Nook Simple Touch Review

It has only been a few weeks since the launch of the new Nook Simple Touch Reader by Barnes & Noble, but many have already declared that it may unseat the current top ebook reader – the Amazon Kindle. Supporting a touch screen and a lot fewer buttons, the new Nook is aiming for simplicity, but does simplicity equal a great reading experience? That’s what we intend to find out in this new Nook Simple Touch review.

Nook Simple Touch review

Display

6-inch diagonal

Display Type

Pearl e-ink touchscreen

Size

6.5" x 5" x 0.47"

Weight

7.48 ounces

Battery Life

Up to 2 months

Operating System

Android 2.1 (modified)

Storage

2GB internal memory with micro SD slot

Content Selection

Over 2 million titles

Wi-Fi

Yes

File Formats Supported

EPUB, PDF, Adobe DRM

Book Lending

Yes

Sync Across Devices

Yes

Rating

Much of the buzz generated by B & N’s latest e-ink reader stems mainly from two things: the new compact design and the touch display.

It’s no secret that aside from the Nook Color, Barnes and Noble had previously dabbled in a touch device before with the original e-ink ebook reader (well, part e-ink, part color touchscreen), but the results were less-than-impressive. Now, all signs are pointing to a more successful venture.

The new ebook reader measures 6.5 inches in height, 5 inches in length, and 0.47 inches in thickness and is 6% slimmer and 35% lighter than the previous e-ink version.

It’s also lighter than the Kindle, the latest Kobo Reader, and the Nook Color. Gone is the dual-screen replaced by a 6-inch purely e-ink touch screen display.

Because of its “square-ish” form, it may seem a bit bulky at a glance, but it’s actually super thin and you’d be surprised to find that it fits into the pocket of your jeans.

The black bezel surrounding the display and the back of the device is made of a soft-touch material for a smooth, rubbery feel, giving you a better grip on it.

On the downside though, this type of finish lends easily to finger smudges so consider getting a cover for your Nook if you don’t want to be bothered wiping off the back area every so often.

Touch Screen and Performance

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch stated during the launching of the device that the latest Kindle’s 38 buttons were 37 more than that of the Nook, but the statement is not quite accurate as the new Nook is not a one-button device.

Positioned along the bezel that surrounds the display are five buttons – the Nook “n” logo on the bottom that takes you to the Home screen, and two buttons lined on each side for going from one page to another.

Of course, you can also use swipe gestures to go backwards and forwards in a book but you’d need both hands for that, while the page turn buttons allow you to easily use the device with one hand and even fast-forward to a certain page holding the button down.

Navigation

There’s no QWERTY keyboard like the Kindle, but the pop-up touchscreen keyboard is easy to call whenever you need it and works pretty well.

A screen that supports touch gestures not only brings about a clean, uncluttered look for the Nook. It also allows for easier navigation within a book or one’s collection of books, and within the Nook Store. Reviewers have noted the touch screen as being responsive and zippy. Page turns are quick and there is a noticeable yet welcome absence of the jarring flashes typical of e-ink screens.

This is because the device only totally refreshes a page on the 6th turn. There’s actually a bit of ghosting effect on the screen because of this (page not entirely refreshed) but it’s not bothersome at all and you won’t even notice it when you’re reading.

Fonts are available in 7 different sizes and 6 different styles.

Overall, the interface of the latest Nook Reader is intuitive and you can go from book to book with just a few taps.

The main home screen is where you’ll find the latest book, magazine, or journal you’ve been reading with the page number you last read, and tapping on it will take you right where you left off. On the right side, you’ll see the latest available “reads” while the lower half of the screen shows the books B & N recommends based on your earlier purchases.

All other functions – shopping on the Nook Store, going to your Library, changing Settings, etc – are easily accessible as well from the pop-up menu.

Notable Features

If there’s one feature of the Nook Touch Reader that’s worth writing home about, it’s the battery life.

On a single charge and with the Wi-Fi turned off, the battery can last up to two months, easily doubling that of the Amazon Kindle. For me, not having to think about charging a device for 8 entire weeks (or so) defines the ultimate in portability.

The latest e-ink reader from Barnes & Noble may come in a smaller package, but you still don’t need to worry about being able to store all your books.

The built-in memory of 2GB can already hold about a thousand books and there’s even a micro-SD card slot available for additional storage if needed.

Other features that the new Nook offers include B & N’s LendMe technology, which lets you swap books with other users, and Nook Friends, which gives you a peek of what books your friends are currently enjoying – or not.

Pros and Cons

Pros
There are three factors that make the latest Nook as much of a (potential) best seller as the books you can read on it: its compact and lightweight design, amazingly long battery life, and its high-contrast, high-performance e-ink touchscreen.

All other features – extensive content selection, expansion slot for added storage, built-in Wi-Fi, and others – are simply icing on the cake.

Cons

Considering that the B&N Touch e-ink Reader runs on Android 2.1, the favorite platform for most tablets today, it’s quite ironic that it doesn’t allow web browsing and does not even have audio support.

Although I seriously doubt that people would really use it for browsing or playing MP3s, it would have been good to know these features are available nevertheless.

Also, while the device is equipped with Wi-Fi for free usage in all Barnes & Noble bookstores, 3G connectivity is not an option. Again, this is not a deal-breaker for most users but would still be an inconvenience when you’re in a non-Wi-Fi zone and want to purchase a book.

Closing Line

CNET.com calls the new Nook the, “Best e-ink reader,” while ZDNET.com says this ereader, “Blows the current Kindle out of the water.”

When you read reviews like these from such notable tech sites, then you know you’ve got a device that’s worth a look. The B&N Touch Reader does live up to its name. Even better, in stripping it down to the “bare” essentials, the best parts have not been thrown out.

Amazon set the bar pretty high with the Kindle 3 but it looks like the latest B & N offering is more than up for it.

The smaller and lighter Nook, with its e-ink touch display and longer battery life, is clearly worth its price tag plus more. If the folks over at Amazon haven’t yet come up with a Kindle to match the new Barnes & Noble Reader, now would be a good time to think of one!