With the glut of e-book readers now on the market, Barnes & Noble’s Nook is easy to overlook—it’s not as ubiquitous as Amazon’s Kindle or as slick as Apple’s iPad. But the Nook has something that its competitors don’t: It runs on Google’s open-source Android platform, so you can hack it to add functions that go well beyond just displaying an e-ink version of War and Peace. Among other things, you can install the Pandora music service, news feeds and a Twitter application, all for free.
Like its more popular cousin the iPhone, the AppleTV is a beacon of simplicity in a category—set-top boxes that download and stream video from a computer or other device to your TV—crowded with wonky and complex options. Also like the iPhone, the AppleTV has its needless limitations: It plays video only in iTunes formats or from YouTube. No home movies or video (legally) downloaded from other sites are playable unless they’ve been specially converted.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.