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Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader Teardown

30 November 2012
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

IHS Insight Perspective

Simple book reading devices with electro-phoretic displays, still have their niche in the market - for those who frankly primarily want to read books or basic newsprint - the EPD display technology is great for extending battery life (extremely low power), and of course, read most like a book. Barnes & Noble have worked with an ODM partner to create a new E Ink (EPD) based book - the "Simple" which competes with the basic Amazon Kindle reader - at the small end of the black and white "reader" end of the spectrum. The new "edge" that this device has over most E Ink-style book readers we have looked at is the "glow light", or internal light source that allows reader to read in the dark without having to snap a lamp onto the device. Sony was the first vendor to offer a product of this type, the PRS-700, but reviewers generally indicate the Nook product is a more successful implementation, with better light uniformity across the screen area.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Device View 1Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Device View 1
Overall Significance


The design is basic by tablet standards, but Barnes & Nobles goal here is simply to compete competently with Amazon and keep their business model relevant. The latter is not going well so far.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Main PCB TopBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Main PCB Top
Feature Significance

This is a basic 6 inch diagonal black and white E Ink-based book reader. The main standout feature for this Simple Touch is the "glow light" feature which is a internal light source that overcomes the one problem most E-Ink based designs have: you still need a light source to read them in the dark. This device - as expected does not feature a lot of horsepower in the single core OMAP (usually for this type of reader the content is so static, dual and quad-core processors are not needed) - and just 2GB of NAND flash. It has a 5.66Wh battery - which provides 1 month of reading with the lightsource on - that amazing considering how backlights in conventional LCDs are a major current drain. The Simple Touch NNRV350 also has WiFi and a built in microSD slot for more memory capacity.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Main PCB BottomBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Main PCB Bottom
Design Significance

The hardware itself is unimpressive and is not pushing any technology envelopes. It has a rather old OMAP3xxx series processor at it's core - the backlit, 6 inch diagonal E Ink display. This is a very basic book reader design - and is not trying to push any envelopes on style or functionality. The key feature is the glow light.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Display ModuleBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Display Module
Target Market

Mass market

Consumer product designed for mass appeal - but is obviously best suited for avid readers, students and for those that may need to access large libraries of printed information (legal information, technical manuals, etc.).

Released

Q2 2012

Exact date not found - release approximate.

Pricing and Availability

$139 USD - Retail

Though it competes with the Kindle touch (at $99) - the Nook simple requests a $40 premium, ostensibly for the GlowLight feature.

US

Availability is in the US as that is where Barnes and Noble has all of their stores.

Volume Estimations

750,000 Total Units
2 Total Years

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed an Annual Production Volume of 750000 units and a Product Lifetime Volume of 2 year(s).

Teardown volume and production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

Cost Notes

The previous Barnes & Noble Nook we tore down was built by Foxconn in China. Typically this presumes a very competitive cost structure - however for this project - many of the key components are likely sold at a slight premium for this project as overall volumes are low and unpromising, and typically many of the component suppliers are selling at low to no margin to mega-products like Apple iPads, or even the Kindle Fire - but on products like this one - those manufacturers tend to make up for lost ground on margin. This has been factored on key components, but for commodity products - the kind that Foxconn can manage and has incredible buying power - we have assumed tier 1 pricing.

