Barnes & Noble nook eBook Reader Review

bn-nook-fpThe era of the eBook reader is now upon us. Two years ago the Sony PRS-500 eBook Reader came out to little attention. At that time, a lot of people said that eBooks would never catch on. When Amazon released their first generation Kindle, people showed more interest, but not enough to contradict the eBook naysayers. A year and a half later the Kindle 2 was announced and I could tell that the tides were starting to shift. Add another 8 months and it seems that a week doesn’t go by without a new eBook reader being announced. One of the most anticipated readers this year (other than the Kindle 2) has been the Barnes & Noble nook. Is it a winner or a dud? Let’s take a look.

Just a note that a lot of the images in this review can be clicked to see larger versions.

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The nook arrived later than promised in a pretty but wasteful package, which I’ve already complained about in my first impressions of the nook posting.

Hardware Specifications

OS: Android
Compatible formats: ePub, PDB, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3
Display: 6 inch diagonal E ink Vizplex electronic paper display and a 3.5 inch color touchscreen LCD
Storage: 2GB (approximately 1500 eBooks)
Expansion: MicroSD card
Wireless: AT&T 3G network, Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g)
Dimensions: 7.7 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounces (317 grams)

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Package Contents

nook
USB cable
AC adapter
Quick start guide

I’m going to warn you now that this review of the nook is going to be heavy with comparisons to the Kindle 2.

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As you can see in the image above (nook on the left, Kindle on the right), both eReaders look pretty similar to each other. The plastic bezel around the nook’s display is close to the same color as the Kindle’s case. The nook even displays author photographs as screen savers like the Kindle. If you don’t care for the author’s photos, you can choose nature scenes or city scapes.

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The nook is slightly smaller than the Kindle as far as width and length measurements. It’s obviously thicker though. In hand it feels comfortable but noticeably heavier than the Kindle. On my digital scale, the Kindle weighs in at 10.2 ounces and the nook weighs in at 12 ounces. The extra weight isn’t a bad though though. I think it gives the device a more luxurious feel.

The nook uses a micro USB cable for charging. Next to USB connector is an amber charging status LED and to the left of that is a 3.5mm earphone jack (there are no earphones included with the reader). On either side are the built in speakers.

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Here’s another view of the thickness of both devices. If you click on the image, you can get a better look at the thin slot on the side (there’s one on the opposite side too) that I’m guessing this will be used for case holders.

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There are also slots on the top and bottom of the shell that might be used for that purpose too. I have yet to purchase a case for the nook, so I’m just guessing.

The top of the nook has a narrow metal power button. Hold it for a few seconds to completely power off the reader, or press it once to wake up the reader.

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The back of the nook has a flexible plastic cover that can be easily removed to gain access to the microSD slot and user changeable battery. The nook supports up to 16GB microSD or microSDHC cards. Class 2, 4, and 6 cards are also supported.

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The removable lithium ion battery is rated at 1530mAh. You’ll also notice that the nook has an AT&T SIM card slot with an included SIM card. This is one reason why I have been looking forward to trying the nook. The Kindle uses Sprint for its wireless service and has never worked at my house, so I have to keep it turned off or it will drain the battery in one day. Although I don’t have AT&T 3G coverage, I have been able to use the nook’s wireless feature to browse the online store.

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The nook lacks a physical keyboard and joystick in favor of a secondary 480 x 144 pixel touch screen beneath the 6 inch e-ink display. This touch screen is color and is used to interact with the reader. The “n” in the thick band that separates the e-ink display from the color touch screen is also touch enabled. It functions as a Home button to wake the nook when the touch screen has gone dark. Tapping it again will go back to the main list of icons that you see above.

I thought I’d love a touch screen on my eReader. Unfortunately, I pretty much hate it. If you’re hoping that the touch screen is as responsive and easy to use as the touchscreen on an iPhone or iPod touch, forget it. I have found that the nook’s touch screen is really ‘touchy’ and sluggish. I sometimes have to practically stab the “n” home button with my finger to get it to react. Scrolling through lists is slow and using the swipe gesture to turn pages while reading works about half the time.

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There are five icons on the home screen that give you access to the daily, my library, shop, reading now and settings. To go to any of those items, you just tap the icon with your finger. Let’s look at each one.

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The Daily is kind of like your what’s new bulletin board message center that is updated automatically every day. Included is a Grin & Tonic article that is a short humorous piece related to current events. Also included is Daybook, which can be a digest of reviews, an article of the day and this day in literature info. The Daily is also the place to go to see a list of books that have been offered to you for lending.

