My first impressions of the Nook have nothing to do with the Nook

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nook-fpThose of you that have been keeping score know that I was pretty ticked off when I received an email from Barnes & Noble last week letting me know that my pre-ordered Nook would not arrive on December 1st as promised. I’m happy to say that they did deliver on their 2nd promise of December 9th. The UPS driver placed it in my hot little hands about 30 minutes ago. I quickly sliced open the cardboard box and pulled out my shiny new eReader and two sheets of paper.


The first sheet was the purchase receipt and the second one was instructions on how to open the packaged Nook. Ummm… why do I need instructions?


You can click on the image above for a larger view. As you can see, it goes into considerable detail on how to unpackage the Nook.


Although the packaging looks nice, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed when I pulled off the cardboard sleeve and noticed that the reader was housed in a clear plastic case. Who’s idea was this? Oh boy, more crap to dump in the land fill.


Here is all the packaging minus a smaller box that held the mini AC plug, USB cable and Getting Started instruction sheets.


All that plastic to hold this. Hmmmmm… Maybe this is why shipping took so long? They had to design a pretty case to package the Nook that 9 out of 10 people are going to throw in the trash 5 minutes after removing the Nook. 🙁 Yes, I’m a tree hugger. This stuff makes me sad.


I decided to write this up as the Nook is charging. It’s one of my new gadget rituals that I can’t use the device until it fully charges the first time. I will say that the Nook’s display at a very quick glance looks better than the display on the Kindle 2. Also, I was really surprised to notice that the idle screen pictures are a complete rip-off of the ink drawing author’s portraits that the Kindle uses.

More tomorrow after I actually use it.

35 thoughts on “My first impressions of the Nook have nothing to do with the Nook”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Can’t wait to read the review of it. The screen does look lovely. Hopefully the color screen won’t drain out the battery that fast.

  3. @Julie Wow! It looks beautiful. But I always thought the author drawings on the Kindles were a rip off of the author drawings the Barnes and Nobles has always had hanging in their stores, on their bag, and even on canvas tote bags you can buy there!

  4. According to my B&N account, my Nook was shipped last night and I should be getting it today/tomorrow. Thanks for the update.

  5. I’d be particularly interested in your thoughts about the ease in creating and referencing annotations. I’d also be interested in your take on using the touch keyboard. Congrats!

  6. At least you got the instructions on how to get it out of that damned plastic case. The one we got didn’t even come with that. And, as you know, it’s not an easy task to get it outta there. About twenty minutes of fighting with it, we finally won.

    Agreed. Total waste of plastic. Not like the 100% recycled container the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX come in. That’s for sure.

  7. My main questions have to do with PDFs, particularly ones that you might find in scientific journals — usually two columns of text and a number of figures/tables interspersed in the document. I’ve played with a Nook in my local B&N and I think it’s a solid eBook reader, at least as competent as the Kindle. The folks at B&N have been hesitant to let me open the back and insert my microSD card to test its PDF capabilities. I totally understand, but that means that I’m dependent on tech reviewers before I decide on a device…

  8. In your review, do me a favor and weigh the nook. I played with one in a BN store and it felt alot heavier that 11oz. Thanks!

  9. Glad to see some competition in the marketplace. I remember when mobile phones first appeared & how expensive they were. A bit of competition did wonders for costs & features.

    Can’t wait for Apple to chime in with one as well – all good for consumers in the long run.


  10. Here is a thought. It looks like the plastic is pretty hard and that there are slots (at least it looks it in the picture). Could it be that B&N has actually provided a reading stand for that beautiful screen and forgotten to mention it in the instructions?
    If it isn’t as sturdy as it looks, shame on B&N for the extra oil consumption for no good reason.

  11. Obviously someone at B&N saw “The Graduate” too many times. (Obscure reference which will make people who get it feel very clever.)

    One reason I may get a Kindle is for the read aloud feature. I like to listen to audio books as I do my morning walk, clean the house, iron, etc. The Nook doesn’t do that, as yet. (But its sad that many publishers have turned off that ability in their eBooks.)

