We won’t be getting it any time soon over here in Blighty, but Barnes & Noble Nook eBook reader is starting to pick up reviews from across the pond.
Sporting similar dimensions to Amazon’s hugely popular Kindle, the Nook is slightly smaller, but thicker and heavier (11.2 ounces) and feels the same size as a trade paperback at 7.7-inches by 4.9-inches and half an inch thick.
The front of the Nook packs a 6-inch, 16-shade grayscale E Ink screen but gets one over the Kindle with its innovative 3.5-inch capacitive colour touchscreen below.
Either side of the screen can be found back/forward buttons for zipping through pages with a ‘home’ button wedged between the two screens.
On top of the unit is an on/off button (or sleep/wake), with a MicroUSB slot, dual speakers, and 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom.
Lurking underneath a soft, rubberised cover on the back can be found access to the Nook’s battery, SIM, and microSD slot.
Reviewers seem impressed with the look and feel of the Nook, with Engadget describing it , “as striking the perfect middle ground between cosy reading partner and lust-worthy gadget,” and Gizmodo praising it as being better looking than the Kindle, and “less busy, with a more proportionate bezel.”
The big selling point is the dual screen arrangement, with the large eInk display providing a crisp and clear reading environment, while the smaller, colour touchscreen is used for navigating lists and reading selections, with an onscreen keyboard letting users input text, notes and search for content.
It seems that the brightness of the backlit colour display can prove a bit overwhelming compared to the main display, with the automatic brightness adjuster not compensating sufficiently.
Problems were found with the software too, which was reported as being sluggish with laggy scrolling – something that might prove really frustrating when you’re deep in an engrossing book.
Great hardware, software still catching up
Packing some interesting features (like the LendMe option and the inclusion of Google Books titles) and coming in a compelling form factor, there’s a lot to love about the Nook, but it seems that it’s still suffering from some annoying early software glitches.
Reading a book is a simple enough process and anything that gets in the way of swiftly delivering the words to the user is soon going to prove very frustrating – and there were many reports of the Nook stuttering on this basic function.
The Nook certainly looks to have got the hardware right, but looks to be a few firmware updates away from delivering the kind of smooth package that can compete with Amazon’s Kindle.
However, Barnes & Noble seem to be committed to regularly improving the device, so perhaps early adopters may find the Nook living up to its promise in the near future but for now, we’d recommend users give the thing a good try-out before committing their wedge.