NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight Hands-On Review
I pre-ordered the Nook Glowlight from Barnes and Noble a few days before it was released and was surprised when the packaged arrived at my front door a few days early. I wasn’t sure what to expect because this was my first e-reader. A month later, I can say I’m still happy with my purchase.
There are a number of e-readers out there, but I picked the Glowlight because of its indoor/outdoor readability. The Nook Glowlight uses e-ink like other e-readers, but this one also has a built-in lamp function that makes it readable in dark conditions. So far, this is the only e-reader that can be read just as easily in a dark room as it can under the noon sun.
For a little background information, e-readers generally come in one of two styles. You can either get a reader with an e-ink display or a reader with a traditional digital display. E-ink readers use little power, are easy on the eyes and they can be read in bright conditions. Digital displays produce crisp, colorful pictures and can be read at night, but they don’t work as well in daylight conditions.
The Nook Simple Touch Glowlight is the first e-reader that uses e-ink in combination with backlighting that you can toggle on and off. This gives the Glowlight the unique advantage of being just as easy to read outdoors as indoors. For that reason, I chose the Nook Glowlight. Now, let’s get to the review.
The Nook Glowlight runs $139 right now and uses an e-ink display in conjunction with optional backlighting for nighttime reading. Here’s a quick look at the details:
- E-ink display
- Adjustable backlighting
- Weighs 6.95 ounces
- Long lasting battery
- Built-in WiFi
- 6.5 inches long
- 5 inches wide
- .47 inches thick
- 800×600 resolution
- 2 GB internal storage
- MicroSD slot for additional storage
- MicroUSB connector for your computer
- Can read PDF and ePub files
- Can display JPGs, GIFs, PNGs and BMPs
Reading on the Glowlight
The Nook Simple Touch Glowlight is easy on the eyes and it’s just like reading an actual book. I have to stare at a computer monitor every day at work, so it’s nice to give my eyes a break. The e-ink display is low key and feels as comfortable as reading a book. This is probably what I like most about the Nook Glowlight.
The backlight display is nice also. You can activate the Glowlight feature by holding down on the “nook” home key for 2 seconds. Lights at the top of the screen turn and on and give the reader a gentle backlight. The lights are a little brighter at the top of the screen, but once you get into a story, you don’t even notice it.
A dimmer setting allows you to adjust the brightness of the lights. I keep my lights powered at about 50% and it’s perfect. The only reason I would turn the lights even lower is if someone complained about the light. So far, I’ve had no complaints.
A comfortable reading experience was the most important thing for me when I choose this e-reader and I haven’t been disappointed. It took me an evening to get used to reading on a tablet instead of a book, but now I don’t even notice. My eyes never feel strained.
The one thing I don’t like about reading on the Nook is that some pictures are difficult to view and there is no zoom function. Many of the books I read have maps printed on the front couple of pages. It’s always tough for me to see anything on the maps because they are fixed in size and e-ink is not suitable for detailed images.
At just under 7 ounces, the Glowlight is the lightest Nook yet. The reader is encased in a hard rubber material that gives the unit a durable, comfortable feel. The first thing that caught my attention when I pulled the Glowlight out of the box is that it feels very well designed. There are no loose pieces, gaps in the material or anything else that speaks of poor workmanship.
The Nook is about the same size as a very thin paperback book. The Glowlight measures 5 inches across by 6.5 inches long and less than half an inch think. It probably won’t fit in the front pocket of your jeans, but it can go just about anywhere else.
The official Nook website says that the Nook can run for a month on a single charge if you read half an hour a day with the light on. Switch that to 30 minutes a day with no light and you’ll get two months off a single charge. If anything, these estimates are conservative. I’ve had my Glowlight for a month now and I’ve had to charge it exactly once – and that’s with much more than 30 minutes a day of reading.
The Nook Glowlight software works well but the e-ink technology doesn’t make for smooth transitions. When I am typing in my payment information or searching for new books to download, there is some lag between input and it showing up on the screen. However, I consider this a small price to pay for not burning my retinas with a digital display.
Other than that, the software works fine. It’s easy to connect to WiFi hotspots, search for new titles and download them. I was also able to connect the USB cord to my computer and transfer a PDF file that I had saved in my Backblaze account. I just opened my Backblaze folder, opened my Nook as a storage device and dragged the PDF file from my backup folder to my Nook. The PDF file was instantly available in my Nook library.
What the Nook Can’t Do
You can’t jailbreak the Nook and turn it into a cheap iPad that can browse the internet and download apps. It’s a simple system and the graphics are designed primarily for plain text. If you need something full featured, you would be best served with an iPad, rooted Nook Color or rooted Kindle.
The Nook Glowlight does not play videos, steam music or bring games to your lap. It’s a $140 device that you use specifically to read good books. It’s a little pricey for this limited functionality but I love it. I love not having to visit the bookstore to get new reading material and I’ll really love taking this thing with me on vacation this summer.
Final word: if you like to read, you’ll love the Nook Glowlight. It lasts forever on a single charge and it brings good reading wherever you are. It’s light, portable and works just as well in the sun as it does at night.
- Nook GlowLight praised by Macworld (teleread.com)
- B&N’s Nook with GlowLight: Why I Still Use an eInk eReader (jwikert.typepad.com)
- How the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight glows (52tiger.net)