Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight evaluation: a lot improved, however the competitors continues to be profitable

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

There’s quite a bit to be stated for being first. Barnes & Noble beat the competitors to the punch with the Nook Easy Contact with GlowLight — an e-reader with constructed-in entrance lighting. And although we busted the corporate’s chops almost about its claims of retaining marriages collectively, the function actually did really feel like the subsequent massive step ahead for e-readers. Naturally, then, Amazon and Kobo launched comparable choices quickly after, with entrance lighting that frankly blew the Nook out of the water. As these corporations additional iterated their strains, Barnes & Noble maintained radio silence, one thing many chalked as much as troubles with its hardware division.

A yr and a half after the discharge of its final reader, the GlowLight has lastly returned with an abbreviated identify and an improved function set. The brand new Nook GlowLight ($119) encompasses a revised design, weighs noticeably lower than its predecessor and, most notably, brings an improved entrance mild. However whereas it ushers in some welcome tweaks, the lack of the Easy Contact identify additionally marks the abandonment of some beloved options that helped set the road aside within the first place.

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Barnes & Noble

Nook GlowLight

Execs

  • Light-weight
  • A lot-improved frontlight
  • Higher show than final time

Cons

  • No extra bodily web page buttons
  • The microSD slot has been eliminated
  • Frontlighting nonetheless not on par with the competitors

Abstract

The GlowLight has a a lot nicer show than the final-gen mannequin, however different e-readers nonetheless supply higher screens. Within the meantime, too, the GlowLight has misplaced some defining options like a microSD slot and bodily web page flip buttons.

Hardware

Barnes & Noble has all the time scored factors by holding issues totally different. As most of its competitors moved towards a utilitarian black, rectangular design, the Nook Easy Contact has remained tailor-made for the bodily act of studying. For the previous few iterations, the corporate’s flagship readers have been stubby, matte grey affairs that put perform over type. Certainly, you’ll be able to see echoes of the Easy Contact line, although Barnes & Noble dropped “Easy Contact” from the identify. The absolutely rounded corners are intact right here, making it extra snug to press the reader into your palm. The truth that it is shed a great deal of weight helps, as nicely. The brand new Nook weighs a scant 6.2 ounces, a powerful drop from 7 ounces on the final Easy Contact. It is also lighter than the brand new Kindle Paperwhite, which weighs 7.three. All informed, it is remarkably mild. We have been even a bit stunned once we picked it up; the reader weighs about the identical as a mass-market paperback.

The corporate’s shaved a couple of fractions of an inch off the system, too — right down to zero.forty two inch from zero.forty seven. On the similar time, it stored the peak and width the identical at 6.5 x 5 inches. That is thanks in no small half to the retention of sizable bezels that provides you with a spot to relaxation your thumb whereas studying so you do not by accident set off a web page activate the touchscreen. Sadly, nevertheless, the bodily web page-flip buttons have bitten the mud. We requested a Barnes & Noble rep why the corporate opted to tug the plug on one of many Nook’s extra distinguishing bodily traits and did not get a passable reply — only a sense that that they had outstayed their welcome as remnants of a time earlier than E Ink touchscreens. A bummer, that.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

The Nook has, nevertheless, held onto the trademark “n” button that graces the decrease bezel on all of B&N’s units, serving as each a house button and a set off for the entrance mild (once you maintain it down). The latter is a pleasant use of a entrance-and-middle button, eliminating the necessity to fumble by means of the gadget’s contact interface to mild issues up, although it does introduce the danger of getting the sunshine activate by accident in your bag. This can occur to you sooner or later. Rely on it. For what it is value, Barnes & Noble claims that given the beneficiant battery life, unintentional triggers aren’t truly an enormous deal.

Some beauty modifications: The Easy Contact’s acquainted darkish grey coloring is gone now, traded in for white, which the corporate believes will show much less distracting than the competitors’s black frames when positioned towards the pale, glowing display. Truthfully, we will not say we cared a method or one other. We do, nevertheless, recognize the delicate mild grey of the “Nook” emblem on the highest bezel — a pleasant change from Amazon’s more and more aggressive strategy to system branding.