  12. Re the plastic packaging.

    The package was small — so small that there’s no way something like the nook would survive bulk shipping to the store shelves. Ever see an IPod package? It’s either in a box much larger than the Ipod (with space to cushion crushing blows) or small hard plastic boxes not much larger than the device (a la ipod nano).

    For stuff like this, it’s kind of a no-win… either large box for a small device, or a small ridged box (read: plastic).

    I’d say either save the packaging for a DIY project or store the compact package for later storage/movement/resale of the nook…

  13. Today’s review by David Pogue in the NYTimes is positively damning: He says the refresh rate when you turn the page is an astounding 3 seconds! Walt Mossberg in the WSJ advises prospective purchasers to wait as the Nook is “not fully baked yet.” My daughter just reported to me, morevoer, that there are already reports of poor print rendition, and even blank pages. B&N was clearly intent on hitting the Xmas market, but right now this looks like a terrible mistake.

  14. @Philippe Radley A couple of other tech blogs have mentioned the delay. Yet I have read user reviews saying they are not seeing them. Will be interesting to see what Julie finds. I agree it was probably rushed, but hopefully firmware updates will work out the glitches.

  15. Seahorse, I hope you’re right, as competition is a good thing. Moreover, we all know that when the Sony and then the Kindle appeared, they had glitches. B&N’s problem, however, is different: when those devices appeared, there was very little competition, today there are a good many devices and more coming, and they are way ahead in development. The delay in page turning, BTW, is but one shortcoming among many others (a nonresponsive touch screen, foolishly limited wireless connectivity, and an unbelievably shortsighted book lending capability). What every write-up I have seen to date says is alarming: the Nook stacks up poorly against the Sony, the Kindle, and other devices too. I know that I am getting a Kindle 2 over the holidays (I have had the original Kindle for over two years now) and these notices don’t make me regret not getting a Nook.

  16. The question is, if Apple really does release an iTablet in the first quarter of 2010, are the current buyers/owners of Kindles & Nooks going to be disappointed? It seems like the iTablet will read a pdf correctly, have wifi connectivity, and do a host of other things that will really put the e-book reader market on its heels.

  17. The page lag issue I heard about was theoretically fixed in an over-the-air update of the firmware on Monday, PRIOR to most actual end users (like me) receiving their nook. I don’t find it takes that long for the pages to turn, in fact the lag is certainly noticeable if you’ve never used an e-reader before, but its no different than on the Kindle.

    My experience so far has been pretty sweet with the nook. Its a pleasure to use, in fact.

    I have found blank pages – but that’s only been in the free google scanned books I’ve downloaded which typically have one blank page after the cover but before the story actually begins.

  18. @Philippe Radley Well, I actually feel that it is the nook versus Kindle. The other readers don’t seem to be getting much attention. And I would think the popularity of the Kindle should drive a fire under B&N to fix the nook’s short comings 🙂

    @Robert I personally think the Apple Tablet does not intersect much with people looking for eReaders. The Apple Tablet will probably cost a lost more than the current eReaders (current rumors are around $1000 for the tablet). I would not be disappointed with getting a nook now and an Apple Tablet come out later.

  19. Robert: That’s like asking people if the advent of netbooks will leave buyers of Intel powerhouse i7 systems disappointed; it’s a different device with somewhat different technologies and target audience… since the refresh rate on the tablet would be an issue along with relatively short (compared to an eInk device) battery life. Yes, it’ll read a PDF natively and have WiFi, but it’d be more a huge iPod Touch than a dedicated ebook reader… just as a netbook is more a web-browsing device/media unit than a heavy-duty gaming rig which can render photorealistic 3D graphics in real time.

    Each device has its place, and just because it’s an Apple device doesn’t mean it’ll automatically take over the eBook market… any more than the iMac has completely taken over the desktop computer market. The big reason the iPod won the MP3 player market in the first place is because it combined good features with an affordable price (it cost less than a comparable Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox, IIRC, while having far more capacity than the flash players of the day like the Rio)… and price is the big reason Apple hasn’t crushed the competition in the desktop market. Especially if the $1000+ rumors for a device with less capabilities than a netbook are true.

