laptop on a cellular data connection.
  • Note taking. Evernote, the popular note taking software, has a free Nook Color version. Evernote is my favorite note-taking program.  I sync hundreds of notes across my Droid Pro, my X61, and my Nook Color. No matter which device I’m using, my notes are up to date. (Visit: www.evernote.com)
  • Opens Adobe PDF files.  Some authors distribute self-published books in PDF files which I can read on my Nook Color. Likewise, I can use it to show clients product literature, specifications, and pricing information which I transfer to the Nook using the USB charging cable or through an optional MicroSD flash card.

  • Reads and edits Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  Documents-to-Go from DataViz or QuickOffice are two programs that can do this.  Documents-to-Go is available on the iPad, too.

  • Web-browsing capability for quick Web searches and light browsing.

  • Adobe Flash and YouTube video support. I can view animations and movies on Web pages.  Training guides and product demonstrations are often done in Adobe Flash. (iPad doesn’t have Flash support.)

More Advantages

I used to tote many books and magazines to keep up with my reading while traveling. Now I have dozens of books downloaded to my Nook. I can also read technical publications and newspapers – and in color, too.

In client meetings, I type notes into Evernote using the Nook’s virtual keyboard, then sync to the Cloud once I’ve connected to a WiFi. (The Nook Color does not offer a cellular wireless option; the iPad does). I prefer to do heavy note editing on my X61, but can add and edit notes as needed on my Color Nook and Droid. Thanks to the syncing feature, all my notes are always up-to-date on all three devices.

iPad and Notebook Advantages

The iPad has advantages that justify its price: a cellular wireless option, camera, and a smoother, more polished feel. Still, I like the smaller size, lower weight (and cost!) of the Nook. I don’t miss having a camera because I can readily transfer pictures from my X61 to it.

I rely on my X61 for my productivity tasks, including remote client sessions over the Internet, my Quicken and Quickbooks financial work, document and check scanning, instruction preparations using screen capture software, proposal writing and other tasks.

What’s Next?

Notebook and laptop sales have sagged. It’s not surprising. A tablet suffices for people who mainly do email and Web browsing. But most of us use the right tool for the right job. Since I can synchronize mail and notes between my notebook, smartphone, and tablet, I use the one that fits the situation. The data is always the same..

What’s in the future? I think tablets will add phone capabilities, encroaching on smartphone territory, while expanding their computing horsepower and flexibility, thus taking on notebook functions.  The day may come when I can put my notebook and smartphone aside and just carry a tablet.  We’re not there yet. Stay tuned.

About the author

David Streit

David Streit is an IT consultant and an entrepreneur, as principal of Stephill Associates, LLC. in Manalapan, New Jersey. Stephill provides IT infrastructure and technology advisory services for small business clients in New Jersey and New York City. Streit has worked with PCs and technology for more than 25 years.  He and his wife, Claudia, have two daughters, Hillary and Stephanie. 
Stephill Associates website.