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My Library should be pretty obvious, it’s where you go to see all the books, magazines, and newspapers stored on your nook. Purchased books can be viewed by a scrollable cover art as shown above.

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You’ll notice that there’s no indicator as to how far along you are in the books stored on your device in the library list view. There’s also no way to manually sort the book list. It’s just one big flat list. By default, you only see the books that you’ve purchased. To see the content that you’ve added to the reader’s internal memory or any content stored on the MicroSD card, you have to use the View My Documents menu pick. That gives you another list. This is unlike the Kindle, where you can see one list of everything on your reader.

I do like the fact that there’s a clock in the right corner of most views. I’ve always wanted that on my Kindle.

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When you click on a book cover or title to read, the touch screen gives you options for searching, font size, word look up and annotations.

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The 6 inch diagonal 800 x 600 pixel E-ink Vizplex electronic paper display has 16 levels of greyscale and in my opinion is superior to the Kindle 2’s display. The background is slightly lighter and the text is slightly darker. You can switch between 5 different font sizes and two fonts: Amasis and Helvetica Neue. Switching between fonts is annoyingly slow as the entire document has to be reformatted. As an example, it took about 20 seconds to change from small to medium font size in the Lost Symbol Dan Brown book. From what I can tell, the time it takes to change fonts is dependent on the size of the book. When you change fonts on the Kindle 2, it’s pretty much instantaneous.

Turning pages is accomplished by the two sets of next and prev buttons on the edge of each side of the reader. You are also able to able to swipe the touch screen to turn pages. It’s not very easy to do as you have to swipe really fast. It seems easier to just use the buttons on the sides because you don’t need to move your hand to do so.

Like all e-ink devices, turning pages will cause the screen to blink in inverse (the background will be black and the text will be white) as the page is redrawn. Comparing the nook to my Kindle 2, turning pages is noticeably slower. It’s kind of odd, but I’ve noticed that the nook can turn some pages at a semi-normal speed and then the next page advance will be 2 times as slow as the previous page turn.

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The nook can view PDF files as shown above. But, the PDF only looks good when the font is set to small. At that size the whole page can fill the screen.

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But it’s too small to actually read (at least for my eyes). When you increase the font, the text wraps and looks horrible.

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I updated the firmware on my Kindle 2 so it could view PDF files. The images above show a comparison between the nook and Kindle when viewing the same PDFs. You’ll also notice that you can rotate the Kindle’s display when viewing PDF files. That’s a nice feature!

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Annotating books is something I don’t normally do, but it can be done using the touch screen keyboard. To access the feature, you first have to tap the “n” button. Then select Highlights and notes.

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A navigation wheel will be displayed that is used to select the word or words that you want to annotate.

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After you make your selection, you click the Add Highlight button.

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Then use the touch screen keyboard to add your notes and press submit.

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Annotations show up with an arrow next to them and a light grey background under the text. The only thing missing is an option to list all annotations for a book. Instead there is just an option to view the notes on the current page. Lame. Also, you can’t annotate PDF files.

Using the dictionary feature is similar to making an annotation. You use the same nav wheel to navigate to the word you want to look up and highlight it. Then you are given the word’s definition in a popup block.

Getting books on to your nook is pretty easy. You can save files to the nook’s internal memory by plugging the USB cable into your PC or Mac and dragging and dropping epub, pdfs and pdb (eReader) files. You can also copy files to a microSD card. I copied a bunch of old pdb files and epub files and did find that the nook wasn’t able to load every pdb file I threw at it. Some it would ask me for a username and password for some weird reason. This could be a big deal for people wanting to move a large collection of books from eReader to the nook.

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You can also buy books, magazines and newspapers from the online shop that can be accessed right from the nook. I don’t live in an area with 3G coverage, so navigating the store is painfully slow. Using the wifi feature with my home wifi is MUCH MUCH faster and it’s really enjoyable to browse through books to find something new and interesting to read.

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You can get a free sample selection of a book to help you decide before buying it. If you do decide to buy the book you can do so right from the nook and it will automatically download in a few minutes. There are lots of free books that you can download from the shop too.

As far as magazines and newspapers, there isn’t much of a selection so far. There are only four newspapers and nine magazines. Apparently you can only buy single issues of the available magazines, but you can buy subscriptions of newspapers. That said, there only store doesn’t show details on how many issues of the newspapers that you receive for the subscription price.

The only feature of the nook that I’ve yet to try is the LendMe feature that allows you to lend a book to a friend. From what I’ve read, you can only lend a book one time only and the lending period is just for 14 days. That means if you loan The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown to Janet, you can’t turn around and lend it to Jeanne after Janet’s lending period has ended.