  20. I own a Sony PRS 700 Reader. I went to the Barnes & Noble bookstore today and played with the Nook. Here are my thoughts:

    1. The Nook is much easier to read than the Sony. The Nook’s background is nearly white, where the Sony’s is light gray. The Nook’s font is like Arial, where the Sony’s is like Times New Roman. For this reason, I can read the Nook with the font set at a smaller font size than with the Sony. This is reason enough for me to sell my Sony and get a Nook.

    2. The Sony comes with an excellent hard protective cover with a magnetic latch. You open the Sony like you open a book. You can snap the Sony out of the cover, but I never do. I just hold it like an open book. The Nook does not come with a cover. If you want a cover, it’ll cost ya!

    3. Holding the Sony Reader in its cover is like holding an open book. If I hold the Sony Reader with both hands, it is a natural movement for me to swipe the screen with my thumb to turn the page. If I hold it with one hand, my thumb naturally rests right over the two page-turn buttons at the lower part of the frame. Either way, page turns are natural and easy.

    4. Holding the Nook is like holding a (thin) closed book. The thumbs hover over the page-turning buttons on the left and right edges. Pressing the page turn buttons is easy and natural.

    5. The Sony’s screen is a touch screen. You can navigate and make selections with your finger or stylus directly on the reading screen. The Nook’s reading screen does not respond to actions. Navigating and selecting is done in the smaller, lower windows. Page turns are done only with the side buttons. I do not consider there to be an advantage in either system. Just different.

    6. The Sony has a solid feel to it. It has metal construction. Some have said the Kindle feels like a cheap plastic toy when compared to the Sony. The Nook is all plastic, but feels good. Does not feel like a cheap plastic toy. I have never held a Kindle.

    7. The Nook’s page turns are as fast as the Sony’s ~ about one second. The Sony page turn consists of the page going blank and then popping up the new text. The Nook fades the current text away as the new text fades into view. For that reason, some might find the Nook’s page turns to be less bothersome.

    So far, my vote is for the Nook. However, I’m waiting for more owners to post their opinions before I take the plunge.

  21. Thanks Julie, I was hoping. Maybe that should be a suggestion if they are going to use the hard plastic. I finally got to stop by a store and hold a nook today. I really didn’t notice any lag in the page turn. I am still going to wait for the Que however. When I found the pdf file, that the store clerk didn’t know was there, it was “squeezed” into a font that was readable. When I changed the font to see the whole page, it was so small that it couldn’t be read. The clerk asked me if I could stay and give a demo. I couldn’t stay, but it would have been fun.

  22. I just played with a Nook at a B&N Store. The screen is very pretty. A nice color for contrast. Not too light, not too dark.

    I thought the page turns were reasonably fast. The software update must have sped things up some versus the models reviewed by Walt Mossbert, the NY Times and others.

    The touch screen certainly looks interesting and I like that it goes dark, which minimizes distractions when reading. But it did seem slow to respond, even on a store test model where there are only four or five things on the Nook. And the navigation did not seem intuitive. Since B&N is out to February for delivery at the earliest, I may just need to get a Kindle.

  23. Thanks for the blog entry and photographs! My Nook just arrived but I did not get the sheet of paper that mentioned how to unbox the unit.

    Once I freed my Nook from the case and charged it up, the device got stuck on the login/register screen. I’ve been on the phone with B&N for over 15 minutes and no one is really sure what to do with it.


  24. Nook looks so nice. I have 2 questions. Does Nook support unicode or Asian languages, such as Chinese? If I upload a Chinese ebook in pdf format, is it readable in Nook? And where to buy Nook in NYC? If possible, please send me mail for more details. Thanks.

    1. @Ken I don’t recall a comment from you last week asking about hacking on the case. I do see that you put some keyword links in your comment, which I have removed.

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