Former PC World Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken seems to like the new Barnes and Noble “nook” (lower case is B&N’s preference)…
The small color touchscreen navigation area seems to be the highlight. The ability to loan a book also seems to a high point (and has been one of my criticisms of the Kindle).
Although both the Amazon Kindle and the B&N nook use AT&T’s 3G network, the nook has the advantage of being about to use a WiFi connection too. This would be important for me since AT&T doesn’t have any 3G signal in my home. And, it would seem silly to have to walk 25 feet outside just to find a 3G signal to buy an ebook. The nook also has an SD slot to provide more storage space. The nook’s removeable battery is another plus in my opinion. Unlike the Kindle, the nook does not have the ability to play audio books (FYI: Amazon owns Audible.com). But, that doesn’t seem like a big issue to me. However, the nook’s inability to provide text-to-speech will knock if off the lists of people with visual impairments.
My belief is that these differences are interesting and important to potential customers but won’t matter within two years. I think dedicated ebook readers will be a niche product by then used only by heavy readers. The rest of us casual readers who only read a couple of books per year will migrate to more general purpose devices like touch screen netbooks and smartphones.