Review: Barnes and Noble nook eReader

Recently, I purchased the Barnes & Noble nook eReader...

March 23rd, 2010 at 6:00am — Comments: (0) — By: Jonathan Danylko — Tags: Gadgets

Barnes and Noble nook

...and after owning it for a little over a month, this would be great time to discuss this outstanding device.

Overview

Let's start with the specs of the eReader. The Barnes & Noble nook is compact at a height of 7.7 inches and 4.9 inches wide. The depth of the nook is just half an inch and weighs just 12.1 ounces.

The nook uses a technology called eInk® Vizplex™ electronic paper. The eInk display area occupies the top 2/3 of the device while the bottom 1/3 of the device is the touch screen.

The touch screen is how the user interacts with the device where the eInk is just for display purposes. Unfortunately, the eInk area on the nook does not offer a touch screen interface like other eReader devices on the market. The small touch screen strip near the bottom of the display is the only place where you can interact with the nook.

At first glance, you'll notice four buttons that flank each side of the eInk display area (two back and two forward buttons). These four buttons are used to turn your "digital pages" and move through lists of either your books in your library or books through Barnes & Noble websites.

The nook doesn't support any type of color display in the eInk area, but shows shades of gray instead.

File Formats

The nook supports the following eBook file formats: EPUB, PDB, and PDF. The nook also supports the following image formats:JPG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. Along with the eBook formats and graphic images, you can also add MP3 formats for your library for listening to classical music, podcasts, or audio books.

If you do transfer image files over to the nook, make sure that they follow these dimensions and type:

For an image type of...
...Images need to be:
Wallpaper 600x760 & 4-bit grayscale (16 colors)
Screen Saver 600x800 & 4-bit grayscale (16 colors)

I'll discuss this feature a little later.

Connectivity

The nook comes with either a 3G option or a WiFi option. I personally went with the WiFi model. At most locations, you're more than likely to connect to a WiFi hotspot as well as use 3G services. Besides, there are times when I really don't want to be connected while reading.

The great thing about the nook is that no matter where you are (depending on your connection, 3G or WiFi), you can browse through Barnes & Noble's library of over a million books. When you found the right book, purchase it and download immediately. My problem is that it's a little too easy to buy the books.

There were times when I would find a book online and then head up to the brick-and-mortar (physical) store and look for that book, then purchase it. Now, all I do is search for the ebook using my eReader and download it. Barnes & Noble at my fingertips.

One feature I love about the nook is the ability to show the covers of the books and scroll through them like you were at the store. If you want to read a sample of the ebook, just select the ebook and immediately download a sample of the book.

Storage

Now, if you are looking for storage, the nook can definitely hold a ton of books.

When I was looking over the nook, I needed an eReader that would expand to the number of PDF and EPUB titles that I've purchased. Out of the box, the nook comes with 2GB (approximately 1500 eBooks) and has a microSD slot. The microSD slot can hold up to 16GB of data.

When connecting your nook to your PC, it will appear as an extra drive with the following folders available to you:

Barnes & Noble nook folders

Above, I spoke about the file folders of screen savers and wallpapers. Copy your images into each appropriate folder and disconnect. Go into your settings on your nook and select your images for your screen saver and wallpapers.

As you can see, all of the folders are properly named for copying files to and from your nook onto your PC or USB device.

nook Accessories

The accessories are available at either "Class A" Barnes & Noble stores or available online. Some of the accessories are a little pricey.

One of the accessories I had to buy was a cover for my nook. I had two options to protect my nook. I either had to get the film that would cover the eInk area and touch screen or I would need a portfolio-style cover or a sleeve for my nook. I purchased the portfolio style cover as opposed to the sleeve. I am definitely content with my decision.

Along with the covers and screen protectors, they even sell the little lights for the nook as well as rechargeable batteries and microSD cards. My solution is to go through a deal website and find a 4GB microSD for $10-$15.

Problems and Trade-offs

We are now in a digital age. I understand that eBooks are the way to go, but along with that digital age comes RSS feeds and blogs.

One of the downsides I've seen with this device is no ability to connect to the Internet and view the latest news. I understand Barnes & Noble would rather deliver the news through the subscription-based services they offer.

Another issue is something that other people make me aware of when I show off the nook. Some people wonder why the nook flashes when I turn a page or the eInk updates the screen. I tell them that is just the nature of the beast. I've grown accustomed to it and accepted that this is how eInk works.

Summary

The Barnes & Noble nook is priced at $259. Out of the box, the nook provides an exceptional reading experience by wirelessly attaching their device to their brick and mortar stores. This is something that Amazon cannot provide with their Kindle which puts Barnes and Noble out in front in my eyes.

Later this week, I will post some additional resources to make your Barnes and Noble nook sing and dance.

UPDATE: Well, it seems that Sony just dropped their prices on some of their eReaders to make things more interesting in the eReader market.

Do you have a Barnes & Noble nook? How do you like it? Post you comments below.

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Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes doing in his spare time, he answers..."programming."

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