In case you were wondering what’s powering Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Color (or NOOKcolor, as they’d have us write it) e-reader, wonder no longer. It’s an e-book platform introduced by Texas Instruments at CES, with an ARM Cortex A8 processor at its center. There are some superficial similarities to the A4 system used by Apple, but really, the processor line is the only for-sure overlap. We also don’t know the megahertz count of the chip just yet.
The OMAP3621 platform is well-documented on TI’s site, though, and the capabilities seem in line with other tablets (yes, friends, it’s a tablet; things don’t become e-readers just because we’re told they are so). 3G support is there, but obviously absent in the Nook Color, and it isn’t clear which of the other features B&N will eventually be making use of.
Our brief hands-on didn’t really bump into the limitations of the tablet too much. The main limitations, one might say, have been deliberately put in place by Barnes & Noble in order to focus the product. Personally, I don’t find the device compelling, but it is competitive with other products out right now, though I find none of them compelling, either. I just think we’re looking at a whole class of early Android tablets that are going to be forgotten as soon as the actually tablet-oriented stuff comes along.