20 Minutes with the Nook

2010 is shaping up to be the year that media consumption tablets go mainstream. In fact, according to Amazon, the Kindle already has. Obviously, most of our current attention is focused on the iPad… and Macmillan jacking eBook prices by 50%. (Which is probably unsustainable, despite their hopes.) But a co-worker received a Nook ($259) for Christmas, and I asked her to bring it in so I could examine it outside the confines of a tradeshow floor or Barnes & Noble, proper.

First off, as you can clearly see, the Nook is far more physically attractive than the Kindle ($259). Beyond the 6″ E Ink display, it also quite cleverly integrates a color capacitive touchscreen to handle interaction. However, as many have noted (including our resident e-book expert) the initial software is way too slow. I can overlook the blinky E Ink page refreshes, but the boot times and tap-to-wait is a killer. Which makes me appreciate the simple competence of the Kindle even more. The hardware nav buttons on the Nook require more pressure than Kindle’s, and maybe more than I’d like. But it probably results in fewer inadvertent page turns. Of course, Barnes & Noble’s not-so-secret weapon is digital book lending… should the publishers universally (or mostly) get on board with it. But if/once they do, you can bet Amazon will likewise implement similar functionality.

Regardless, single function devices like the Kindle and Nook will need to come in lower given Apple’s aggressive iPad pricing.  (Better yet, follow in Audible’s footsteps to give away units in exchange for a book subscription plan.) And support richer, more complex content… As newspaper and periodical presentation and interaction could be greatly enhanced. If either of these guys drop to $199 and provide an RSS reader (say 10 subs on the house, without additional download fees) or introduce a $99 – $129 non-cellular model, I’d buy a pair. And a few as gifts. Otherwise, I’m staying on the sidelines until the path forward is a bit more clear.

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9 thoughts on “20 Minutes with the Nook”

  1. I forgot to mention I really like Mary’s case. Other than being bright pink and orange. With the Nook tucked in, it’s got good heft – it feels solid, like a book, but still compact. And it’s this sort of padded leather. Very nice. (This is probably the one time you’ll see me review Kate Spade accessories.)

    Also, it was a little discombobulating to jump between the nav touchscreen and non-touchscreen E Ink section. But I assume I’d get used to that. The brighter touchscreen kindly goes dark after a few seconds so as to not distract while reading.

  2. Looking ahead to the price reduction mentioned in the post, B&N are in a good position to do so since they pay $0.00 to license the operating system (Android) and they inherit any innovation written by third party developers, or the Android dev team at Google, for free.


    Kindle and iPad are both closed OSes with all the costs and limitations therein.

  3. Hey Dave… 1.1.1 makes the nook MUCH more responsive, both in LCD responsiveness and a reduced page turn time, but there are significant bugs left, such as losing your place in a book when it reboots after a complete battery discharge. Also, the Amazon shopping interface is superior at this point, with an easier way to find related content and browse by sub-categories. nook is more of a view the best seller list or do a search type store, which I’m sure they will change.

    I write about eReaders daily now, if anybody is interested, click on my name above.

  4. Yes, what Scott Lewis said. It sounds like your co-worker hasn’t upgraded to 1.1.1 which is much faster and better.
    I’ve had my Nook for about a month and my only complaint is that I don’t see how to use subdirectories when I’m finding a book. The Nook allows you to organize your eBooks with subdirectories but then just presents everything in one long list – I might be missing something. Since the Nook uses the Android OS (and has even been rooted) I’m hoping it will be improved soon.

  5. Scott, Ned – I can’t be sure what OS she was running yesterday, but it’s on 1.1.1 today here in front of me. Still seems slow, although it hasn’t locked up on me again yet.

  6. Come on, Mary – don’t you read my Twitter feed? ;) Sounds like they’ve streamlined some UI elements.But mostly looking forward to seeing if it speeds up your nook.

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