I’ve had the nook for less than a week and my feelings about it are mixed. I really like the display and think that it’s nicer than the Kindle’s. Not by a lot, but to my eyes, it’s noticeable. I also really like the built in wifi that I can use to surf through the B&N store. Having a microSD card for extra storage is also nice and even though I don’t have AT&T 3G coverage (yet), I like that they are using that carrier instead of Sprint. One of the features that I’m not sold on is the touch screen. It looks cool, but it is often sluggish to respond and I find myself missing the the joystick for selecting words to look up in the dictionary. My main gripe about the nook though is the overall slow performance. Switching font sizes and loading books is much too slow. Turning pages is slower than the Kindle, but I’m not sure people that have never used an eReader would even notice. I’m really hoping that a firmware update will fix these problems and if that happens, most of my main complaints will be resolved. In the end, I find myself neither loving or hating the nook and until the performance issues are resolved, I can’t really recommend it. I think it’s an “ok” first generation device, but I was really hoping for a lot more given all the hype. Until something much better comes along, my eBook reader of choice will continue to be the iPhone.

For another opinion on the nook, check out Judie’s review at Geardiary.

 

Product Information

Price:$259.00
Manufacturer:Barnes & Noble
Pros:
  • Wonderful E-ink display
  • AT&T wireless may be nicer for some than Sprint on the Kindle
  • Free WiFi in B&N stores
  • WiFi access at home is nice and fast for buying and shopping for books
Cons:
  • Overall slow performance
  • Touch screen sensitivity is hit and miss
  • Annotation feature needs buffed up
Posted in: eBook Readers, Reviews

{ 50 comments… add one }

  • SeahorseSeaEO December 14, 2009, 10:10 am

    Yay, your nook review! And as usual, very well done. I am glad that you are very straight forward with it’s short comings. I hope that it helps to drive B&N to improve on them. I am looking to forward to see how the firmware evolves for this device.

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  • Julie December 14, 2009, 10:37 am

    @James Thanks! I’m really not happy with the screenshots. I have was having a heck of a time getting them with my camera, so I decided to use my scanner. That should have worked perfectly, but the nook’s display is recessed and caused the text to come out a little blurry. I was too over it to redo them :)

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  • Robert McKay December 14, 2009, 10:43 am

    Just something that you may want to note in your article for people considering which one to buy now: new Kindles are now on AT&Ts network. I just bought a Kindle 2 for my wife after being initially being really excited about the Nook. Right now there just doesn’t seem to be anything to recommend it over the Kindle.

    Oh, and from what I read on the B&N website FAQ the Lend feature will allow you to lend to multiple people, but you can only lend the book once to each person. So, in short, if they can’t read the book in 2 weeks, too bad for them, they just have to buy it themselves.

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  • Janet Cloninger December 14, 2009, 10:45 am

    This is a great review, Julie! I saw the Nook for a couple of minutes in my local B&N yesterday, and it really does have a beautiful E-ink display. As far as the touch screen, I think it works more like the Sony reader touch screen than the iPod’s.

    Because the iPod/iPhone screen is conductive, you just have to barely touch the screen to get it to respond. The Sony screen is pressure sensitive. I found it’s really hit and miss if I use the pad of my finger, but it works much better if I use the side of my finger, or even use the flat surface of my fingernail. You don’t have to press super hard, just use a harder surface than the spongy finger pad. I tried both methods with the Nook screen, and the pressure method was better.

    I love the idea of going into the B&N or using wifi connectivity to be able to check out books. I really miss that feature with the Sony. I could go into a bookstore and look at regular books before buying the ebook, but I don’t want to have to do that!

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  • Philippe Radley December 14, 2009, 10:52 am

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned Walt Mossberg’s review in the Wall Street Journal that appeared the same day as Pogue’s. He makes a number of the same points, and thus backs up what both Pogue and Judie are saying. So we have four reviews (don’t forget Julie’s at The Gadgeteer) that make the same negative points. Point: don’t buy it now! Which makes me think, Kevin, that you ordered a Nook and have to make sure it is good. BTW, my daughter played with a Nook in a B&N store here in NYC and found many of the same problems.

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  • Frank December 14, 2009, 10:59 am

    Thanks, I plan to purchase a Nook early in 2010 when they newly stock the stores. The little grievances that exist melt away at the sheer convenience of having so many books at your fingertips. I like the fact that the Nook handles more ebook file formats. I really felt limited by Kindle’s proprietary business and marketing plan. Competition is great for getting companies to rethink things.