Total BOM: $84.96
Top Cost Drivers below: $66.52
% of Total BOM 78%


Main Cost Drivers below

$27.21 - E Ink ED060SC7 Display Module - 6" Diagonal, Electrophoretic (EPD), 16-Level Greyscale, 600 x 800 pixels, 123.0mm x 91.0mm Active Area, w/ 8 Backlight LED & Integral Flex PCBs- (Qty: 1)
$10.1 - Texas Instruments OMAP3621 Applications Processor - OMAP, ARM Cortex-A8 Core, 2D/3D Graphics Accelerator, IVA 2+ Hardware Accelerator, Integrated Image Signal Processor, 45nm- (Qty: 1)
$7.49 - Prime Power Technology S11ND018A Battery Pack - Li-Ion Polymer, 1-Cell, 3.7V, 1530mAh, 5.66Wh, w/ Power Management Circuit, Integrated 6 Discrete Wires, 1 6-Position Pin Socket Connector, Heat Shrink Tubing, Blue Mylar Insulators & Aluminized Mylar Label- (Qty: 1)
$6.89 - Jorjin WG7310-2A WLAN Module - IEEE802.11b/g/n, Contains Texas Instruments WL1270B WLAN Single Chip Solution- (Qty: 1)
$3.7 - Samsung KLM2G1HE3F-B001 Flash - eMMC NAND, 2GB, MLC- (Qty: 1)
$3.25 - Samsung K4X2G323PC-8GD8 SDRAM - Mobile DDR, 2Gb, 1.8V- (Qty: 1)
$2.68 - 4-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free- (Qty: 1)
$2.34 - Enclosure, Main, Bottom - Injection Molded ABS Polycarbonate, Printed, w/ Rubberized Coating- (Qty: 1)
$1.44 - Texas Instruments TPS65921BZQZ Power Management IC - w/ Integrated USB Transceiver, 3 Step-Down Converters, 4 220mA LDO, USB1.3 OTG Compliant- (Qty: 1)
$1.42 - Texas Instruments TPS65181RGZR Power Management IC - 2 Boost DC-DC Converters, 2 Adjustable LDOs, 120mA/Channel, w/ Thermistor Monitoring, for E Ink Displays- (Qty: 1)

Not Included in Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

We do provide an Excel tab "Overall Costs" where a user can enter their known pre and post production costs to build a per unit cost reflective of theirs actual expenditures.

Manufacturing Notes

Previous B&N book readers torn down by IHS iSuppli were made by Foxconn in China - it is most likely the same is the case here. Foxconn / Honhai is the world's largest contract manufacturer - and a key supplier to Apple as they actually produce many if not most of Apple's products.

Per IHS iSuppli's Electronic Manufacturing Services research area: Foxconn, the largest entity in the Hon Hai Group, headquartered in Taiwan was founded by Terry Guo in 1974 as a maker of plastics and components for the electronics industry. Foxconn is the largest outsourced manufacturing service provider with 2011 revenues in excess of US$116 billion and the company employs nearly 1.2 million people on a worldwide basis . Foxconn builds products primarily in the communications, computing and consumer electronics industry for most of the largest brands in the global electronics industry including Apple, Cisco, DELL, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nintendo, Nokia and Sony.

Country of Origin

For the purposes of this analysis, we are assuming the following country(ies) of origin for each level of assembly, based on a combination of "Made In" markings, and/or assumptions based on our knowledge of such equipment.

Box Contents - China
Display - China
Main PCB - China
Other - Enclosures / Final Assembly - China

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of finished" sub-assemblies (such as WiFi modules or disk drives), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. Auto inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design Complexity

Component counts by assembly and the number of assembly are indicators of design complexity and efficiency.

Component Qty: 546 - Main PCB
Component Qty: 25 - Display
Component Qty: 30 - Other - Enclosures / Final Assembly
Component Qty: 9 - Box Contents
Component Qty: 610 - Grand Total

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box ContentsBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box Contents


At 611 components the "Simple Touch" reader is quite basic - but interestingly has more components than the more functional Kindle Fire - which is a little surprising given the very basic functionality of this device - but there are few solutions dedicated to this niche market (in terms of ICs) that would give these designs a leap in simplicity (system on chip dedicated for book readers).

Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box ContentsBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box Contents

Design Notes

The core of this device is the now-quite-old TI OMAP3 series OMAP3621 processor - which is a single core apps processor (ARM Cortex-A8 Core, 2D/3D Graphics Accelerator, IVA 2+ Hardware Accelerator, Integrated Image Signal Processor). Most of the new power tablets now feature quad-core processors which are far more powerful (an unnecessary power in book readers like this).

The display, of course is key, and this EPD display is from E Ink (6" Diagonal, Electrophoretic (EPD), 16-Level Greyscale, 600 x 800 pixels, 123.0mm x 91.0mm Active Area, w/ 8 Backlight LED & Integral Flex PCBs). The lightsource is an integral part of the display from E Ink - and is of course the standout feature of this reader.

Otherwise - the rest of the design is rather ho-hum - and features 2GB of NAND Flash, a Texas Instruments WL1270B WiFi chip (Single Chip, IEEE802.11b/g/n, MAC/Baseband Processor/Radio), Texas Instruments power management chips - and well, in fact most of the rest of the design relies very heavily on TI solutions. This may be a reference design offered up by TI to potential eReader designers.


Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box ContentsBarnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight (BNRV350) e-Reader - Box Contents



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