Overview / Main Features
Barnes and Noble's Nook Color eReader is, in many sense, an Android tablet in disguise as an eReader and it represents a shift in eReader design as the first significant redesign of the eReader in a post-Apple iPad marketplace. Like its predecessor, the original BN Nook e-Ink eReader, the Nook Color runs a modified version of Google's Android operating system and, as the OS kernel version would indicate, that is most similar to v2.1. However, only limited applications designed for the Nook Color runs on this device. However, the inclusion of a full-blown mobile OS allows the Nook Color to be a very nimble eReader serving up anything from books with animations to games to full color magazine subscriptions and even streaming music.
What is most significant on the Nook Color is indeed its 7-inch IPS TFT display. Previous models only had a small secondary color display while the primary eBook reader section is e-Ink based. Designers at Barnes and Noble definitely re-acted to the Apple iPad when they redesigned the Nook Color for release in late 2010. They invested in a high quality IPS (wide viewing angle) 7 inch color display and multi-touch capacitive touch overlay.
Inside, the Nook Color resembles that of a smartphone with a TI OMAP processor, WiFi / Bluetooth, 8GB of internal storage with provisions for 32GB more via microSD slot expansion.
The device is said to provide up to 8 hours of operations from the 4000mAh Li-Ion Polymer internal battery.
However, a notable exclusion is a M2M module for 3G connectivity. This was likely left out before the device went on the market in order to meet the retail cost requirements of the hyper-competitive eBook reader market based on evidence we found on the main PCB (see Design Notes).
Pricing - The Barnes and Noble Nook Color retails for $249.
Availability - North America
For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a lifetime production volume of approximately 500K units.
As a reminder, teardown volume 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.
Main Cost Drivers ~90% of Total Materials Cost
LG Display - LD070WS1-SL02 - Display Module Value Line Item - 7' Diagonal, 16.7M Color IPS TFT, 1024 x 600 Pixels, 20 LEDs Backlight
Xiamen Litup Optical Technology Co., Ltd. - TCM70A17-V0.1 - Touchscreen - 7', Capacitive, 2-Layer Glass, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB, Laminated to Display Module
SanDisk - SDIN4C1-8G - Flash - iNAND, 8GB, MLC
Texas Instruments - OMAP3621 - Applications Processor - OMAP, ARM Cortex-A8 Core, 2D/3D Graphics Accelerator, IVA 2+ Hardware Accelerator, Integrated Image Signal Processor, 45nm
Hynix - H8MBX00U0MER-06M - SDRAM - Mobile DDR, 4Gb
Battery - Li-Ion Polymer, 3.7V, 4000mAh, w/ 5 Discrete Insulated Wires, 5-Position Pin Socket Connector
Foxconn - 8-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free
Murata - LBWA19XSLZ - WLAN Module - Contains Texas Instruments WL1270B, IEEE802.11b/g/n
BNRP5-1900 - AC to USB Adapter - 5V, 1.9A
Cypress Semiconductor - CY8CTMA340-48LQI-01 - Touchscreen Controller - Capacitive Multitouch
Enclosure, Main, Center - Stamped / Formed Stainless Steel, Painted, 6-Piece, 50 Spot Welded Points, w/ Insert-Molded Plastic
Box - Corrugated Cardboard, Full Color, Printed. w/ Neodymium Magnets & RFID Label
Texas Instruments - TPS65921BZQZ - Power Management IC - w/ Integrated USB Transceiver, 3 Step-Down Converters, 4 220mA LDO, USB1.3 OTG Compliant
Direct Materials + Manufacturing $199.85
What Is Not Included in our Cost 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.
OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing
Based on markings on the main PCB, we understand this device to be manufactured by Foxconn (Hon Hai).
Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions
Based on device markings, we've based our analysis with the final assembly in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced in 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 display), 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.
Remember also that 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 for Manufacturing / Device Complexity
The Nook Color eReader Tablet has an overall component count of 547 (excluding box contents), of which, 449 pieces resides on the Main PCB. In comparison, the original Nook eReader has an overall component count of 729 if we discount the 3G module to make the comparison more valid.
Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.
Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.
The design of the Nook Color reminds us very much of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-Inch Android tablet (without the cellular modem, of course). The Nook Color is a purpose built device for viewing more multimedia rich content. By that design criteria, Barnes and Noble has leverage the Google Android platform very well in using only components it needed to fill the needs of the product type.
The top cost driver in the Nook Color is the IPS display. At 7-inches, it is the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Tab but with the enhancement of wider viewing angles which is a benefit of the IPS technology.
Internally, the Nook Color is quite a bit more simpler than the direct comparison of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. There is obviously no 3G radio to speak of - however, we did note a large un-populated landing pad for quite possible a M2M module. Perhaps the engineers have designed for that possibility but removed it once they knew they could not produce the eReader under the target retail price with 3G connectivity.
Without the 3G module, the Nook Color relies instead on WiFi connectivity and removable media of the microSD card. Murata provides the packaging of the TI 802.11 b/g/n IC.
In fact, the overall design of the Nook Color relies heavily on TI components from the core TI OMAP 3621 applications processor to the WL 1270B WiFi chip to the TI power management IC as well as the TI Flatlink transmitter part (for display driving).
Another interesting addition to the Nook Color is the Kionix 3-axis accelerometer for use in detecting screen rotation and in gaming functionalities.
Here is a summary of the major components used in the Barnes and Noble Nook Color design:
Display / Touchscreen
- Display Module - 7' Diagonal, 16.7M Color IPS TFT, 1024 x 600 Pixels, 20 LEDs Backlight
- Touchscreen - 7', Capacitive, 2-Layer Glass, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB, Laminated to Display Module
- Flash - SanDisk - SDIN4C1-8G, iNAND, 8GB, MLC
- SDRAM - Hynix - H8MBX00U0MER-06M, Mobile DDR, 4Gb
- Applications Processor - Texas Instruments - OMAP3621
- WLAN Module - Murata - LBWA19XSLZ, Contains Texas Instruments WL1270B, IEEE802.11b/g/n
- Transmit Module - TriQuint Semiconductor - TQM679002, WLAN/Bluetooth, 2.4GHz, w/ Integrated PAM, Filter & SP3T Switch
- Power Management IC - Texas Instruments - TPS65921BZQZ
I/O & Interface
- Flatlink Transmitter - Texas Instruments - SN75LVDS83BZQLR
- Accelerometer & Inclinometer - Kionix - KXTF9 Series
Barnes and Noble Nook Color eReader - Box Contents