    Yes, I noted that your images above were a bit unflattering. Perhaps better lighting, looks like indoor bulbs shifting a yellow cast on the images. You can easily fix that with Photoshop or any image editing software.

    So Nook it is! Thanks!

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  • blee December 14, 2009, 1:50 pm

    The Nook’s touchscreen is capacitive like the iPhone’s. The reported sluggishness or unresponsiveness is probably more of a software issue than a hardware issue at this point. I would expect this to improve with updates. Nice review, Julie!

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  • Cobin Rox December 14, 2009, 1:50 pm

    Julie – would it be possible to show how the same PDF file (displayed above Nook) as it looks on the Kindle 2 and on the Kindle DX?
    Thanks

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  • Julie December 14, 2009, 1:52 pm

    @blee That’s my hope…

    @Robin Sure, I can do that tonight. I’ll see if I can get some better pictures this time. :)

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  • Kenny December 14, 2009, 2:06 pm

    Great review. I love my Nook. I don’t need LendMe function at all (I know lots of Kindle lover use this to against Nook) so it won’t bother me. I can accept the turning page time because I know it’s a eBook reader “feature”. The weight is a little heavier than Kindle, and I can take it. It lets me easier to hold because it’s design + weight.
    But there are two things I can’t stand for it:
    1.When you jump back from the dictionary’s popup window, you will encounter 2 or 3 times page refresh (just like turning a page). That really annoys me.
    2.Font change problem as you mentioned.
    I really hope they can fix those problems when they updated the firmware. BTW, someone has opened a door for Nook owners. Take a look of this: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/nook-torn-open-hacked-and-rooted/

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  • Julie December 14, 2009, 2:35 pm

    @Kenny I saw the root article earlier this moring. Things should get interesting soon!

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  • Jerry Danzig December 14, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Readers on a budget will be glad to hear of a new ebook reader with great readability and ergonomics for $150: the Ectaco Jetbook Lite. This is a bare-bones reader, to be sure: no wireless, no mp3 support. But it supports the mobi format the NYPL serves up, as well as eReader DRM, FictionBook, plain text, EPUB, RTF, PDF, and others. It doesn’t use the e-ink technology, but has a VERY readable LCD screen that looks as good as the Nook screen shown above, only with fast page turning. It also has a handy built-in dictionary function and comes with a variety of classics (Dickens, Shakespeare, the Bible, etc.) already onboard. It runs on four AA batteries, supposedly for more than 20 hours of continuous use. I have been running the unit on rechargeable NiMH batteries, and the meter is still on full after several hours of reading. The unit also plays well with Windows XP, and it fits in my back jeans pocket. Highly recommended!

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  • Joy December 14, 2009, 4:31 pm

    My first look at these readers. Am I limited to purchasing/using books either from B&N or Amazon, depending on which reader I use? Or can I use ebooks from anywhere with either of these readers?
    I have iphone, 3G, already and am thinking about comment to continue using my iphone although the screen is really small.
    thnx for any advice

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  • SeahorseSeaEO December 14, 2009, 4:51 pm

    So I finally stopped by B&N today to see the nook in person… and I am impressed, despite the so-so reviews it has gotten across the web (not saying this of your review! Just some have been excessively negative). The first thing that struck me was the size… it was much smaller than I expected. The e-ink and color displays were nice. Page turning I didn’t see a problem with, but loading up a book for the first time took quite a while (around 1 minute for Dracula). I noticed the sluggishness of the color display, but I suspect that it would not be used that often.

    The wi-fi is a big plus for me, as I live on the border of 3G coverage. And I would use the nook at home mostly. So over all in my 5 minutes of playing, I am still gonna get one post x-mas (getting gift cards to put towards it). Plus, the possibility of doing other stuff with the nook (apps anyone?), is exciting for me.

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  • Julie December 14, 2009, 4:55 pm

    @Joy Each reader has its own online store. The Kindle uses Amazon. For the nook, you buy books through Barnes & Noble. That doesn’t mean those are the only places you can get books though. You can actually download tons of free books from sites like http://fictionwise.com and http://www.gutenberg.org/.

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  • Julie December 14, 2009, 4:58 pm

    @James One thing I think I forgot to mention in my review is that if you switch back and forth between several books, it has to reload / reformat each time. Just a heads up. I’m really anxious to see if the firmware update we keep hearing about will speed things up. I hope so!

