The ranks are closing in on Amazon and the Kindle. Barnes & Noble is currently holding a Mother”s Day Sale on the Nook Simple Touch basic model, and the Nook Color. This is apparently a push on its the less popular models. The sale ends May 12.
Most e-reader fans are more intrigued by the new Nook GlowLight and the Nook Tablet. The GlowLight includes a cool, more readable light that enables readers to still read at night comfortably. It doesn’t cause eye strain or suck up battery life like the LCD tablets do.
So the sale brings the Nook Simple Touch down to $79, and the Nook Color down to $149. Both $20 less than they are normally.
I don’t really see these models as a huge threat to their Kindle counterparts, however, I do think that the Nook Simple Touch at $79 is a better deal than the $79 Kindle, which is not touch screen.
The Kindle Fire is also in more direct competition with the Nook Tablet than the Nook Color. Refurbished Kindle Fires go for $139 occasionally. These offers go quickly, so you have to watch closely, or you’ll miss them.
So, in short, if you’re looking for a bargain and a good gift idea for Mother’s Day, this is a good option to consider.
Barnes & Noble has really ramped up the competition with a backing from Microsoft and with the introduction of a Nook with a built in light. So, it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds.
The leapfrogging between Amazon and its competitors is likely to happen again this year. Usually the Kindle competitors start the new trend of the year, and Amazon picks up on it, and makes an even better product with it. Amazon will come up with its own GlowLight Kindle, and I’m sure this year’s refresh of the whole Kindle line up will go at the price to beat.
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.
While we recently learned that Amazon was planning something new with a front-lit version of the Kindle, Barnes & Noble has gone a step further and launched a lit Nook complete with release date. There’s no reason to think this is anything but a reaction to the leaked info regarding Amazon’s plans, but the fact that they already had a response prepared like this indicates a great deal of foresight. What was already quite possibly the best eReading hardware on the market will be the first to get upgraded for the next generation.
Those familiar with the Nook Simple Touch will also have a good impression of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. They are the same product, as the name might imply. GlowLight, Barnes & Noble’s solution to the problem of reading in poor lighting, has just been added into the existing model with minimal fuss. It doesn’t even get in the way of what have traditionally been the strengths of the un-lit eReader.
The new Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight will still have the same E Ink screen that we’re used to. It will work as well as ever in direct sunlight and any other situation where reading from a paper book would be plausible. The difference now is that holding down the ‘n’ button on the Nook will turn on a set of LEDs along the sides of the display. This provides sufficient light for any situation while avoiding a drastic increase in battery drain.
This upgrade will add an additional $40 to the price tag of the Nook. It is likely more than worth the investment, though. You are getting all of the advantages of E Ink with the conveniences a standard LCD would provide, but supplied in such a way as to be fairly easy on the eyes even when the adjustable lighting is in use. That’s the sort of convenience you really can’t pass up in an eReader.
The Kindle product line is still my preference and the eReader line that I would recommend to anybody I knew personally. That is not so much a matter of hardware superiority at this point, though. If anything, it is a matter of hardware adequacy and highly superior back-end support to shore up the physical product by comparison. There is nothing wrong with the Kindle Touch, per se, but it also doesn’t come with any such compellingly interesting new features.
We know that Amazon will be releasing something similar to GlowLight. Chances are even good that now that B&N has set a May release date for the new Nook, a shiny new Kindle will appear by June. If circumstances surrounding the settlements in the DOJ price fixing investigation didn’t seem likely to offer Kindle owners some truly amazing advantages in the near future, though, this would be the time when Amazon needed to sweat a little over the competition’s superior offering.
The past few months have been interesting for both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. While the former has been enjoying record success in both their eReading efforts and the new Kindle Fire tablet sales however, B&N seems to be having some trouble keeping up with things related to their Nook line. There has even been talk of them spinning off the whole Nook endeavor into its own company due to the high expense of keeping pace in a competitive market. Despite all of this though, and regardless of how it plays out in the larger scheme of things, a lot has been happening that should keep the Nook line a definite consideration for consumers.
Probably the most important factor would be what’s new with the Nook Tablet. While it was always somewhat superior to the Kindle Fire on paper, the experience of using it has generally failed to impress by comparison and certain restrictions on how the end user could manage their data caused a great deal of upset. Recently this has all changed with the announcement of a simple method for rooting the tablet and gaining much greater control over it as a result. All you need now is a MicroSD Card and some freely available software from the guys over at XDA. While for most people’s general uses this still will not necessarily make the Nook Tablet superior to its Kindle competition, it does open up the possibility of finally making the use of the better hardware for those who want to get maximum performance for their money.
The eReader side of things has hardly been left to sit around unnoticed either, of course. There are currently two major bits of information going around specific to this. First, word is out that Barnes & Noble will shortly be announcing the release of their eReaders outside the US for the first time. Most likely this will be in a partnership with UK bookseller Waterstones, if the rumors are to be believed. Some might remember the same company expressing interest in creating its own eReader to compete with the Kindle some months back, so this partnership would be completely in character.
