As far as e-readers go, Barnes and Noble’s NOOK has had a shaky track record at best. Recently I purchased the company’s new model, the NOOK GlowLight, and there are several changes from previous models of which consumers should be made aware. The convenient page turn buttons which had been present on previous versions of the NOOK have been removed from the sides of this device. I can’t help but wonder the logistics behind this decision, as the physical side buttons have really helped the NOOK stand out from the competition in the past. Also absent, sadly, is the micro SD card slot which had enabled users to upload external content to their e-reader. This will be a major detriment to those individuals with particularly large personal libraries. I’m somewhat anal retentive and I enjoy having the ability to store all my e-books in one place so I can keep them organized. With the GlowLight, this is an impossibility for me. However, it is worth noting that the GlowLight’s internal memory has been doubled from that of the NOOK Simple Touch. At 4 gigabytes, the GlowLight can store something around 2,000 books, although 2 GB has been reserved by the manufacturer for Barnes and Noble content, which means that space cannot be used for storing files not purchased through the NOOK store.
Physically, the new NOOK is the lightest model yet. Barnesandnoble.com states the device only weighs 6.2 ounces. This is definitely beneficial for someone who is used to holding up a thousand-page hardback for hours at a time. Your wrists will thank you. The screen resolution of the NOOK GlowLight is exceptional when compared to other e-readers. The fonts, while limited, are sharper than ever and reading on the device feels nearly indistinguishable from reading an actual book. I didn’t think I would be a fan of the white casing of this model, but it’s actually much easier on the eyes because there’s less contrast. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the casing retracts from the device quite easily, and I think the manufacturer could have put a little more effort into using a better adhesive to secure it properly. The screen responds to the touch fluidly and quickly, although I did notice some minor ghosting does occur when the device is used for an extended period of time due to the GlowLight’s partial refresh. All the functions from previous iterations have been carried over here. Users can shop for new books in the NOOK store, create custom shelves, highlight passages, look up definitions, and insert notations.
All in all, the Nook GlowLight feels more like a sub species in the evolutionary tree than a revolutionary step forward. For someone new to the idea of e-readers who is just beginning to consider their first purchase, it might not be a bad place to start. For those of us with to-be-read piles bursting the capacity of your favourite device, save your money. There just aren’t enough new features to warrant the price tag.
By Sam Williams