A NOOK Review!

Yes, I finally have an ereading gadget to review–the nook!

The nook really wasn’t on my ereader radar until they came out with the less-expensive wifi version a few weeks ago. At that point, I was eyeing the Borders Kobo. But Borders made a critical error–they failed to install Kobo kiosks in their stores so would-be customers could try it out. Or rather, the kiosks were there–but only with Sony Readers and flyers for the Kobo. I know lots of people bought the Kobo over the internet, but I’m just not that trusting. I wanted to try the device for myself before buying.

Barnes & Noble did not make this mistake.

Armed with a recommendation by Liz Fichera, I went in the B&N store and there it was–a lovely kiosk with an entire row of actual nooks to play with, along with a friendly and enthusiastic salesperson. I left the store that day with my nook along with a lovely green protective folder. To my delighted surprise, the wifi version was much lighter than the 3g samples they had on display, which for me, is quite the perk.

The Display

We buy ereaders for their paper-like display, and I must say I love the display. The first time I saw e-ink, I actually mistook it for a cardboard covering over the screen–right up until I  saw something blink. Words cannot do it justice. It looks like paper–right until the page turns. Then, you have this ugly chaos of black flashes–if black can ever be said to flash–until the next page resolves on the screen. I’m told that this is a limitation of e-ink and we’re just going to have to live with it until they improve the technology.

The text is very easy on the eyes, and each line is nicely spaced apart. You can have the text anywhere from absurdly huge to absurdly small. And the resolution on the absurdly small font is absurdly good–no sign of pixellation unless I take off my glasses, hold the nook in front of my eyes, and peer at the top of an e or an o. And even then, I can only see an extremely faint hint of fuzz if I strain my eyes. And since I can see microprint on a five-dollar bill without my glasses (one of the few benefits of being extremely nearsighted), then it’s safe to say that you won’t see any pixellation whatsoever.

There are only six buttons. Four identical buttons on either side turn the pages back and forth. A button on the top of the nook turns the display on and off (where you get a screensaver that displays continuously). The sixth button isn’t really a button–it’s a touch zone to fire up the touchpad.

The Touchpad

One of the features of the nook is there is a separate color touchscreen display. And here is where I have my harshest critique. The color touchscreen display is rather shoddy. The resolution isn’t great and the screen’s reaction to your touch has a noticeable delay. Seriously, my ancient Palm Treo 755p has a better touchpad. It’s obviously an area where the manufacturers decided to save a little money. Had I spent the original price for the 3g nook, I might have been a bit more miffed about this than I am. It’s servicable, but not much else can be said about the quality of the touchpad. Let’s hope it’s durable.

One thing I do like about having a touchpad rather than a bunch of buttons is that it makes the nook greatly expandable. The interface is not limited by buttons. Barnes & Noble has already added features to the nook such as a web browser, which would never be your browser of choice, but gets the job done in an inventive way.

In-Store Features

B&N has tried very hard to make nook ownership quite clubby. If you go to the store with your nook, you can read books for free for up to an hour. And, you always have free access to AT&T wifi hotspots. I also currently have a coupon to bring my nook in and settle down in a corner of the coffee shop with some free coffee. Too bad I don’t drink coffee. There is also a free ebook featured every week. I guess they were worried that if you had ebooks, you would never feel the need to walk into the store. Even with all these club features, I think this is a valid concern.

The Experience

I read Liz Fichera’s Captive Spirit on my nook, and it was a very satisfactory reading experience. And not just because it was such a good book! I used medium sized text and was not having to turn the pages too often. It was cool to be able to close my book folder, leave it lying on a table somewhere, and to come back a few minutes later to find it waiting for me without having timed out. The default time-out before it goes to the screen saver is 10 minutes, which was quite reasonable.

One thing I have not found is free public domain books, except for three that come preinstalled (kind of–you still need a B&N account to open and read them). Kobo comes installed with 100 free classics, and you can download a bunch of them at the Stanza store with the Stanza iPhone software. I should think B&N would provide some free classics as well.

I was delighted with how it displayed pdfs. Jennifer Estep sent along her e-ARC for Venom, and I promptly loaded it into my nook. The text flows beautifully and the only way you know it is anything other than an epub is occasionally you have a page that is not filled all the way with text. Which considering how badly my iPod mangled pdfs, makes me happy.