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  • Anarel Riyl December 14, 2009, 7:21 pm

    I think the reason for the difference in contrast between the Kindle’s screen and the nook’s is the thin black border surrounding the nook’s screen. Optical illusions and all that; because the nook has that and the Kindle doesn’t, the nook’s screen will look better. The Kindle doesn’t have that, and the pure white bezel surrounding the screen doesn’t help when trying to compare them fairly.

    I, like many others have solved the optical illusion issue by applying a dark skin to my Kindle.

    I went to a B&N with my Kindle, and because my Kindle had the dark colored skin, I saw no difference between it and the nook’s screen.

    Just thought I’d post this; no one seems to ever have a reason why they say the nook’s screen looks better, and I think this is it.

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  • BaldSpot December 15, 2009, 2:15 am

    I own a Sony PRS 700. Here are some comments after reading the review above:
    1. I like the Nook’s nearly white display and sharp text much better than the Sony’s like gray display and Times New Roman style font.
    2. Opening a new book, navigating menus, etc. on the Sony takes one or two seconds
    3. Switching font sizes and screen orientation from portrait to landscape is immediate.
    4. Cannot change font on the Sony. Stuck with Times New Roman.
    5. The Sony has two slots for memory chips as well as internal memory. All content on the removable memory chips and internal memory appears seamlessly in the same menus.
    6. The screen where all the installed books are listed has the alphabet down along the right side. You can navigate to the “R” books by tapping “R” on the side.
    7. You can create folders to organize content into categories. After dragging all the Dickens’ books into the Dickens folder, the titles appear in the Dickens folder and in the main library. Makes for finding your books super fast.
    8. I can earmark pages, search for text, and highlight and underline text. I cannot write notes, although I think another Sony model can.
    9. If I read book 1, close it and read book 2, then open book 1 again, it opens to the last page I read.
    10. The Sony has a factory installed battery. That stinks in my opinion.
    My conclusion at this point ~ I’ll stick with my Sony and endure the darker screen in trade for the other advantages. Cheers everyone!

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  • SB December 15, 2009, 9:35 am

    David Pogue’s review NY Times really pans the nook severly.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/technology/personaltech/10pogue.html

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  • SeahorseSeaEO December 15, 2009, 10:27 am

    @Julie That would be annoying if you were referencing multiple books a lot. My brain can’t handle reading more than one book at a time though ;) Does it reformat if you go out to the Daily section, then back to a book in progress?

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  • Julie December 15, 2009, 11:35 am

    @James I didn’t bring the nook with me to work today. I’ll test that tonight when I get home. I ‘think’ the answer is no.

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  • Julie December 15, 2009, 11:54 am

    I added some images to the review that compare PDF file viewing on the nook to the Kindle.

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  • jimmyjames December 15, 2009, 8:57 pm

    After your review, I am not sure what to do. I do not have an E-reader now and was really looking at the NOOK. Should I wait?

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  • Julie December 15, 2009, 10:39 pm

    @Jimmyjames Do you just want to read books or view a lot of PDF files? If you need to view a lot of PDF files, I would say go with the Kindle 2 or probably even the larger screened DX. If you just want to read books, that’s a toughy… I like the Kindle’s joystick and the next / prev buttons better than the nook’s touch screen and prev / next buttons. That said, I like the nook’s e-ink display a little better than the Kindle. I do like the wifi capability of the nook… if you plan to buy a lot of books using the device it’s really a nice feature. My advice is to go try a nook and see how it feels to you before you buy one.

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  • Julie December 16, 2009, 6:41 am

    @James I was wrong. It DOES have to reformat if you are reading a book, then go out to read the Daily and then come back to your book. Ick…

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  • SeahorseSeaEO December 16, 2009, 8:44 am

    @Julie The B&N boards are saying that the impending firmware update is supposed to reduce the reformatting times…. let’s hope :)

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  • Cobin Rox December 16, 2009, 8:50 am

    @jimmyjames – I’m in the same boat. Either way, none of the down sides pointed out about the nook or kindle (or any of the e-readers for that matter) are show stoppers. The bottom line is that if you like to read, these are the greatest thing since canned cat fud. I’m going to donate my Kindle 1 to a friend who loves to read and was fascinated by it – the fact that you can highlight a word in the e-reader and bring up a dictionary definition of it was the biggest selling point. And, since I do a lot of PDF viewing for my job, I’ll probably go with the DX. In any case, these are great inventions. It *sounds* like some of the negative points about the nook may be able to be solved with software downloads, where as some of the negative points about the DX (most notably the lack of memory slot) might not.

