Barnes & Noble e-reader rumored to be merging of Kindle, iPhone

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Book seller Barnes & Noble is expected to announce its own e-reader next week, and a new report states the device will sport both black-and-white e-ink and a multi-touch, iPhone-like color display.

New information and photos of the device were provided to Gizmodo, which revealed that a majority of the device will have a traditional e-ink display, much like the Amazon Kindle, which provides superior battery life. It will be a 6-inch screen with an 800x600 pixel resolution.

But the bottom portion of the device will have an LCD color display sporting multi-touch technology. It will be used to browse through and select books in a manner described to be like Apple's own coverflow. The second screen is 480x144 pixels with a 150dpi resolution.

"The choice of two different screens (and techs) on one device serves to overcome the shortcomings in e-ink, which lacks of richness and interactivity; and LCD's eyestrain and battery drain," the report said. "(The LCD will remain inactive while books are being read.) Contrast this with the Kindle which uses the e-ink display to emulate a slow menu system and requires a physical keyboard for searching. Likewise, Sony's e-ink readers with touchscreens layers have reduced visibility."

The purported hardware has only a handful of buttons for flipping pages, searching, purchasing books, and connecting to social networking sites. The new device is believed to have a lending feature that will allow friends to share books and post excerpts to sites like Facebook and Twitter. "But that may be cut before launch," Gizmodo said.

The alleged new Barnes & Noble reader. Credit Gizmodo.

Like the Amazon Kindle, the device is also expected to have connectivity with a cellular data network for the purchase and download of books on the go. The price is also expected to be less than that of the Kindle, with losses recouped through the sale of books.

The yet-unnamed device allegedly had an internal name that was reportedly "terrible," but may change before it is announced.

This week, Barnes & Noble invited members of the press to an Oct. 20 announcement in New York. In its invitation, the retailer touted that it will be "a major event in our company's history." Previously, rumors had persisted that the book store would be selling its own branded e-reader hardware, designed by Plastic Logic.

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Apple is rumored to be working on its own tablet device, which sources have told AppleInsider will debut in the first quarter of 2010. Recent reports have suggested Apple is looking to portray the device, at least in part, as an e-reader.

The hardware maker has allegedly contacted publications such as The New York Times and publishers like McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press about making their content available in an upcoming device. And a group led by Time Inc. hopes to create a digital store for magazines to allow them to sell their content on Apple's long-rumored tablet.