22 03 2011
Reading is tactile and cerebral. I never thought I could get used to an e-book platform. They all seemed too mechanical and I was slow to allow any shitty corporation to 1984 me, monitoring my purchases and having the ultimate say as to what I could and couldn’t have on my e-book. But back in November, when I received a Barnes and Noble Nook packed with the Android OS, I immediately took to it.
The Nook is lightweight, nice in the hands and most important, the screen is pretty comfortable on the eyes. Unlike a backlit iPad or laptop, B&N’s (via Adobe) E-Ink has a look very similar to a slightly greying paperback. The battery lasts forever and then some, which is great, but even better is that when it finally does run out of juice, it charges super fast (less than a hour for a full charge, a full change lasts me a week at minimum or about 12-15 hours of reading time). Android powers the guts of the Nook, including the menu accessed via a touch screen strip at the bottom of the display. Having an open source OS is key— requent updates, customization— but the touch screen really sucks battery life and isn’t nearly as responsive as I’ve come to expect from touch screen devices.
The Nook has enough of a hard drive (2 gb) to carry more books than you could pack on a donkey. Backing up your Nook is just as easy as backing up your personal computer or your phone. You do back up, don’t you?
The faults of the Nook, and there are plenty, really aren’t Nook related issues (besides processing speed), but they are significant lapses you should know before you purchase.
Barnes and Noble has completely fallen down on making the Nook one of those devices that just fit into your life, like, say, an iPhone. Poor integration, usage gaps and useless features abound. I expect my device to seamlessly integrate with my life and create an experience that trumps that of spending hours leafing through paperbacks in some dusty book store, discovering that diamond now and again. But hold up, not here. Every Nook comes with Wi-Fi enabled, which would be great if the Nook was actually a platform that was capable of any type of web browsing. It’s next to impossible to browse and purchase books on the Nook. The keypad, as mentioned before, is unresponsive, the load times painfully slow and the search features anything but intelligent.
Even if you did manage to get to browsing books (most likely on the B&N website) you’ll find the single worst feature of Nook content: there isn’t much. If you love pop fiction and the latest tell all books, Barnes and Noble have got you covered, but anything else, hit and miss. Forget anything fiction published between 1950-2009, unless it was a best seller, and even then it’s tough. Skim the scum off the top of the literary charts and that’s what’s for sale in any genre. Now, this isn’t at all a Nook fault per se, publishers are the ones who release e-books, and for whatever reason, they don’t see much hurry to do so.
Every Nook book (publishers deploy a different version for electronic platforms) I’ve purchased has been rife with typos, missing (or terribly skewed, hard to see, grainy) images–don’t try reading your favorite magazine with this yet. Another note on the display: Fonts are severely lacking: meaning, there are none. Serif and sans is all you get. So forget enjoying the typography of a book. Additionally, skipping ahead, searching through a book, isn’t that easy and is often time consuming. There is a feature in the menu that will allow you to go to any page, but if you’re not sure which page you’re looking for, good luck. Bookmarks are also available, but I’ve found little use for them as the Nook always remembers your last page, even if you’ve closed that particular book and opened another.
While the Nook hasn’t made me kick the paperback habit, I do use it quite a bit. Like anything man made, it could use with improvements, but for me, when I’m on the go (which is always) the Nook can’t be beat for it’s convenience and storage.