Nook Review – Hands On

I reviewed the Barnes & Noble Nook last night, but I got to spend some time with it tonight so this is a follow-up to the original post.

I went in to my local Barnes & Noble to test out the free Wi-Fi feature and ideally the 3G connection. I succeeded in the Wi-Fi test, but not the 3G. I was using the floor model, so naturally it was connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot. I did confirm that the 3G is free and is offered by AT&T.

Upon picking up the Nook, I immediately noticed the light weight. I could comfortably hold it in my hand. The navigation buttons are offered on both sides of the screen to encourage one-handed use. You can turn pages either direction with one hand. The next thing I noticed, having just played with the Sony Reader again, was the inability to navigate the e-Ink screen. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but I had to keep reminding myself to use the buttons.

The Android-based navigation screen on the bottom was simple enough. It isn’t an Android OS as tablets go, but I would say it is more along the lines of the Android-powered washing machines. It offers quick scrolling through book covers, and provides the up and down navigation when scrolling through book titles in the store and in your collection.

I checked out the e-store, and the free daily book options. Both were simple enough, and were good features to have on a device. You get a free book every week, 52 weeks a year with the Nook. This is on top of the public domain books available, to the tune of more than 500,000 titles. The books were fairly easy to find.

I wasn’t as happy with the font choices though. You have a few sizes to choose from, and a couple of pre-set fonts, but there are no shading options to make it easier to read. Being e-Ink that is not a huge deal, but the Kindle does offer the black screen and white text. The nook is stuck on gray screen and black text.

All-in-all, I still think this is a good device. The free 3G and free Wi-Fi are great features. The books are easy to access, and there are lots of available titles. There are magazine options for single use or subscriptions. The Nook even outdoes the Sony Reader in some respects, namely being the color navigation screen. I am a fan of e-Ink, and that brings the Nook up on my list of possible purchases. I am interested in seeing what happens to the price in the near future though. With tablets gunning for it, regardless of whether or not they are comparable, the prices are likely going to need to drop significantly to keep e-Ink as a viable option. I hope that it can stand on its own however. It makes books much easier to read without having to worry about glare and eye strain. Having spent more time with it, I still recommend it. It may not be the ultimate gadget for tech-nerds like myself, but I did enjoy playing with it and seeing what it had to offer.

Tags: , , ,