If you haven't heard Barnes & Noble announced its new touch-enabled Nook this morning, and of course, we sprinted to the back of the room to get our hands on the 6-inch ereader. Hit the break for pictures and impressions.
Form factor: The first thing anyone will notice about this ereader is how compact it is in comparison to the Kindle or even the first generation Nook. Sure, the Kindle also has a 6-inch display, but the 7.48-ounce Nook just feels insanely light in hand and the contoured, rubberized back really makes it comfortable to hold. I think it is best described as cute, but its matte black design is far from sissy. It is slightly thicker than the Kindle, though, at .47 inches (the Kindle 3 is .335 inches thick, the DX is .38 inches). Still, that's nothing that at all bothered me in-hand.
While the device is primarily touchscreen, there's a physical power button on the back and a Nook menu button under the display. Flanking the screen are rubberish vertical page turn buttons -- apparently you can decide to power these on in the Settings menu. There doesn't appear to be a headphone jack, but there is a micro-USB cable for charging.
EInk / Touchscreen: I'm about to go back and try the IR touchscreen again, but my first impression is that it's very responsive. I was able to get through the Terms & Conditions menus with light taps. The responsiveness seems on par with the new Sony e-readers, which makes sense since Sony is using similar IR technology.
Update: Oddly, Barnes & Noble won't actually let us touch the devices now, but the video below shows some of the performance.
As for the actual EInk Pearl display, that 80 percent less flashing claim seems on point -- as you will see in the video, turns really do seem faster. Obviously, transitions between menus and keyboard input is slower than on an LCD, but you can't read that Nook Color or iPad outdoors, now can you?
Software: Yes, the new Nook is still built on top of Android 2.1, but you really wouldn't know it was Google's software underneath. It has a similar UI to both the Nook Color and the original B&N ereader. We did get a brief demo of the social features, which at the very least, seem to give this basic device some advanced functions.
Check out the video below and stay tuned for a full review sometime around its June 11th launch.