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  • Philippe Radley December 16, 2009, 12:07 pm

    I have seen 4 reviews of this device: Julie’s, Judy’s at GearDiary, Pogue’s in the NYT and Mossberg’s in the WSJ. All were negative, and pointed to the same defects. It’s rare to see such agreement. I wouldn’t even consider the Nook at this point (I am getting a new Kindle) and I would advise anyone who asked not to.

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  • John December 18, 2009, 4:57 pm

    I have had my nook since 12/9. Operates as advertised both from B&N and in the reviews. This is the first time I have picked a 1st generation device, I am happy with the decision in this case. The reason: All of the short comings appear to be software generated. Periodic updates will be available and will address these. Meanwhile, I have a very usable device that is quite a bit less weight than the 3-books I historically have taken on buisiness trips and vacation. My wife enjoys it as it means a thinning of the hardback and magazine library in my house. Tried the Kindle, liked it, but felt the nook will be more versitle in the near future without buying a new machine.

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  • Corey December 26, 2009, 4:26 am

    Two things not mentioned in the review that I think are important:

    1. Kindle 2 has text to speech function, Nook does not. I am not sure how much I would use that, but I had a friend who bought the Kindle 2 and says she’s found she uses this feature a lot and really likes that.

    2. While not an aspect of the ereader, the prices of e-books between Amazon and Barnes and Noble are significant. Some are same price, but many cases B&N is much more expensive and can be add up to a large amount to those buying a lot of books.

    I am still stuck on deciding what to buy.

    the other sticking points between deciding which to buy are the battery. i like the DIY removable battery on the Nook, rather than have to send it in to Amazon, and the memory cards you can use on the Nook. I like the international support on the Kindle, since I am overseas most of the time.

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  • Reader December 27, 2009, 9:51 pm

    It is really the international support for the Kindle that will be attractive to those working or travelling outside the US most of the time.

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  • Adria January 13, 2010, 1:07 pm

    Bought a Nook. It doesn’t work. Ebooks are unreadable as the device crashes after the first page of any of the ebooks on the device (including the ones that came with it). After it crashes (which renders the device unusable as it is unresponsive) and the device is restarted, when you reopen the crashed ebook, it renders a message that the ebook can’t be opened. Waste of money. Buy a Kindle instead!

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  • Julie January 13, 2010, 1:47 pm

    @Adria It sounds like you bought a defective unit. Did you try getting a replacement?

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  • Armen January 15, 2010, 10:32 am

    I have a Cybook Gen3 and using its dictionary is just painful, this is something that easily can be solved in nook using its lcd touch-screen:

    It’s a simple problem [or at least seems simple :P ]

    – My first and second languages are not English so while reading an English book I need to use the dictionary a lot… and the process of slowly moving the cursor (*) to the word I want to look up is torturous, then there is a number of .5 seconds involved in showing the definition, its next page(s), and then refreshing and returning to the page itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a virtual keyboard on the touchscreen, type in the word, see the definition on the touchscreen itself, scroll up and down there (touchscreen)? This approach will also have the advantage of using colors in definitions too, examples, synonyms, etc. Then if the user feels the need to see the definition on eink, they can project the definition to the eink display.

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  • Dayne January 18, 2010, 5:00 pm

    My Nook arrived today and I spent several hours with it. Most annoying is the known “can’t register via wi-fi” problem, but fortunately there is a 3G signal a couple miles down the road.

    Otherwise it’s fairly functional, the type is a little soft for my eyes, and the lack of ZOOM on PDF files is a little annoying, and for some reason I thought the Nook had page rotatation, which it doesn’t.

    DRM books don’t allow as large a font size as same book with DRM stripped. Still a little small for my middle-aged eyes.

    Wi-Fi works well.

    Side by side though, unless some one was really counting on wireless browsing and delivery, the JetBook Lite (currently $119 through NewEgg) is probably a better value at over half the cost. Just get rechargeable “AA” batteries and the TFT reflective screen is even easier to read in subdued light.

    The Nook is an aesthically pleasing, does-what-it-says device, but with the exception of epub book reading (JetBook also reads, Kindle doesn’t), it doesn’t seem to have very much over the Kindle. Still, firmware is easy to update, and B&N will likely keep trying (within reason) to correct bugs and update with features their core customers want to see (like PDF zoom, page rotate and at least one larger font size).

    3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • SeahorseSeaEO February 8, 2010, 5:35 pm

    Julie: I hope that you are going to re-review with the new 1.2 update. I finally got my nook last week prior to the 1.2 release. I loved my nook before, and really love it now! Switching between books is easy, and things got much faster.

