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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I Learned Today: the Nook, Taco Bell, and Google

I have a few quick things to say about some experiences I had today (one of them was actually from earlier in the week, but it was too small to devote a post to).

First -- The Nook
I had the opportunity to fiddle with Barnes and Noble's Nook today while I was running errands. I have a few impressions:

The Good
--It's exceptionally light (about the weight of an average trade paperback), making for a reading experience that doesn't break your wrist.
--It looks lovely. The design is fantastic, though I would prefer it came in different colors.
--Text actually looks good on the screen. It's readable, easily changeable to other fonts or sizes, and I can see myself reading from such a machine at some point in the future without losing the reading experience. Immersion is possible.
--The touchscreen and buttons are pretty easy to figure out without reading a manual (I had it down in about a minute).

The Bad
--It's not as fast as it should be. This criticism is something many others have said about the Nook and other eReaders, and is probably simply a problem with e-ink technology that will have to be overcome in the next few years. I do know B&N is planning to upgrade the software for the Nook, which should alleviate some of the sluggishness. I should clarify that when I say slow, I mean it has a very slight, but noticeable lag when turning pages. If you're the kind of person who often flips back and forth between pages (like me), it might be irritating. For anyone who tends to read "simpler" texts, it likely won't be a problem.
--It still costs more than I'm willing to spend for a product that isn't quite as good as it could be. At $259 it's still one of the cheapest and best eReaders out there, but I find it hard to justify spending that kind of money for something that has less computing power than one of those mini laptops.

Overall, it has potential (and B&N is far less evil than Amazon has been in the last year), but they've still got a long way to go.

Second -- Taco Bell
Apparently Taco Bell has been running a series of health ads on television in the same vein as those Subway commercials we're all familiar with (you know, the ones with the guy who lost weight eating Subway and what not). The reasons are clear enough: they want to sell food (particularly their "healthy" food).

I'm actually surprised by this, because when I first saw the commercials some time ago, I thought they were a joke. I laughed and thought, "I have to give Taco Bell props for turning a somewhat goofy, but appealing story into a joke for the purposes of selling food that induces cardiac arrest." But, then it came to my attention that the woman in the commercials is real, and so is her story. Am I the only one that has a hard time taking the whole thing seriously? I can't stop myself from laughing at what seems to be an outright mockery of everything Subway has stood for over the last decade. But that's me.

Third -- Google Smacks China
I heard the news from Tobias S. Buckell and the first thing I thought was: "Way to go, Google." You can't ignore the rampant institutionalization of Orwellian-style politics in communist China, from their desperate desire to control information to their disturbing thought police who patrol the Interwebs in search of anti-Communist bloggers and the like in order to incarcerate them indefinitely. And now Google is saying, "Yeah, we've kind of had it, jackasses." Okay, so they're not really saying that (they'll likely play the whole thing fairly safely, if not a-politically), but they might as well be.

And that's all I have for today. Thoughts?

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