New Nook Tablet Coming This Fall With a “Revolutionary Screen” – (Pixel Qi, Pixtronix, Who?)

David Carnoy of Cnet has a source who is claiming that Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Tablet, which is expected to ship this fall, is going to have a revolutionary new screen.

Now we’re getting word from a credible source that Barnes & Noble, a 7-inch pioneer with its Nook Color and Nook Tablet, is set to bring out out a new 7-inch model that features “revolutionary screen technology.”

The source, who’s proven reliable in the past, wouldn’t elaborate on the specifics of that technology but said that it was developed in-house by Barnes & Noble (with the help of “another company”) and had not been seen in another product before.

There are a number of possibilities for the new screen tech, but I’m not sure that any of them stand the chance of hitting the market this fall.

Pixel Qi, for example, has a new high resolution screen which matches the screen resolution of the new iPad, but given that it’s not even in production yet I don’t expect to see it this fall. Qualcomm could be putting forward a screen based on screen tech developed by the recently acquired Pixtronix, but I don’t have any info on that. There’s also a chance they might show off a Mirasol screen, but due to delays in building the factory I don’t expect that either.

If I had to guess, my bet for the most likely candidate would be Liquavista. Unfortunately they’re not supposed to hit mass production until next year.

In case it’s not clear, I’m stumped about the revolutionary new screen tech. While I can think of a few more examples, none of the truly revolutionary stuff is ready to go on a device.

At this point I’m wondering if the revolutionary aspect of the screen won’t be quite as revolutionary as CNet’s source claims. I’m betting that it will be more evolutionary than revolutionary. B&’s last new device was the Nook Glow, and its front light, as nice as it was, was only an improvement on existing implementations.

Then again, the Nook Tablet has a screen that, while not strictly revolutionary, is still better than the screen on other 7″ tablets – including ones that supposedly use the same AFFS+ screen tech. The Kindle Fire, for example, uses the same screen tech but has a worse quality screen.

There is always a chance that B&N managed to pull off another jump in screen quality.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. digital reader fan17 July, 2012

    The glowlight went to market pretty darn fast. I think they can pull it off this fall. Will be fun to see what happens.

  2. fjtorres17 July, 2012

    Revolutionary is in the eye of the marketting guru.
    With all the hype on LCD pixel density these days, they might simply be moving to a 7in full HD panel.

    What I find interesting is how much B&N is relying on hardware specmanship these days.
    Very Sony-like.
    Hopefully they’ll have better success competing against Kobo and Amazon, who are betting on software and services.

  3. Tyler17 July, 2012

    Isn’t Barnes and Noble beating Kobo?

    1. Nate Hoffelder17 July, 2012

      So is Apple.

    2. fjtorres17 July, 2012

      Better than Sony. Everybody is beating them. (Pretty much.)

      1. Ingo Lembcke18 July, 2012

        Which is a shame, Sony being in the E-Reader-Building- Bizz that long. While I look forward to the next Sony, the PRS-T2, I do not expect too much, but maybe they will surprise me (Glow, HD eInk, mobile connectivity, Jelly Bean and that all together).

        1. fjtorres18 July, 2012

          The problem is that the ebook reader business has become a “war” of ecosystems; hardware, software, catalog, network, services…
          Sony has for years focused most of their efforts on hardware, giving short-shrift to the other elements, often zigging when the market zags and vice-versa.
          After a while, the fell behind in too many areas to play catch-up in any of them.
          Amazon has routinely downplayed the hardware in their strategy so it seems B&N thinks playing it up might gain them something. Counter-programming, as it were.
          The good news it they’re not neglecting actual development of other areas, just hyping the hardware more.
          The bad news is their market share hasn’t budged in two years now. So hyping hardware doesn’t seem to be moving the needle for them, either.

          1. Nate Hoffelder18 July, 2012

            “The problem is that the ebook reader business has become a “war” of ecosystems; hardware, software, catalog, network, services”

            It didn’t use to be that way. Right up until the Kindle launched the ebook market was dominated by apps, not devices. And all those apps ran on mostly the same hardware, making it easier to coexist.

            Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Amazon had never launched the Kindle. My guess is that the iPhone would have launched the ebook reading revolution.

          2. fjtorres18 July, 2012

            Indeed, the few pre-Kindle readers were strictly hobbyist/enthusiast devices. A lot like the personal computer business Pre-IBM.
            But I’m not sure the iPhone would’ve done it–reading is still a secondary function on phones, just as on PDAs, laptops, and desktop PCs.
            As you say in the other article, Amazon made the publishers get serious about ebooks and one of the drivers there was that Kindle owners were dropping a decent chunk of change on a device that was *only* useful for reading ebooks. That kind of commitment broke the chicken-and-egg conundrum. (I also suspect that the hardware-based DRM convinced a few of the publishing paranoids.)

