Nook Review – Detailed Nook Review

This Nook review is focused on the Nook reading experience and written after reading 2 books (The Road, Maximum Ride), a short story (Star Wars), and several newspaper and magazine articles on the Nook.

If you’re trying to decide between the Nook and the Kindle, please do check out my Kindle Vs Nook Review

Nook Review – the indispensable eReader functions

The Nook is the first eReader to match the Kindle’s 60 second wireless downloads feature and this sets it up to do very well on the two indispensable eReader functions. 

Please check out the Nook Review Videos page for videos.

Getting Books on the Nook

B&N does a solid job -

  1. There is a decent range of content and prices are second only to the Kindle Store.  
  2. Note that B&N are very vague about the break-up between paid and public domain books and their claim of over a million books includes a ton of Google Books. They don’t have as many new books as the Kindle Store.
  3. The Nook matches the Kindle in ease of buying books (they can’t use 1-click buying as its patented – However, the experience is close enough).

A solid 8 out of 10. This would be a 9 if B&N increased the range of new books available and reduced prices.

Reading Books on the Nook

This is where the Nook really shines -

  1. The screen is supposed to be the same as the Kindle – Yet the Nook uses a black border, a whiter background, and bolded font to create better screen contrast and improve readability.
  2. Its battery life is not as long as that of the Kindle and still pretty decent. 1 week with wireless off and a few days with wireless on.
  3. Turning pages is slow and needs work – However, the software update is supposed to address this and B&N should be able to figure this out.
  4. The Nook does disappear once you start reading (and once the LCD touchscreen shuts off).

A solid 10 out of 10. The screen is just very good for reading and while the delayed page turns are a bit of a pain it’s a software issue that can be addressed.

Nook Review – the hugely important eReader functions

Nook Review – Screen Quality and Size

A 6″ eInk screen and 16 shades of gray are supplemented with some smart modifications to give us -

  1. Excellent contrast and readability. The strongest thing going for the Nook in my opinion. 
  2. The Nook is a tiny bit susceptible to bright overhead lights. Not enough to affect readability though.  
  3. The standard 6″ size is good for reading. Note that it’s less reading area than a paperback.  

The Nook does really well on screen quality and size – a solid 9 out of 10.

Ease of Use

The Nook flip-flops between dead easy to use and devilishly confusing -

  1. When you’re actually reading –  use only the page turn buttons and ignore the touchscreen and everything is smooth. 
  2. Using the touchscreen, opening up books, changing fonts, navigating through the menus are all a bit awkward.
  3. Search (both files and inside a book) and the dictionary look-up are quite awkward.
  4. There are no Folders.

The Nook does terribly on ease of use – Just 5 out of 10.

Review of Nook’s Portability

The Nook does pretty well on Portability -

  1. It’s compact and a bit smaller than a paperback. 
  2. It’s not as thin as some other eReaders.
  3. The weight is an issue – it makes one-handed reading difficult and if you have arthritis it might not work. You really should try it at a store before buying.
  4. Decent battery life.
  5. Good memory and the ability to extend via the SD Card slot.  

8 out of 10 stars.

Nook Review – Reference on the Nook

Nook’s reference features are weak -

  1. Despite having WiFi and 3G the Nook doesn’t have a browser and that rules out Internet research and Wikipedia.
  2. The dictionary is implemented poorly.

Nook gets just 4 stars out of 10 for Reference.

Search on the Nook

The search on the Nook is decent but not good. The lack of a browser again limits what searches you can do.

5 out of 10 stars.

Content Rights and Content Portability

The Nook does really well here with some negatives. The good aspects -

  1. Nook supports ePub and Adobe Digital Editions which means you can use Sony store books on the Nook.  
  2. Nook has applications for PC, Mac, iPhone, and Blackberry.
  3. It’s beginning to match the Kindle Store on prices.

The negatives aspects -

  1. Nook eBooks at the moment can’t be read on Sony Reader – even when they are in ePub.
  2. The ebooks still have DRM.
  3. B&N’s reading applications for different platforms are quite buggy.

