Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color eReader is a fan favorite, not only because it’s great for reading, but also because with a little hackery it becomes a surprisingly decent Android tablet. A new report from Taiwan today indicates that Barnes and Noble has a sequel in the works, and that it could hit stores shelves as early as this month, potentially before Amazon’s own big unveiling.
Details about the new reader are sparse, but Digitimes reports that it retain the original’s 7-inch screen size. Hardware vendors are already lined up and ready to ship components: TPK Holdings is reportedly responsible for for supplying the device’s touch panels, while Inventec will handle the assembly process.
Interestingly, Digitimes also fingers E Ink as providing e-paper backplates for the Nook Color 2, which seems highly suspect. It may well be among the first mass-market devices to offer a color e-paper display, but it seems doubtful if only for one reason: it would probably kill the Nook Color 2’s tablet potential.
Getting your choice of custom Android ROM onto a Nook Color is fairly trivial these days, and has certainly driven Nook Color purchases among the geekier crowd. They become infinitely more useful in the process — my favorite Korean restaurant uses one as a menu for first-timers — and a color e-paper display could put that all at risk. Battery life among other things would probably improve, but it could otherwise stymie certain owners of the original from buying a new model.
For now, the true nature of the Nook Color 2’s display (and the rest of its specs) will remain a mystery, but hopefully it won’t be long before it makes its official debut.