Monday, November 22, 2010


I've so far neglected to mention it here, but I got a Nook!

Compared to the Sony Reader that I've had for a few years now, this is a huge improvement. I'll start with the most visible difference - while the Reader has buttons numbered 1-10 plus a few more for navigation, the Nook has a color touchscreen. They use it with the main E-Ink screen fairly effectively, too - the interface is generally divided between them sanely, with stuff being displayed on the big screen, and all the controls on the touchscreen.

The E-Ink screen on the Nook is noticeably better than the one on the Sony Reader. The contrast is much higher, and the resolution seems a bit better too (though that could also be the font, I guess). The Nook is also much smarter about updating the screen; where the Reader would have to refresh the whole screen with an annoying invert-everything action, the Nook can update individual pixels without disturbing the rest of the display.

The other most important difference is the inclusion of a wireless connection, like the Kindle. I'm pretty impressed by how well this feature works - I can browse the bookstore, buy a book, and download it to the device within a span of a few minutes. (Browsing over a cellular internet connection is a bit sluggish, though. If you can, it's much easier to buy the books through the B&N website.) There's also a WiFi-only version, but I think that's not as much fun. WiFi can be hard to find, and it's nice to be able to get new books from a moving vehicle. As far as ebook pricing goes, I don't have any complaints about the B&N store.

Battery life is a different story. While reading, the battery lasts pretty much forever (and by forever, I mean it should last through any one book, at least that I've found), as expected of an E-Ink device. When you put the device to sleep, though, it only lasts for a few days before needing to be charged. This is pretty disappointing, honestly, and I hope they fix it in a future software update.

Today on my flight to Houston, I brought the Nook and finished The Shallows, which is about how technology is changing our reading habits. (Wooo, irony!) I think I'll be talking more about that in tomorrow's post, but as far as the reading experience goes, it was at least as comfortable as reading a real book. Probably more so, in fact, because the Nook is easier to fit in my bag than the paperback (The Prefect, by Alistair Reynolds; somebody lent it to me and now I need to read it!) I brought along as a backup.

Summary: The Nook is kind of awesome, and I need to finish this post within the next minute or I'm not going to finish in time.

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