Nook does make a solid effort and it gets 8 stars out of 10 stars.

Nook Review – Annotations on the Nook

Highlights, notes, and bookmarks are supported. However, adding highlights and notes is rather complicated -

  1. You first scroll down and choose ‘Highlights and Notes’ on the touchscreen.
  2. Then you use the touchscreen to move to the point on the eInk screen where you want to start the highlight.
  3. Then you start the highlight and move to where you want the highlight or note to end.
  4. Then you type in what you want.
  5. That finishes the highlight/note.

You can also choose to either show or hide the highlights – a slightly unnecessary option.

The multiple steps by themselves are excessive - the LCD touchscreen just makes things more difficult.

7 stars out of 10.

Changeable Font Sizes

There are lots of strengths and one major weakness -

  1. The weakness is that the largest font size is just 18 pt in Word. If you have low vision consider the Kindle (20pt maximum font size, 40pt font size to be added in mid 2010) or the Sony Reader (22-23 pt maximum font size) instead. 
  2. Kindle and Sony Reader also have screen rotation which is useful in some cases.
  3. The first Nook strength is that there are 3 different fonts available.
  4. The second strength is that all text is bolded which increases contrast between text and background. This is aided by a whiter background and a black border around the eInk screen.

Nook gets 8 stars out of 10.

Audio books on the Nook

Nook supports only mp3 format audiobooks. The lack of Audible format audiobooks is rather surprising.

5 stars out of 10.

One Handed Use of the Nook

Reading the Nook with one hand is challenging – you’ll find yourself propping up your hand against the bed or another surface.

The Nook is closer in weight to a hardcover than a paperback and it isn’t really suited to one-handed reading.

4 stars out of 10.

Time and Date

The Nook shows the time in the status bar on the top right of the screen on both the home page and on menu pages. You can choose between 12 hour and 24 hour format.

9 stars out of 10.

Nook Review – Language Support

This is the extent of Nook’s language support -

  1. Nook supports most Western European languages – including English (obviously), German, Spanish, and French. 
  2. Nook does not support non-western alphabets.
  3. You can read PDFs in different languages (including Chinese, Japanese and other character sets) using embedded fonts.

 7 out of 10 stars.

Nook Review – the Nice to Have eReader functions

Reviewing the Nook’s Looks

 The Nook does well in terms of looking good -

  1. B&N have used a good case design and a good color scheme to make the Nook look good.
  2. The dual screen layout looks really good.
  3. The color touchscreen’s Cover Flow feature is beautiful to look at. 
  4. There are more customization options than any other eReader (custom screensavers, back covers in addition to covers and cases).

Nook gets 8 out of 10 stars on looks.

General Internet Access

At the moment there is no browser on the Nook. It’s a strange decision and hopefully B&N change their stance and add Internet access to the Nook soon.

There is a rather complicated hack that lets you run a browser via the Nook’s Android OS – However, it negates your warranty and is not recommended unless you’re very tech savvy.

3 stars out of 10 for Internet Access.

Nook Review – Color Screen

Nook still uses a black and white eInk screen but having a color touchscreen is at least a step in the right direction.

Incomplete Grade.

Text to Speech and Speech to Text

Nook doesn’t include Text to Speech.

We have only two eReaders supporting Text to Speech at the moment - It really is a feature that more and more eReaders ought to adopt.

Nook gets an Incomplete grade.

Journal Feature

Not present in the Nook. To be fair, there is no eReader at the moment that has a Journal feature.

Nook Review – Extensions and Utilities

 The Nook has already been hacked and hackers have been able to -

  1. Add on a browser that works when WiFi Internet is available.
  2. Enable Pandora music streaming service via WiFi.
  3. Create a software hack that anyone can use. It gives users root access to the Nook.

If B&N open up the Nook to such extensions they’ll get an easy 9 stars out of 10. At the moment this is risky as it voids the warranty so it’s just 6 stars out of 10.

