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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Review: Barnes & Noble’s GlowLight Nook Leaves Kindle Playing Catch-Up

The biggest complaint about eReaders since Day 1 has been the fact that you can’t read them in the dark.  Now, normally I’m the first to call out such complaints as poorly informed since they tend to involve comparisons between E Ink Kindles and LCD alternatives.  Apparently that will no longer be an important distinction soon.  The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has begun shipping ahead of schedule and should already be in the hands of many of the earliest preorder customers.

Now that there are actual devices available for review it is possible to make a more informed comparison.  We can start with the Nook Simple Touch that we already know and love.  The differences between the two models are minimal.  The new incarnation has a gray border around the outer edge of the device, but it is otherwise hard to tell them apart.  It apparently has an screen protector to reduce glare laminated to the display, but this does not reduce clarity in any significant way even in side by side comparisons.  There is no essential loss involved in the addition of the new technology.

What you gain by going with the GlowLight version of the Nook Simple Touch is fairly impressive.  Any other additions aside, the lighting feature is the important part.  It is not, as some have claimed, an example of back-lit E Ink.  The new Nook uses a type of LED-lit front-lighting to spread the illumination evenly without causing any significant increase in eye strain.  Unlike the situation for many reading on something like the Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire, there will be no noticeable discomfort due to the light even after hours of extended use.  It also does not drain the battery in a shocking fashion.  While I have not had a chance to map out the exact side by side comparisons in battery life with the original Nook Simple Touch, the drain from the GlowLight feature seems to pale in comparison to the WiFi connectivity that comes standard in every device.

There are downsides, as always, but in this case they are minimal.  The extra forty dollars added to a $99 eReader is a fairly big jump, but the expanded number of potential use environments will likely more than make up for that in the eyes of many.  There is currently no option to get this model with 3G connectivity or integrated audio.

The Kindle has a lot of catching up to do.  While they still have what is arguably the best eBook selection on the net, this development puts Amazon way behind in terms of hardware features.  Nothing that has happened since the release of E Ink Pearl has been more important to the development of the eReader as a product and we can only hope that Amazon gets their front-lit Kindle in production and ready for sale as soon as possible.  In the meantime, the Kindle might honestly not be the best option for new users regardless of how much nicer the integrated store is than the Nook’s.

Coming Soon: An E-Ink Kindle You Can Read In The Dark

When it comes to reading devices like the Kindle, E Ink displays are both the primary draw and the biggest marketing problem.  On the one hand they allow for insanely long battery life and a reading experience as easy on the eyes as any paperback.  On the other, they offer little advantage besides that ease of reading since the opaque nature of E Ink means that even optional lighting has not been possible before now.

Recent reports coming out of Seattle indicate that the next generation of Kindles will finally have built in lighting.  While we have not had a chance to actually play with any, the technology reportedly being employed will involve front-lighting of some sort that can be controlled through the system’s menus.  This both gets around the problematic opaqueness of the E Ink material and avoids doing so in such a way as to produce eye strain like that found when reading on an LCD.

This will be the first big step forward for either the Kindle or eReaders in general in quite some time.  For the most part, the only think that differentiates the Kindle from its competition at this point is the integration with Amazon’s Kindle Store.  Other than that the Nook Simple Touch is the slightly superior device and even the less well known competition is close enough to be comparable.  E Ink Pearl has just been around for long enough that everybody who is interested has managed to adopt it.

Now it is definitely cool that we will be able to do our Kindle reading in dark or poorly lit rooms after all this time.  It is even cooler to discover that it won’t have tradeoffs that negate the point of owning a Kindle instead of or in addition to a tablet.  Most exciting for me, though, is what this means for the generation beyond what we’ll see this year.

The major shortcoming of color eReaders using displays like E Ink Triton are that, unless the lighting is close to ideal, the colors are washed out and dull.  Once Amazon has some experience with including front lighting and has the implementation of a lighting layer down, there is no reason to think that they would have trouble adjusting to meet the needs of color displays.  This would probably result in having a color/monochrome toggle that insisted on turning the lighting on any time you wanted your Kindle to pull up a magazine, but it would still completely change the color eReading marketplace and eliminate the need for LCD reading tablets.

All reports indicate that the newest Kindle generation is still in development phases while the company works on things like weight, battery life, and light quality.  Even so, it is safe to assume that the Kindle 5 will show up before the end of the year.  Should the Agency Model be eliminated as soon as as we now suspect it might be, Amazon will almost certainly celebrate that fact with a huge push in the product line.  The coinciding release of a glow-in-the-dark Kindle would round that out nicely.