In recent months, there has been a massive explosion in e-reader technologies on the market. There’s the very popular Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, several Sony Reader versions, and the upcoming Apple iPad. After doing some research, we decided to get our hands on the Nook to see how the Android technology lends itself to the e-reader market.
Although the Nook has been out for around 4 months, we waited to get one until they were readily available in stores. When the nook first hit the market on November 30, 2009, they were only available online, which created a massive backlog of orders. Since we waited, we were simply able to go to the mall and pick one up for $259 at our local Barnes and Noble. But, we were disappointed that there now seems to be a shortage of cases and lights, both online and in stores.
Now it’s been said that an Engineering Degree was required to open the Nook packaging, but it really wasn’t that bad. People have even made YouTube videos on how to free your Nook! The box is supposed to slip off, but it takes some good strength to get it off. Once we rescued the Nook, we immediately tried to turn it on. Amazingly, it still had a charge.
The Nook is pretty lightweight and is about the same size of a large hardback book. The E ink electronic paper display is VERy impressive. It really does look just like a page out of a book! It is incredibly sharp, easy to read, and doesn’t strain the eyes. When you first look at the buttons used to turn the pages, it can be a little confusing, but once you start using itand holding it like a real book, it becomes clear why they put the directional buttons where they did.
Being a tech nerd, it was pretty easy to figure out the basics like navigation and settings. It is fairly easy to changes things like wallpaper, screensavers, etc. using the 3.5-inch touchscreen display. But, the touchscreen is a bit slow and clumsy at times. It’s easy to touch the wrong option and have to sit and wait for it to open. It was kind of a pain to add a wireless network as well. The nook kept magically erasing the remembered network it had previously connected to successfully. But, after about 30 minutes of frustration, it decided to keep the settings and will now connect successfully anytime I need it.
Buying books was a breeze. It was very easy to setup a Barnes and Noble account on their website, then going to the nook and registering it to your new account. My only complaint here is it would be nice if there was an easier way to change which payment method is used on transactions. We have two accounts, but the Nook can only be registered to one. So if I want to buy a book without using Solidus’ account, it’s easiest for me to login to B & N on my computer, buy a book, and download it to my PC. Then I can transfer it to the Nook. That takes the ease of purchasing directly from the Nook out of play for me since we would like to keep our purchases separate. Couldn’t they allow the original account holder an option to allow or approve another B & N account to register the Nook as well? I know copyright issues are at play, but if you use a different payment method NOW on the Nook, when you open a book, it will ask you what card was used to originally purchase the book, so any copyright issues can be avoided. Just a thought there. It’s really nice that you can also search for free books from the Nook. Hint: run a search using the term “0.00″ without the quotes, and it will return all the books that don’t have a purchase price. Simple!
Reading is a wonderful experience so far. My eyes are already usually pretty tired from looking at a computer screen all day long, and I was happy that the Nook doesn’t add to that. I’m not a huge reader because it has a tendency of making me sleepy, VERY sleepy. So far, I haven’t had that problem with the Nook. I actually have to force myself to put it down and go to bed. Turning pages could be faster, but since the latest Android update, it doesn’t seem that far off from other e-readers. I really enjoy the swipe scrolling instead of using the buttons. You can either swipe the 3.5-inch touchscreen, or the easiest way is to swipe the little N logo just above the touchscreen. Pretty nifty when you have the Nook sitting on your lap. The Nook can also hold around 1,500 books, so we won’t run out of space anytime soon. But, there is an expandable memory slot that can be used to create more space. The slot is located behind the back cover of the Nook, and I don’t want to risk disassembling my Nook just yet so we will stick with what we have for now.
Overall our experience with the Nook and Android has been a good one. It does feel like something is missing, although we can’t quite put our finger on it. Part of the reason we chose the Nook was because it is a new OS that still has some kinks, but we are incredibly hopeful that some good features for Android, and the Nook, are not that far off because the OS is so new. The software is completely expandable, there is no limits on what Android can do. I also like that I’m not stuck in a proprietary file format like on the Kindle. The Nook uses the EPUB format, which is quickly becoming the e-reader universal format. I can easily put purchases onto a different e-reader in the future if I need to, or when I go to upgrade.
Overall, we give the Nook an 7.5 out of 10.
Some tech specs on the Nook:
- 7.7 inches high x 4.9 wide
- 12.1 ounces
- E ink display
- 3.5 inch color touchscreen LCD
- adjustable font size
- free 3G via AT&T
- Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
- 2GB memory (1500 books)
- Expandable microSD slot
- MP3 player
- built-in speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack
For more details on the Nook, please visit Barnes and Noble.