Nook Glowlight: Design
Two years after launching the original Nook Simple Touch GlowLight, US book retailer Barnes & Noble is back with the second generation of the ereader to challenge Amazon and Kobo's hold on the UK market.
At 175g, the Nook GlowLight is lighter than the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and one gram heavier than the Kobo Aura HD, but it still feels solid enough to hold onto when reading.
The ereader is slimmer than the Simple Touch and very comfortable to hold. The Nook GlowLight comes in a choice of three colours – off-white matte plastic with a grey, purple or red silicone rubber border to protect the device in case you drop it.
The design is a departure from the previous black plastic used in the Simple Touch GlowLight, and is clearly designed to differentiate the GlowLight from the Kindle.
Although the ereader is very attractive to look at, the white bezel stains easily and my review unit has already picked up blemishes on back and front after a week of use.
Nook Glowlight: Features
The new Nook GlowLight comes with Wi-Fi N and an improved battery life of up to eight weeks on a single charge (if you were to read for only half an hour a day with GlowLight on and the Wi-Fi turned off), which is double the capability of the previous generation.
The ereader's processor speed is however exactly the same as the Simple Touch GlowLight at 800MHz, which is slightly less powerful than the 1GHz processor in the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Aura, although there is no noticable difference in speed when I compared page transitions between the Paperwhite and the GlowLight.
The single trademark 'N' button on the lower bezel turns the device on and controls the light, while a button on the top left-hand edge turns the device off.
The N button is also used to navigate around the Nook interface, to get to the store and open different books - but be warned, even when turned off, the light can accidentally turn on while the ereader is in your bag if anything presses against the N button which will drain the battery.
The microUSB connector port is at the bottom of the device as usual, and while Barnes and Noble has expanded the internal memory to 4GB (which holds 2,000 books in the 2.5GB available storage), it's a pity the microSD slot seen in the original GlowLight has been removed, which would have expanded the memory to up to 32GB.
Nook Glowlight: Screen
The screen is an improvement on the Simple Touch GlowLight, featuring a resolution of 758 x 1024 (up from 600 x 800), with an improved pixel density of 212 pixels per inch (ppi) as opposed to 167ppi.
These specs match the current Kindle Paperwhite. The text is quite clear and sharp when reading, and book covers display very clearly, while the lighting is much more even and looks much brighter compared to the previous generation.
Although most people will prefer to keep the light on the GlowLight to a medium setting at night, it should be noted that when we compared the two ereaders side-by-side, the Nook was capable of reaching a higher brightness than the Kindle Paperwhite.
Page turns are fast and very responsive, the font is clear and Barnes and Noble says that it has used regal waveform E-Ink technology to completely eradicate full page flashing, so page turns are much easier on the eyes.
While you still get flashing whenever you go back to the Nook's homepage, or switch between the shop and a book, on the whole the experience is quite comfortable.
The screen also comes with a built-in, anti-glare screen that makes it easy to read even in the sunshine.
Nook Glowlight: Interface
The interface of the Nook GlowLight is quite simple and easy to use.
The home screen shows you the book you're reading now as a spotlight, together with smaller images of some of the other books, magazines and newspapers in your library on the device, and only one book is highlighted on the recommended section at the bottom of the screen.
Barnes and Nobles has a large collection of books which you can download from the Nook Store, and users can also explore using Nook Channels, a new algorithm-based recommendation system that aims to offer reading material tailored to users' preferences.
Navigation is quite straight-forward and inputting information and Wi-Fi passwords is not too fiddly. I found the Nook Channels to be interesting and perhaps half-right about my preferences in reading material.
Of course, it depends on your Wi-Fi connection, but I found that getting books onto your device took the best part of 30 seconds at the most once you clicked the "Download" button.
While reading, you get the option of seven different font sizes, six different styles and three options to alter margins and line spacing.
If you double-tap a word, a dictionary definition comes up immediately, while holding down your finger over a paragraph brings up the option to highlight text, add notes and share it over social media and email.
Nook Glowlight: Value and Verdict
At £89, the Nook GlowLight is £20 cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Aura HD, and has almost identical specs to the Kindle Paperwhite.
One big plus point for the Nook GlowLight is that it can be used to read EPUB book files purchased from other retailers besides Barnes and Noble, which Amazon doesn't allow on the Kindle (although you can do this on the Kobo Aura too).
This is a particularly useful feature if you want to transfer ebooks from an old ereader of another brand.
Also, if you want to compare the ebooks on offer, the UK Nook store and the Kobo store both claim to have 3 million ebooks on offer, while Amazon UK only has 2.5 million ebooks.
So it depends on what you're looking for. If you've never had an ereader before or only had an ereader with no light, then the Nook GlowLight is not a bad product to upgrade to if you're looking for a bargain.
- Design 8/10 - Compact and comfortable to hold, but the bezel stains easily
- Value 9/10 - At £89, it's the cheapest ereader in its category with very similar specs to the Kindle Paperwhite except processor speed
- Screen 9/10 - Barnes and Noble has improved the screen so it is more evenly lit and the page transitions are very fast
- Build Quality 10/10 - Sturdy, and the silicone rubber border provides protection against falls
- Overall 9/10 - A good upgrade from an entry-level ereader or a good first ereader
- Improved screen
- Ability to read third-party EPUB files
- Nicely designed – a pleasure to pick up and hold
- Bezel stains easily
- Light can turn on in your bag – locking system could be improved