In May 2011, Barnes and Noble released a redesigned Nook e-book reader. The new Nook is thinner and lighter than its predecessor–the Nook 1st edition. It has a 6″ touchscreen, 2GB of built-in storage, Wi-Fi connectivity, and can run up to two months on a full battery charge.

The 2011 Nook supports EPUB, PDF, Adobe DRM e-book formats and can read JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP graphic files. It weighs 7.48 ounces and measures 6.5″ (H) x 5″ (W) x 0.47″ (D). But, it lacks audio support, 3G, or a Web browser.

This week, I took a look inside the 2011 Nook and couldn’t wait to see how the new device’s hardware compared to the Nook 1st edition and more-recent Nook Color. After cracking open the new Nook, I have my answer. I also discovered several interesting facts about the new e-book reader, such as the battery can be replaced.

As of this writing, the 2011 Nook has a suggested retail price of $139 (US). You can still purchase the Nook 1st edition for $119 (Wi-Fi) and $169 (Wi-Fi + 3G) and the Nook Color for $249.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the 2011 Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader (Wi-Fi)

Cracking Open analysis:

Please note that opening the back cover of your NOOK to change the battery, external SD card or back cover will void this Limited Warranty, except to the extent that such opening is done through a customer-accessible opening and in accordance with the instructions provided with the NOOK.

  • Same processor as the Nook Color: Both devices use the ARM Cortex A8-based Texas Instruments OMAP3621 applications processor. I hope this means we’ll be able to hack the new Nook to run Android apps, as you can the Nook Color.
  • Unique touchscreen solution: Instead of the capacitive or resistive technologies found in most tablets, smartphones, and e-book readers (like Nook Color), the 2011 Nook uses Neonode’s zForce touchscreen system. From what I’ve read, their system uses a series of emitters and receivers (likely IR) to create a grid across the display screen. As you move your finger, or any object, through the grid, the zForce system detects the object’s location and movement. This gives the Nook a touch-sensitive display without requiring a glass or plastic overlay above the screen.

Internal hardware and chips:

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.