Having ordered two nooks (one already received) and another due right before Christmas, I am now second guessing my decision to buy this product. The feature list should have been a Kindle 2 killer – PDF Support, Lending Books, Color LCD, at the bottom of the display….. However speaking from owning a Kindle 2 and selling it the day the nook was announced might have been a mistake. Especially after several reviews that mostly trashed the nook. I decided to head over to a Barnes and Noble store to see one in person to see if what I was reading was true. By far the worst review I read/watched was from NY Times’ David Progue, but I also read some fairly decent reviews from WSJ, Money, and several technology blogs including CNET.
So with all of these comments (mostly negative) in mind, I tried to approach the very helpful lady and nook staring at me behind the nook display with an open mind. What I found to my surprise is that the nook actually faired better in my hands and opinion (a lot better) then what I had seen and read online.
I found the display to be easier on the eyes with the darker ink then my Kindle 2 was, and the form factor and the color LCD looks brilliant together and its extra weight actually felt like quality high-end product then “made in China” junk. The color LCD provided a beautiful way to navigate the OS and to me gave the nook more of a premium “iPhone” device feel to it instead of a plastic toy feel with pre-school buttons like the Kindle 2 keyboard. The menu options made sense to me and I was able to browse books, look at the store, buy a book, and open up sample PDF’s.
The so called “formatting issue” is definitely there but it was not as bad as I had read it to be and when I asked the nook lady about it, she explained that since each book has it’s own set of font’s embedded in the file the nook has to truly format the book for the device. So when I think about it that way, it actually is a step forward and brilliant because each book can choose it’s own font and control it’s appearance. That (to the best of my knowledge) is not something the Kindle 2 did so there was never any formatting that needed to be done. Additionally this only happened the first time you loaded the book, and then on subsquently going to the book it just jumped right in like Kindle does. I suspect that with this capability of rending when the document is opened actually provides for a better reading experience and more accurate representation of a book or diagram (thinking PDF). While a little slow it was not something that would make me walk away from this device.
With regard to horrible “page turning experiences” it was slightly slower from what I remembered with the Kindle 2 but again nothing as bad as I had read. The ability to browse the store worked well and buying a book or magazine (in my base PC Mag) worked well, putting them into a queue and automatically notified me when they were done downloading. Overall right on par with the Kindle 2.
Concerning battery life – “David Progue – Please stand up so I can slap you” – His statement 7 days Kindle 2 verse 2 days nook, is a complete mis-representation. The nook will last 10 days with just the book and 3G Wireless turned on, if you leave WIFI on it drops to 2 days. There really is no reason to leave WIFI on unless your hanging out at a Barnes and Noble store and if so it is very easy to go into the color LCD and turn the WIFI on as needed. Additionally the fact that the nook does not have a browser – well get over it. The Kindle 2 had one – it was a joke and besides. I have an iPhone a MacBookPro if I really want to surf the web, i’m certainly not going to do it on an e-reader!
After spending almost an hour playing with the nook at the Barnes and Noble store I feel I could easily lose the nook in my hands, the page turning experience and the buttons to turn pages felt natural and unobtrusive to me. The color LCD quickly disappears out of site and the backlight goes out quickly so it just melts away from being distracting to your eyes. Being a Kindle user since the original Kindle came out what 2 years ago – well the user interface experience is completely different on the nook and I kept trying to approach this device like a kindle. Once I got around that I found the UI to be very easy to use and self explanatory. Barnes and Noble – if your reading this – Do yourself a favor – Create a “Getting to know your nook video” that walks the user through the most common functions or using the nook coming form the Kindle. Just a thought.
The device does show it’s 1.0 heritage in the software and I do agree that you can “build up a series of commands” so that you watch while your nook is off doing anything but what you intended. While I can see this could become very annoying, being aware of this is half the battle. I would like to think that between Android 2.0 and nook software updates this issue will pass.
I did ask about the “Book Lending Issue” and the helpful B&N lady was right there to explain that the company plans had really fallen victim of the publishers and they were still working on this. So let’s just hope that with time these restrictions get relaxed because it’s really is a great idea and was a selling point to me.
So now with this information and some time to play with a nook in my hands – did I make the wrong decision? – Absolutely not! I have to say that this device is getting a lot of unfair press and poor reviews, which is really too bad and unfair. I would encourage anyone who like me was second guessing themselves to find a Barnes and Noble store and check it out. I also have to give wonderful kudos to my new friend the “nook lady” at the store. She was super friendly, knew her product in and out, and was completely up to speed on what was being said about this new device, and was able to talk openly about the reviews and provide me solid explanations. With this new information in hand, Christmas is now feeling just that much further away and I once again feel like that 10 year old boy, I once was.