Barnes & Noble has confirmed its intention of releasing an entry-level e-reader by rolling out a Wi-Fi Nook device. The new reader keeps the Wi-Fi while dropping the built-in 3G. Thanks to the Wi-Fi connection the reader can get online by using almost any access point. Free access is offered by AT&T in its public hotspots. The e-reader keeps the six-inch e-paper screen, 3.5-inch color touchscreen as well as all the other characteristics. Among them, web browsing, e-book lending and music and game Android applications.
The price of the Nook Wi-Fi is much less than that of Barnes & Noble’s first e-reader and is going down to $149. The reader is already available and can ship very quickly. As an addition to the low-end e-reader, the original device, also named Nook 3G, will cost $199 instead of $259, and will still have 3G free.
Barnes & Noble is also rolling out the new 1.4 firmware update addressed to both devices. The patches are adding free AT&T access and a so-called Go To Page new feature that allows jumping to a particular page. It also brings a larger font to help the poor-sighted persons and shorter book load times. The owners of the Nook can get the firmware update manually or automatically through Wi-Fi.
Barnes & Noble has set the price drop of the Nook 3G as a milestone as this makes it the first device of the kind with a price below $200, which is countermining Amazon’s Kindle. The recent move also puts a larger distance between the Nook and the iPad, the latter starting at a price of $499 with connection through Wi-Fi only but being considered not far enough to prevent drawing away customers from its opponents.