            1. Nate Hoffelder18 July, 2012

              The first killer app on the iPhone was Stanza, so I’m going to have to disagree with you there.

          3. fjtorres18 July, 2012

            And how much of an impact did Stanza have on the *publishing* industry?
            It was a great reading app but it had no impact on ebook availability.

            Now, iTunes was an app that had a *big* impact on content availability and it came *after* the iPod had been around for a while so its clear dedicated hardware alone doesn’t do it (although one can argue that the Rio MP3 player is what started the ball rolling in that arena.)

            The big explosion in content availability came *after* Kindle, not after Stanza. People bought Kindles to read and to *buy* ebooks. Once they did, Amazon had a captive *mainsteam* audience they could wave in front of the publishers to get them to provide content just as IBM (and MS) could point to the PC installed base to get software developers and corporate buyers to buy into *their* ecosystem.
            Gates called it a virtuous cycle; the bigger the installed base, the more valuable it becomes to content/app developers–the bigger the content/app catalog, the more valuable the platform to users.
            The question is always how to ramp up the initial user base.

            Its still relatively early in the game. There is plenty of change still to come.
            eBook ecosystems may very well move past dedicated hardware at some point–the industry might even move past the walled gardens if the publishers and authors can get over their paranoia–but for now dedicated readers are still an attractive proposition for avid readers.

            1. Nate Hoffelder18 July, 2012

              It could have had a greater effect if Amazon hadn’t stifled it.

              Picture this: It’s late 2007 and a stealth startup is working on an iPhone reading app. They meet with publishers and point out that Apple is selling a bajillion iPhones each month. This startup plans to tap into the potential market by having an app ready for when iTunes app store launches.

              In this scenario Amazon’s not making the Kindle, so publishers wouldn’t have anything else to get excited about. They would be excited about the iPhone and this app. The hype was high at that point.

          4. Rick23 July, 2012

            Just because their “Market Share hasn’t moved in two years” doesn’t mean they’re not doing extremely well – You forget that the “market share” is made up of a growing market. Apple is “loosing market share” in the tablet space – that doesn’t mean less people are buy iPads (quite the opposite, in fact). Apple’s sales are increasing but their market share is going down because there are a lot of other Android tablets out there (of course the only ones that are really selling are the Kindle Fire, the Nook, and, now, the Nexus 7). This is exactly why Apple doesn’t care about “market share” – they go by how much money they’re making.

            Anyway, the fact that their market share numbers aren’t rapidly dropping means that they keep selling more and more units – it’s a good thing. True, if they only care about market share, it seems like they have to do a lot just to tread water, but if you look at how much money Nook is making them and number of devices sold, then it’s a different picture.

            Having said that, Barnes and Noble is squandering it’s HUGE advantage by having a retail store. They need to tie the Nook back into the store – hopefully they’re going to start doing that with the near-field communication.

          5. Doug23 July, 2012

            Rick, I’m not clear on “look at how much money Nook is making them.” NOOK has been costing B&N an awful lot, wiping out all of the profits generated by B&N’s bookstore and college bookstore divisions and then some. From their recent 10-K filing: in fiscal 2011, B&N’s NOOK operations accounted for $695 million in sales and $230 million in operating losses. In fiscal 2012, the NOOK operations accounted for $933 million in sales and $286 million in operating losses.

            Yes, keeping the same market share in a rising market meant their dollar sales are up. But as for “making money”…


  4. digital reader fan17 July, 2012

    The question is… will they give Nate the news embargo this time 🙂

  5. […] stehen. Nicht umsonst meint angesichts solcher Vagheit nun E-Reading-Experte Nate Hoffelder von The Digital Reader, es gehe wohl vorerst nur um die Weiterentwicklung der bisherigen LCD-Displays – schließlich […]

  6. Peter18 July, 2012

    I’m thinking it must be either Pixel Qi or Mirasol.

    Barnes and Noble has a history of giving consumer’s technologies they’ve specifically requested, even if they aren’t who we wanted it from, it’s not as good as we’re imagining, and they can’t quite figure out how to make it work.

    Mirasol has to be number one on the “most wished for” list for ereader’s/tablet feature right now.

  7. Gary20 August, 2012

    It’s been a while since you posted this… heard anything new lately?

    1. Nate Hoffelder20 August, 2012

      I have heard elsewhere that the next device will still run Android underneath. But that’s all I know.

    2. Peter20 August, 2012

      Baring truly accidental leaks, I doubt we’ll hear any new product announcements from Barnes and Noble until after Judge Cote makes a ruling on the antitrust settlement later this month.

      At this point, it is simply creating way too much uncertainty.

  8. Joshua7 September, 2012

    When is it coming out?

    1. Nate Hoffelder7 September, 2012



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