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  • Julie February 8, 2010, 5:53 pm

    @James I don’t think I’ll do another review, but I’ll definitely check out the new release. I haven’t used my nook since the review. I’m still using the iPhone as my primary reader.

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  • Janice February 28, 2010, 6:53 am

    I have a Nook and honestly now that I’ve played with it for a few months. I don’t like it. I should have purchased the Kindle. I don’t like the fact that it doesn’t have text to speech or the web browser. Plus, the price of the ebooks at B & N are just too much. It really takes the fun out of owning the Nook. I’m disappointed and looking to get rid of it.

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  • crhilton April 27, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Got my Nook on Sunday. I do really enjoy it so far, and most of the issues mentioned have been fixed (there’s now web browsing, but I don’t use it: This isn’t the device for web browsing…).
    I registered my nook, and my wife’s, via wi-fi. Had to, since there was no 3G signal at my home (smack dab in the middle of the city).

    The screen and form factor are really nice. The touch screen works, that’s about it. I don’t expect a good interface for that: I expected kludgy. I suspect that a lot of the difficulties in the touch screen stem from them wanting you to be able to touch it while reading without inputting commands. That will improve over time with software changes.

    The book prices were low enough that I don’t care if amazon is cheaper. Most of the books I’m looking at right now are $20-$30 bound and under $10 for the e-book. And the e-book is nicer to read.

    The Lend feature sucks. B&N screwed that up royally. I’d be happier if it wasn’t there at all. I actually planned to use it when I bought it, only to learn later about the one lend per book for life rule: BOOOOOO. Turns out the Kindle’s multiple readers on one account would have been perfect for my wife and I.

    I would *really* like to see lend extended and made useful for libraries. I think that if they did that, they’d see Nook take off like crazy. Even if they had to have special versions of books for libraries that cost more.

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  • Marcey May 26, 2010, 1:25 pm

    I just bought my nook last week. It had the 1.2 version, but the store downloaded the 1.3 version for me right in the store in about 10 minutes. I have loaded 49 books and they appear immediately – no delays. 1.3 includes the addition of more buttons – wi-fi, games, audio, etc. are nice. Start-up is slow, but after that it’s plenty fast for me. There’s a huge number of free books available, and a lot at just $1.99 or so – most new releases that are $25 in the store are just $9.99. I LOVE the “airplane mode” which turns off the wi-fi while you are reading if you don’t need to access it. This saves literally DAYS of battery life! Since this is my first 3-reader and I don’t have expectations, I’m hooked on nook!

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  • Rob Tillotson May 26, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Yes, the 1.3 software is nice, and I’ve also noticed my local B&N stores pushing the nook much more heavily, with a counter right as you come in the door and a dedicated employee giving tutorials. Also, for the next few weeks, if you go in there and show them your nook (or anything else with the B&N reader software on it) they’ll give you a code for a free book (a different one each week).

    When you mention startup being slow… you’re not turning your nook all the way off when you’re done using it are you? You shouldn’t ever need to do that unless it’s for a software update or long-term storage. Just put it to sleep — even with wireless on it can go days (or longer) asleep without a recharge.

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  • Allen Reinecke June 15, 2010, 6:46 pm

    I have had the nook (V1.3) almost a month and e-reading is very addictive! Overall I like my nook, but it has some niggles that need to be addressed to be “perfect”.

    The lack of customizable book organizing is a pain. The touchscreen seems a little too sensitive at times, especially when you meant to scroll and it selects a chapter. It would be less of a problem if the Go To function stayed at the last menu position, but it goes right back to the start of the book. Not being able to go to a page number is a real pain if the book has no chapters! Try spending a few minutes of button pushing to get through tens of pages.

    I like the ability to customize the wallpaper images and screensaver images – I have created several myself with the nook “n” appearing somewhere in the frame.

    The new web browser is useful if you have no other option, but the navigation via the touchscreen is not easy. The music/audio file player is OK, but not much use if you already carry an iPod. The chess and Sudoku games are no value to me, especially when I have my iPod with me.

    Occasionally a page turn hesitates (especially if there’s an image on the next page) and you have to wait for the nook. Re-pressing the page button just jumps you by yet another page when nook gets around to doing what you asked of it in the first place.

    With wi-fi turned off, the battery life is good and has proved no problem at home, so far. I charge it every night anyway.

    I love the fact that I can edit epub files using Sigil (freeware) and upload them via Calibre (freeware). I’ve added chapters to the TOC in free books and images in my child’s Beatrix Potter stories.

