updated 08:45 am EDT, Mon June 21, 2010
Nook Wi-Fi undercuts price to fight Kindle, iPad
Barnes & Noble quickly confirmed its plans for an entry-level e-reader today by rolling out the Nook Wi-Fi. The reader drops the built-in 3G but keeps Wi-Fi that can now get online at most any access point; AT&T is giving free access to its own public hotspots. The reader still has the six-inch e-paper display, 3.5-inch color touchscreen and all the other features, such as e-book lending, web browsing and the fledgling game and music Android apps.
The Nook Wi-Fi will cost much less than the first reader, reaching down to $149. It's available to order today and will ship this week. As a complement to the low-end Nook, the original Nook (now known as the Nook 3G) is dropping from its original $259 to $199. It still has free 3G.
In addition to the readers, Barnes & Noble is rolling out the 1.4 firmware update for both devices. Patching up adds the free AT&T access as well as a Go To Page feature that can jump to a particular page, an extremely large font for poor-sighted readers, and faster book load times. Nook owners can get it through a manual update today, but those willing to wait will get it automatically this week over Wi-Fi.
The Nook price drops represent a milestone for e-readers as it represents the first full 3G reader below $200, undermining the Amazon Kindle. It also distances the Nook much further from the iPad, which starts at $499 with Wi-Fi only but has often been considered close enough to its opponents that it drew away some customers.