Simply the Nook

Nook Simple Touch box

I received my Father’s Day present a bit early this year. My wife let it slip that she was planning on getting me an eReader as a present, and had to pick the model I wanted. Thanks to some sleuthing I managed to track down a Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light at a local Target, and off we went to pick it up. I just finished my first book on the device, Prisoner of Azkaban, and have some thoughts on the device.

First, I was impressed as soon as I went to open the packaging. The Nook comes in a minimalist package that is both beautiful and incredibly easy to open. The box has two flaps, one which contains the power adapter and usb cable and the other which contains the Nook and a colorful quick start guide. In a world where device makers think of packaging as a shipping container, it’s clear that Barnes and Noble wanted their device to be presented as a work of art – their eye for detail pays off.

The device itself deserves such a presentation. It is thin, feather-light, and a joy to hold. The front of the Nook holds four buttons to control page turns. The buttons can be set up to allow the device to be controlled left or right handed. Being left-handed, this is a feature I appreciate. Apart from the control buttons, the front of the Nook has home button in shape of Nook’s distinctive “n” branding. On the back of the device is a power button, and on the bottom edge is a micro-usb port for charging and syncing. The right edge has a flap which reveals the mico-sd slot for expanded memory. All in all the hardware is elegantly minimalist. It looks elegant.

The touch screen isn’t as responsive as a capacitive LCD screen – but that’s a limitation of eInk as much as the device itself. Even with the slower refresh rate on the screen, the user interface is simple and well-implemented. In fact, the layout is so good that my mind expects that the Nook is more than an eReader. The system is responsive enough that i wouldn’t mind typing an email on it if a client was ever provided for it. Being left-handed, I tend not to use the touch screen to flip pages in books, but on the occasions when I’ve done so I’ve been impressed with how well it works.

The display itself is stunning. The agonizingly slow refresh rates of early eInk displays are a think of the past. In fact, the Nook Simple Touch even manages to avoid the massive screen blackout which plagued earlier displays. While I never felt I had a problem reading on an LCD screen, I was stunned by how my eyes took to reading the eInk. In fact, I felt I could read a much smaller font-size on the Nook than I can on my iPad. The killer feature of this Nook model, however, is the glow light. Holding down the home button for two seconds engages the light, which bathes the display in a soft light. The light can be adjusted for brightness via a menu accessed in the status bar. The Nook with glow light is extremely difficult to find (our local Barnes and Noble has a waiting list of about 80 names), and having used the light I can see why. The light completely lights up the text, but manages to do so without overpowering the eyes.

Reading on the Nook is a pleasant experience. I’d never complained about reading on my iPad, but after reading a book on handed on the Nook I can’t see myself using the iPad as my primary reader. In fact, after using the Nook to read in bed I’m tempted to say the reading experience is better on this device than a paper book. I don’t miss the hand cramps which come from trying to hold a book open!

If you’re in the market for an eBook reader, the Nook Simple Touch with glow light is a great choice. In fact, the combination of hardware, display, and ease of use might make it the choice.