There is also word of a new generation of the Nook already getting set to hit the shelves. It would be difficult to imagine what significant improvements they could have planned over the Nook Simple Touch already given how well it stacks up against the competition (I would argue that if you ignore the differences in integrated stores it is noticeably superior to any of the latest Kindles), but could be an effort to either reduce prices or spring something entirely new on the market. Either way, for the most part these rumors are tied up in claims regarding the Waterstones partnership and should both come to fruition they will likely appear on a similar timeline.
Possibly not the best time in the world to be the company that runs the Nook line, given how heavily Amazon is investing in making the Kindle Fire and Kindle eReaders successful. They’ve done a great job of stepping up to the plate and providing good products despite this, however, and offering superior hardware for the money is always going to serve to draw the attention.
With the knowledge that a new Kindle is on the horizon there are reasons that it might seem to be worth holding back on your new Nook purchase to see what is coming, but is it worth the wait? At present there are a lot of great products on the market and as tempting as it is to wait for the next big thing, there comes a point when holding off gets silly. With that in mind, is it worth the risk, however slight, of picking up what may soon be an inferior product?
The biggest thing to decide right off the bat is what you are looking for in your eReader. Right now, the Nook Simple Touch and Kindle 3 (no matter which type you choose) offer very similar experiences. The best E INK screens available, page refresh far faster than you could reliably turn pages in a paper book, light and comfortable to hold, literally months of battery life, and a direct connection into each’s respective amazingly comprehensive eBook store. Aside from a couple very small particulars, neither one is physically superior to the other.
If you have to choose right now, based on nothing but the hardware, then you’re essentially on even ground with these two. The Nook Simple Touch is newer, slightly faster, has a touchscreen display, and is a couple inches shorter. The Kindle has the option of 3G coverage, a physical keyboard, and external contacts that can power a book light should you be inclined to use such an accessory. None of these factor in much when it comes right down to reading a book under normal circumstances.
There is always the fact that the new Kindle is coming out soon and will certainly have upgrades that make it stand out, but what real point of superiority is going to put it over the top right now? Short of having a non-backlit color screen to make color eBooks a better choice, there isn’t much room to grow. The Kindle 3 is perfect for reading on, in that once you get started you can forget how you’re reading and just concentrate on the book. The new Nook does the same thing just as well. Chances are, the new Kindle will accomplish it again. As much as I’m looking forward to picking up the new model, and would recommend avoiding any Kindle purchases until it comes out since it is only a couple months away at this point, it does not factor into a Kindle vs Nook decision.
The most important thing in deciding is going to be who you want to do business with. As I pointed out recently, it is definitely possible to jump from one platform to another if you have the patience to deal with file conversion. Nobody really wants to bother with that, though. Since pricing and selection are pretty similar no matter where you buy your eBooks right now, there isn’t a compelling reason to go back and forth between them. It is likely that wherever you amass your first collection of eBooks is where you’re going to stay. If Barnes & Noble is the eReader provider for you, don’t let speculation about new Kindles scare you off. There might be some room for the Kindle to advance right now, but to think that it will be enough in the near future to completely knock competition out of the ballpark is a bit far fetched.
So, as many of us have observed, the new Nook Simple Touch Reader was recently rated even higher than the long dominant Kindle by Consumer Reports. This is a big deal for B&N since it makes their eReader really stand out as a superior reading device again after a while of being noticeably behind, but it also works out great for the readers since close competition generally means better products and more software updates. What surprised me a bit was the fact that the new Nook seems to be set up with a few unused features in place and ready to go when they next need to bump up the competition. It’s great to see planning for the future like this.
First, we have the unannounced web browsing capabilities. They never advertised it and nobody really expected it, but the Nook has an incredibly basic browser built right in. The problems it has right now make it clear why it wasn’t advertised. It just does not seem ready for significant use. The interface is clunky and the experience is just generally sub-par even compared to other E Ink devices like the Kindle. There are two ways to interpret this. Either B&N rushed out an unfinished product and didn’t bother to disable that part of the firmware, which is possible for all I know, or what people have managed to access is actually the underlying structure of a more functional browser yet to come. I personally don’t think that the release of the new Nook was meant to have a browser at all. It seems like something Barnes & Noble was holding in reserve for the next time they needed something to trump a Kindle update in some way.
Speaking of things held in reserve, we have also learned that the Nook has unannounced and unused Bluetooth capabilities. I don’t know what to really say about this one. At first, it seemed particularly cool. I mean, actual unused hardware capabilities probably meant to be pulled out for something impressive when the situation calls for it. Maybe that’s even really the case. The problem is that I can’t think of many situations where Bluetooth would come in handy in a reading device. Any ideas? Still, it seems like a good idea in theory, I think.
While it is definitely true that the Nook got to the top for the moment simply by imitating the Kindle and dropping the deadweight of its earlier incarnation’s extras, I would say that there is potential for expansion here if customers decide they want more. For now we have a great reading device that simply falls away and lets you read. Everything the Kindle has been pulling off for a long time now. I love mine. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see, at some point, an opening up of the system in a manner similar to what happened with the Nook Color so that apps can be thrown on. I know that some of the same people who found the Nook’s Bluetooth also managed to do things like get the Kindle for Android app running on it, so the potential is there for more than we have so far.