B&N and Microsoft events, new Kobo reader and more Amazon tablet rumors

We're playing a bit of a waiting game this morning. Barnes & Noble has an event in a couple of hours (10 am ET) during which some kind of new Nook will be unveiled. I'm not sure anyone (other than Barnes & Noble itself) knows exactly what to expect; whether it's a new touch-screen e-ink model, or a replacement for the NookColor. Blogger groupthink seems to be coming down on the side of the former, though.

Then a little later in the day, Microsoft will be doing a preview of "Mango," the next version of Windows Phone 7. Steve Ballmer promises over 500 new features, according to Engadget, who also says the event is going to be all about the software, with no new hardware introduced. I want to like Windows Phone 7; maybe Mango will do the trick for me.

While we wait for all the fun let's do a quick recap of a couple of other e-reader/tablet news blurbs. First, Kobo beat Barnes & Noble to the punch when it introduced a new e-reader yesterday. The Kobo eReader Touch Edition will retail for $129.99 and the old Kobo reader drops to $99.99. Rather than using the capacitive touch-screens found in most touch devices these days, the eReader Touch uses Neonode's zForce infrared touch tech, which means you can flip pages with a gloved finger or the end of a pencil, if you choose (a plain old finger will still work, too). This is a small e-reader, with a 6" screen so it can fit in your back pocket (if you're anything like me, that's going to lead to a sat-on e-reader in short order).

Let's finish up with some more Amazon tablet rumors. I talked a little bit about the "Coyote" and "Hollywood" tablets last week. Now Tim Bajarin at PCMag claims to have sources that tell him the 7" Coyote (with a Tegra 2 dual core chipset) will be just $349 and the 10" Hollywood, with Nvidia's new quad-core Tegra 3 (code-named Kal-El) will be just $449! He also reiterates the 2nd half of 2011 release date that I doubted when Boy Genius Report first mentioned it. Maybe it's for real. If Amazon can put a quality 10" quad-core Android tablet on the market this year for less than $500, it's going to really shake up the tablet landscape (which is pretty much the main pint of Bajarin's article, but I can't help but breathlessly agree with him; this is a rumor that has me really excited). Hey, maybe that's even enough horsepower to run Flash nicely.

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