Barnes & Noble's update to the original Nook e-reader marries touchscreen features with the latest e-ink technology.
FORTUNE — Just seven months after it announced its Android-based Nook Color tablet, Barnes and Noble BKS unveiled a major hardware update to the original e-ink-based Nook e-reader that cuts down on bulk, weight, and physical buttons.
Available for pre-order immediately and shipping on or around June 10 for $139, the new WiFi-only Nook measures 5 inches by 6.5 inches, weighs under 7.5 ounces (35% lighter than the Nook first edition), and sports a 6-inch touchscreen that marries infrared technology with a Pearl e-ink display to let user navigate with taps and swipes.
“The Nook Color has been a home run, but there’s also a number of people who don’t need all those features,” said Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch at the event in the bookseller’s Union Square, New York City location.
Powered by Android 2.1, the Nook will include 2 gigabytes of onboard storage allowing for 1,000 downloaded books and an SD card slot for additional storage, and run on an 800 MHZ Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor which the company says enables a much smoother reading experience, including quicker page transitions and 80% less “ghosting,” or page flashing. It also will last two months between charges.
At the launch event, Lynch took direct aim at its nearest competitor, the Kindle, comparing features like battery life — the Kindle 3 features one month of battery life compared with the new Nook’s two — and the number of physical buttons.
“The Kindle 3 has 38 buttons, 37 more than the all-new Nook,” Lynch said wryly. “Anyone who has mobile devices with [a lot] of buttons and nav bars knows that means a lot of scrolling and a lot of interface. . . with the all the new Nook, you just get into the device.”
To that end, the new Nook software interface highlights a homescreen with three panels: a “Reading Now” area that displays what book users are currently reading and the number pages of left, “New Reads,” and “What to Read Next,” a social-focused section that displays what friends are reading. With less physical buttons to deal with and the new homescreen, Barnes & Noble says, users will be a few taps or swipes away from anything they want.