A light-weight grey rubber bumper runs across the perimeter of the reader. The rep who confirmed us the gadget initially would not go as far as to make use of the phrase “rugged” (he in all probability did not need to encourage drop testing), however instructed that the bumper may make the reader extra sturdy. The facility button has been moved to the left aspect of the reader, and is far smaller and thinner than the one which used to take a seat on the again of the Easy Contact units. Barnes & Noble made this transfer in order that customers would not by accident flip the reader off. Even so, we watched an worker by chance hit the button on the brand new reader a couple of occasions whereas taking the elective cowl on and off. Life is filled with commerce-offs. Ending up our tour, the micro-USB port is situated on the underside, because it was earlier than.

A fast scan across the sides reveals a obtrusive omission: the microSD slot. That is proper, Barnes & Noble has put the kibosh on expandable reminiscence right here. We’ll admit that we did not actually apply it to our previous Nooks — the constructed-in reminiscence and cloud storage have us just about coated. Nonetheless, it is a bummer to see the corporate abandon one other function that helped set its choices aside from the Kindle. All’s not misplaced, although. You won’t be capable of outfit your reader with 32GB, however the firm has no less than expanded the interior storage to 4GB (2.5 gigs of which you will truly be capable of use). That is twice that what each the Paperwhite and final-gen Nook have to supply.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

The rear cowl is fairly minimal, partially as a result of that energy button’s been shifted to a unique a part of the system. Additionally gone, sadly, is the concave floor — yet one more distinction that made B&N’s earlier readers conform properly to the hand. The Nook GlowLight continues to be snug sufficient to carry, however as a marathon reader, I am in favor of any design choice that improves the ergonomics. With these two options gone, the rear is a stark, white delicate-contact panorama damaged up solely by a big, indented lowercase “n” within the middle and a small, mild grey Nook emblem and the usual FCC high-quality print on the underside.

The processor velocity stays the identical at 800MHz, which has since been outdone by the Kindle’s new 1GHz chip. Rated battery life stays the identical too, even when Barnes & Noble has adjusted its claims from “two months” to “eight weeks.” This time, the corporate can also be claiming that it is best to have the ability to take pleasure in that type of runtime even when the entrance mild is on (on the default setting, thoughts). That utilization is predicated on half-hour of studying time a day, with the WiFi switched off.

Show

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

The 6-inch type issue has dominated the e-reader market. It isn’t for a scarcity of innovation, although. Others have experimented with bigger and smaller screens, solely to seek out little greater than area of interest success. Six inches will probably proceed to stay the candy spot for these E Ink units. Certainly, Barnes & Noble has caught to its weapons right here. Additionally unsurprising: the corporate has bumped up the reader’s display density from 167 pixels per pinch to the business-normal 212 ppi and introduced the decision to 1,024 x 758 (consider, in fact, that each one e-reader producers are working with very comparable — if not wholly the identical — merchandise from E Ink). Positive sufficient, the display is sharper right here — a lot in order that it is now on par with the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Aura. If you need issues to be actually sharp, you will need to take a better take a look at Kobo’s 265-ppi Aura HD, however for the overwhelming majority of readers, the GlowLight’s Pearl E Ink show ought to be adequate.

This newest E Ink show brings couple of further modifications. For starters, picture ghosting has been lowered — a welcome enchancment for these studying picture-heavy information like manga or PDFs. Additionally, because it did on the Kobo Aura, E Ink has managed to get rid of these pesky full-web page refreshes, which used to return each half-dozen pages or so. Additionally a lot appreciated. You’ll, nevertheless, see a full-black flash on the show when the reader performs duties like transitioning from the house display to a textual content web page. Unusually, Barnes & Noble is the one one of many huge three e-reader producers that has but to graduate to capacitive contact. As an alternative, the corporate has caught with infrared, which suggests contact is not fairly as correct. For those who’ve used the final couple of Nook readers, nevertheless, you realize the know-how principally will get the job finished.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

On reflection, the Nook Easy Contact with GlowLight felt a bit rushed; it was as if the corporate sacrificed sure elements of its entrance-lighting know-how with a purpose to guarantee it beat its rivals to market. As novel as that entrance mild appeared on the time, the arrival of superior shows from Amazon and Kobo made the issues in Barnes & Noble’s system all of the extra obvious — the bluish tinge and the widely spotty nature of protection. It took a bit longer than anticipated, however the Nook line lastly has a response within the type of the brand new GlowLight.

