Nook Simple surpasses Kindle for the first time in Consumer Report rankings

by Morgan Phelps

Even without all the bells and whistles of the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble (BKS) managed to scrape by Amazon (AMZN) in Consumer Reports’ rankings of e-readers for the first time with its all new Nook Simple Touch Reader. The bookstore’s latest black-and-white e-reader, which is the first e-ink-based reader to feature the Google (GOOG) Android 2.1 operating system, scored just one point higher than the most recent edition of the Kindle and a few points higher than other models.

Updating from previous versions that operated on Android 1.5, the new reader features additional flexibility in “rooting” or adding alternative apps and games for advanced users. The newest version of the Android operating system for the Book offers the support required to run modern day games and applications, even Angry Birds, although it has frame-rate issues, according to the blog Good E-Reader.

The newest B&N device also offers a web browser, which is only available through the search button. This feature was quietly introduced, and is accessible if you type the proper website address in the search field. The device also offers a touchscreen that the Kindle does not, as well as smoother page turns and minimized flashing, according to B&N.

Consumer Reports said the Nook Simple, which is also being called “The All-New Nook,” matches or is modestly better than the Kindle in nearly every aspect of performance, including battery life. Instead of attempting to be a tablet as it did with the original Nook and the Nook Color, B&N brought the new Nook Simple back to the roots of the e-reader, with a focus on reading with fewer extra features. The publication noted that Kindle has the potential to reclaim its top spot with upcoming firmware updates.

Although the Nook Color has given B&N a chance to compete in the tablet space, it took going back to the black-and-white basics of e-reader technology, with a few additional features thanks to an updated Android operating system, for the bookstore to edge out Amazon’s pioneer product.