    No tech. problems so far and I’m hoping for the next V1.4 software update to fix some of the above-mentioned issues (must be coming soon??)

    I purchased the 2-year warranty, so if I accidentally drop my nook and bust it, it will be replaced. :-)

    nook is a really serious e-reader contender with the Kindle

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  • christine July 25, 2010, 8:34 pm

    just wondering…
    i have lots of ebooks that i read on my netbook which is obviously not ideal and so was looking into purchasing a nook. however, pretty much all of my ebooks are in PDF format, and some books have the pages little so that i have to zoom in 1 or 2 times to read the font.
    does this pose any kind of issue with the nook?
    in otherwords, if i have ebooks in the form of ‘small paged’ PDFs, will they appear at a “read-able” size?

    thanks!

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  • Stan July 29, 2010, 5:08 pm

    pdf reader shows technical illustrations nicely only in small font.
    medium shows up so messed up its impossible to read.

    nook needs major improvements for pdf reader.
    the same issue persist accross all android devices

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  • Cynthia August 3, 2010, 12:58 pm

    3 week nook owner here… so far, loving it. I am hoping that book organization will show up in the next update.

    Have not found page turning slow at all with v1.4. I have read several books in PDF format, no problem, though font size changing is a bit less predictable in effect than with ePUB format. Still, I’ve been able to read all PDF books so far with no trouble. Hardware PDF manuals don’t always cut it on my nook, however.

    Battery life could be better. I’m a voracious reader, so I probably use it more than most. However, no biggie to just charge it every few days. The screen is nice and easy for me to view. I don’t play the two games, so those are rather useless to me. I don’t often bother reading the daily anymore.

    I really LOVE the swipe gesture on the touchscreen for turning pages. It was a little hard to get the feel of at first, but now I can swipe with just about any finger on either hand. Much nicer than pressing a button, as button pressing aggravates my tendinitis. Swiping is wonderful! It also feels much like you are turning the page of a real book.

    One thing your review left out, the ability to borrow library eBooks! That was a big deal in choosing the nook for me! Gives me the option of borrowing and reading, but not buying unless I really want the book. I’m reading a library book now with two more on hold. It’s nice having both access to free classics and being able to read bestsellers for free, though of course, sometimes there is a wait. And not every ebook I could want is available from my library yet.

    Hubby also has a nook, and even though we each have our own BN account, we can still share books via side loading and opening them with our name & default credit card number. Once opened this way, the book will be indefinitely readable for the other person as long as they keep it on their nook. It works… he missed out on a BN freebie book the other day, but I gave it to him via side load and he’s reading it now.

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  • Joe August 15, 2010, 2:22 am

    Im now a Nook convert. Im using firmware 1.40. One time I returned my Nook for a Sony PRS-600 but I was disappointed because the glare is too much for me. What a difference the Nook has with this unit in terms of the screen readability. I ended up returning the Sony reader and getting back the Nook. My only wish for this Nook to have is a way to organize the books that I stored inside it. The touchscreen is sluggish but I never felt that this is a big issue for me at this time. I also wish that at least this Nook can have apps like calculator, Simple Notepad, and some other useful tools that can be installed.

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  • Ted November 30, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I am looking to purchase an ebook reader for my son but I need one that he can download college text books on to. I have been told he can only do this on the nook. Is that true? Are there any other ebook readers that college text books can be loaded on to?

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  • Soloman December 16, 2010, 1:23 am

    yes you can load text books onto the nook.
    I dont know of any others that do..
    just because i dont like any others, really. lol

    But,
    the new firmware on the nook (1.5)
    is soo amazing!
    It is very very fast!
    touch screen far more responsive..

    everything has greatly improved since they first came out a year ago.

    very impressive.!
    <3

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  • Donna January 2, 2011, 10:57 pm

    I absolutely LOVE my Nook. I spent quite a bit of time testdriving Kindles, Nooks, Sony e-readers, and any other e-readers owned by friends. The Nook gives me the ability to have expandable memory and to borrow books from our public library. No other e-reader is capapble of this (I phoned the library and asked). So, for me anyway, the cost of e-books is a huge issue. I don’t have to purchase books if I don’t want to since I can check them out at the library. I even have one co-worker who has a Kindle and recently purchased a Nook for that very reason.

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  • Janet Cloninger January 2, 2011, 11:05 pm

    The person at the library was mistaken. You can borrow library books using the Sony readers. They were the first to allow you to do so. You can borrow PDF or ePub files from the OverDrive service used by public libraries. http://sonysearch.overdrive.com/?in_merch=Homepage_LibraryFinder_Rt_1

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