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Amazon’s Kindle has been the king of the nascent, much-hyped, category of wireless e-readers since it came out in 2007. Now, numerous companies are determined to challenge the Kindle with dedicated, mass-market gadgets for reading digital books and periodicals. The latest, and potentially most important, of these is a contender called the Nook, produced by the giant bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), which started shipping it this week.
The two devices look very similar, but have key differences in capabilities, user interface and polish. Overall, after testing the Nook for about a week, I don’t think it’s as good as the Kindle, at least not yet. At launch, the Nook has the feel of a product with great potential that was rushed to market before it was fully ready.