By each measure, the display is vastly improved. The sunshine appears whiter and protection is far more even than earlier than. It is nonetheless not fairly there, although. Since Kobo and Kindle have had an additional era to good and tweak their very own merchandise, B&N nonetheless hasn’t fairly caught up. Particularly, there is a seen mild supply (the hole required for infrared know-how could also be considerably in charge right here) and usually uneven protection on the prime, leading to a barely off-colour tinge. It possible will not hassle most readers — notably those that’ve grown accustomed to studying on the final-era Nook — however those that’ve hung out with the newest Paperwhite or Kobo could also be bothered by the imperfect mild distribution.

Software program

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

Barnes & Noble patted itself on the again for streamlining the Nook’s software program. As a lot as decision and pixel density have been improved over the previous couple of years, these merchandise merely aren’t designed to deal with numerous pictures directly. Alongside the highest of the house web page, you will discover buttons for returning to your most just lately learn textual content and notifications (which so far in our studying expertise have been restricted to barely pushy recommendations that we share our studying expertise with buddies), together with the time, WiFi sign, battery life and an icon for adjusting the entrance lighting.

Half of the house web page is dedicated to Studying Now, which shows the covers of the final three books you’ve got opened, the newest of which is bigger than the remaining and has your progress displayed. Under this, there’s Now on Nook, which shows a variety from its retailer and fairly a little bit of white area. We might choose to have the complete web page dedicated to studying alternatives, however hey, Barnes & Noble has to promote some books, proper? Under this can be a hyperlink to your library, search and the e-e-book store. The de-cluttering is much more obvious within the store, the place the choices have been grouped classes and extra white area has been included all through, making it a lot simpler to seek out your method across the place.

As for the studying expertise, issues have not modified a lot. You will see the title on the prime of the web page once you first open a ebook. In any other case, the web page is just about all textual content, save for the underside, the place you will see your web page quantity and the e-book’s complete web page rely. Faucet this space and the title, time and icons for the GlowLight and battery life will pop up on the highest. Alongside the underside are squares for the guide’s contents, search and textual content. Sadly, you continue to cannot regulate the font by pinching to zoom.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

Faucet by way of the menu and you will see seven totally different font sizes, six types and three choices for each line spacing and margins. There’s additionally an choice to go together with the writer’s default settings. The choice pales compared to what Kobo gives, however odds are you’ll discover one thing to your liking. Maintain down on textual content and you will see choices for highlighting, including notes, consulting Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, and sharing issues over e-mail, Fb and Twitter. When highlighted, a dialog bubble pops up briefly on the prime, displaying your choice, as nicely.

Barnes & Noble has usually taken a “much less is extra” strategy to software program this time round, avoiding most bells and whistles. Many hardcore readers will recognize the give attention to the studying expertise, although current software program upgrades from its rivals spotlight what a couple of additional options can add to the expertise. Amazon, for instance, is doing fascinating issues with X-Ray and Goodreads, whereas Kobo’s certainly gained over some new followers with the addition of Pocket integration.

Wrap-up

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight review: much improved, but the competition is still winning

It took a yr and a half, however the brand new Nook is lastly right here. So was it well worth the wait? Type of. When you gave up and purchased a brand new Kindle or Kobo, we will not say we blame you — and also you in all probability do not remorse your buy, both. However in the event you’ve been holding out as a Barnes & Noble devotee, you possibly can relaxation assured that is the perfect Nook but. It is also pretty priced: at $119, it is $forty cheaper than the Aura, and prices the identical as the brand new Kindle Paperwhite (and even that prices extra if you would like it with out advertisements).

The brand new GlowLight is lighter than its predecessor with a sharper, higher-lit show, although that entrance lighting nonetheless has a methods to go to meet up with the competitors. It is also unhappy to see bits just like the concave again and bodily web page-flip buttons disappear with this improve. Barnes & Noble nonetheless has a little bit of a bonus with its bodily shops, which supply Nook customers free in-retailer WiFi and system assist. Even so, the corporate’s going to should deliver some actual innovation on the hardware and software program entrance if it needs to proceed to be a participant.

Edgar Alvarez and Daniel Orren contributed to this evaluate.

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Barnes & Noble

Nook GlowLight