It's no longer just the design of the two products that makes the Nook Color and Nook Tablet strikingly similar. Barnes & Noble, Inc., the maker of those two top-selling slates, announced a software upgrade for the $199 Nook Color - traditionally an eReader - that will offer new video streaming options, making the device resemble its tablet counterpart even more.
Available now through the B&N website as a download, the Nook Color 1.4 software update adds Netflix streaming and Flixster as available apps, as well as an improved interface that enhances reading on the device. An automatic download to NOOK color customers will roll out in the "coming weeks," according to the company's press release today.
“We are excited to offer our largest Nook Color software update ever that will bring access to movies, TV shows, hundreds of new apps, comics, graphic novels and more to our time-tested, critically acclaimed Reader’s Tablet,” said William Lynch, B&N chief executive officer, in the announcement.
Today's announcement suggests that Lynch may be putting a little more emphasis on the latter term, 'tablet,' as the update certainly focuses on expanding the multimedia options on the $199 device. Also included is the new Nook Comics collection, featuring Marvel series, as well as PagePerfect Nook books that offer high-quality versions of image-laden books like cookbooks and arts and crafts titles. The traditional reading experience isn't without upgrades either, as more elaborate options like landscape reading, pinch-to-zoom motions and varying text sizes have been added.
Barnes & Noble's Color, $50 cheaper than the $250 Nook Tablet, is the same price category as Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire, the media tablet which has been burning up headlines and climbing in sales. While the Color won't offer Hulu Plus as the Tablet does, the expanded capabilities will certainly broaden the audience looking for a $199 reading tablet.