I have only charged the batteries one time since I purchased it on Friday the 2nd. It wasn’t fully discharged when I bought it and I had to discharge it (through use) before I could charge it up to 100 percent.

I highly recommend getting a folder for it. I have a folder for my iPod touch as well, and such folders protect these devices very well. I have included a picture of the folder I selected.

I love my nook and I’m so glad I waited before getting it. If you’re looking for an ebook reader, I truly think it’s the best deal out there.

9 Thoughts to “A NOOK Review!”

  1. Interesting review. I know every time I go into my local B&N, there’s always someone demonstrating the nook right up front when you walk in the door. I wonder if the nook/kindle will be what separates B&N and Amazon from BAM and Borders.

    And I’m glad the nook opened the PDF okay for you. I know I’ve gotten some emails from reviewers on various devices that have a hard time getting the PDFs to look the way they want them to.

  2. Yeah, I found out about the nook’s wi-fi abilities just a few days ago. Really wish the Sony Reader had that. Aren’t e-readers just great, though? Whoever would have thought? As technology advances more and more, I feel like my life is a sci-fi TV show.

  3. SMD

    Well, thanks for this review. That helps me with deciding on an eReader. The Nook has that pdf ability, which, to me, is very important indeed.

    So, I’m putting it on my list.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I also looked at a pdf that was a mixture of text and graphics, and it didn’t work nearly as well. But it did handle the flowing of text in Jennifer’s book quite well. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the way the publisher formatted it or not.

  4. Deborah Blake

    This is very interesting. I’m not sure I’ll ever want to replace paper books with ebooks, but I like knowing what the options are.
    I have two questions. First (and I know this is nosy, but it does make a difference), would you be willing to tell us what the nook cost?
    (And why I keep thinking “nookie” and snickering, whenever I see the name…)
    And second, is there any editing ability? I’m thinking I’d like to have an ebook reader if I could load my CP’s mss onto it and take editing notes. That way I wouldn’t have to read on my laptop (which I don’t like to do), or print the entire thing out and then scribble on it.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      It was 149, and the cover was 29.

      I can’t help you with your nookie problem. 🙂

      You can highlight an area of text and type in some notes. But then you’d have to deal with the delay on the touchpad. It isn’t awful because each key lights up when you touch it, so you at least know you touched the right key. But it’s not the ideal typing experience. If you want that, I’d go for the Kindle. (I feel like such a betrayer!) Also, I believe Kindle handles Word documents.

      I enjoy editing on my laptop. I have a lap desk with a pillow on the bottom, and a trackball mouse. I lay in my lazyboy, put the trackball on the arm of the chair and have the laptop in my lap. So I no longer sit at my desk. I lounge!

  5. JenM

    I’m not familiar with the Nook because I own a Kindle but as far as free books are concerned, there are various sites that offer free books on the web. For books in the public domain, I usually use manybooks.net, but there is also project gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org and probably other sites that I don’t use. Baen’s website also apparently has a bunch of free books available although I’ve never tried it since I don’t read much SF. All of these sites will normally have the books available in a variety of formats. You choose the book you want, pick the format you want depending on what your device will accept, and the book downloads to your computer. It’s pretty painless, even for a technophobe like me. Smashwords is also great for free reads in a wide variety of genres.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I’ve actually known about Project Gutenberg forever, but I’m just being lazy here. I wonder if the built-in web-browser would let me download ebooks from other sites directly into the book library on my nook? I don’t see why not, but I haven’t tried it yet.

      Thanks for the list of sites!

  6. Another thing worth mentioning is the battery and the battery life for a nook. With the Kindle, assuming you use it regularly, it lasts about 2 years. But since it’s enclosed, you have to have it replaced by Amazon. My question about that was, “Who do I send it to and what is the cost?” I never got an answer. And I still have no clue who I would send it to for repairs. Maybe someone on this thread does.

    With the nook, a replacement battery costs about $30 and I can replace it myself when the time comes. On the other hand, who knows how the e-readers will evolve in two years, when I, presumably, need my new battery. An unknown at this point.

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