Games & Diversions

The Nook doesn’t ship with any built-in games.

Allowing 3rd party apps would lead to lots of games being added for the Nook - B&N have said that they are open to the possibility.

At the moment Nook gets an Incomplete Grade on this.

Nook Review – Background Music

The Nook has a pretty decent audio player -

  1. You can circle forward or backward through songs.
  2. You can shuffle songs.
  3. You can choose between playlists.
  4. You can adjust the volume. 
  5. You can access the audio player on the color touchscreen without having to leave your book or newspaper.

The controls are well designed and Nook gets 7 out of 10 stars for music support.

Device Lock and Lost & Found Feature for the Nook

There isn’t a device lock feature and there is no obvious feature that would help recover a lost device.

Nook’s Settings section does have the owner’s name and email address and perhaps people will be able to use that.

Nook gets an Incomplete Grade on this.

Nook Personalization and Customization

Nook has a pretty decent range of customizations -

  1. Set your own images as screensavers.
  2. Swap out the back cover for something you prefer.
  3. Lots of range in Covers and Cases.
  4. 3 Fonts to choose from.

On customization, the Nook gets a solid 8 out of 10 stars.

Nook Review – Overall 8 stars out of 10, Recommended

The overall Nook Review Grade is 8 stars out of 10. This is based on -

  1. 9 stars out of 10 on the indispensable eReader features. 
  2. 7.5 stars out of 10 on the hugely important eReader features. 
  3. 7 stars out of 10 on the Nice to Have features.

The Nook was overrated before it came out (it’s not a 10) and it’s underrated now (it’s not a 6). The Nook video review and the in-depth Nook review clearly show that the Nook is a pretty decent eReader. 

The Kindle is the best available eReader and the Nook is not too far behind – The Kindle 2 Review rates the Kindle and helps explain why the Kindle is a better ereader.

B&N rushed the Nook to market and released a 75% baked product. They are now releasing software updates to fix bugs that shouldn’t have been there at all.

Almost every Nook Review has pointed to the lack of polish of Nook’s software as its main flaw. Walt Mossberg’s review and recommendation expresses it best - If you decide to get the Nook, wait until the bugs are fixed.

6 Responses

  1. As always, an extensive and well-thought article and review. I say the following as constructive criticism and not as a complaint, because I think others may feel the same way and I really, really like your blog.

    I had to stop watching the video half-way through as it was uncomfortable. Focusing at short distances is difficult but when trying to show the clarity or otherwise of an eReader screen, it’s pretty crucial. Perhaps if you used a tripod and brought the screen to the camera instead of trying to juggle with both. If you are able to switch off auto-focus and practice with set distances for the correct view, this might solve the problem.

    Having said that, even without the video, the work you put into your posts is evident, valuable and highly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. I think the most important feature of the Nook, its support for open formats, is not being emphasized enough. Likewise, Kindle’s proprietary format, makes me reluctant to buy one. What happens to my investment in ebooks in the Kindle proprietary format when multiple ereader options become available over the next several years? It limits me to buying another Kindle. Also having wifi is important if cell phone service coverage is poor.

    • How is the Nook that much better when switch11′s review says that Nook ebooks can’t be read on a Sony Reader and its ebooks still have DRM? Aren’t your choices also limited if you buy a library of Nook ebooks?

      • I don’t think necessarily so since it appears that Barnes and Noble will be offering other ereaders other than their own access to their online bookstore. The Que line of ereaders from Plastic Logic will be using and supported by the Barnes and Noble online bookstore. I am guessing others will line up with Barnes and Noble also to compete against Amazon. Finally, you can buy from multiple stores offering the epub or pdf formats or even check out online books from the local library. I don’t believe these are available options on Kindle.

  3. [...] Bugs make Nook a wait and see Posted on December 29, 2009 by switch11 Finally have a detailed Nook Review up and there were two big [...]

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