Review of the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Reader ($249 )
What it is:
The Barnes and Noble Nook is an electronic book reader that is about the size of a 5” x 7” picture frame. The bottom 2 inches of its length features a color touch screen control panel. The Top 5 inches of the Nook are where the electronic mono-colored eBook text is displayed.
How to get the eBooks into the Nook eReader
The Nook uses AT&Ts wireless network to download eBooks, however I have found this to be painfully slow. Luckily you have the option to connect it to a wireless network, which I advise you to do, whenever you want to download eBooks or to get Nook software updates (which my Nook needed) from Barnes and Noble (B&N).
Another interesting “feature” of the Nook is that its library of books is controlled by a digital library account you set up on the Barnes & Noble web site. I thought the purpose of this digital account was to streamline ordering eBooks as you have to put your credit card information into the account to set it up. However, fast eBook buying is only one of the purposes of having a digital account. The other purpose of the digital account is to add and delete items to your digital library that can be downloaded by the Nook.
“Now wait a minute”, you might be thinking. “I thought I could find eBooks and download them with the Nook.” Well that is sort of true. It is actually much easier to use a computer to access the Barnes & Noble digital libraries and find eBooks that you want to buy or download for free. You actually have to “buy” free eBooks even though they are zero cost to have them added to your library.
To “sync” your digital library account to your Nook, you have to choose “Check for New B&N Content” under the Library tab on your Nook. Then the Nook will download all the books you stuck in your digital account.
Another “feature” of the digital account is that you use it to delete digital books from your library. You cannot delete any eBook from the Nook be it a free eBook, a sample eBook, or whatnot. Deletions can only be done on the digital account. So delete what you don’t want on the digital account, then power up your Nook and choose “Check for New B&N Content” under the Library tab. The Nook will then “sync” to your B&N digital library. And “poof” all the unwanted junk is now cleaned off your Nook.
eBooks you can Access with the Nook
The first thing you should know about current eBook readers is that they are proprietary to the major book chain that is selling them. So right now you can’t price shop eBooks at Amazon because they use a different file format (Kindle) that your Nook can’t use. However that being said, most all eBook readers can read pdf files and they can read many file formats that free eBooks are in. So while the major eBook sellers don’t want you buying eBooks anywhere else, they are all pretty much playing nice when it comes to free eBooks.
eBook reader vs. the Notebook or Netbook
The major eBook sellers are all to happy to give you free eReader software that you can run on your personal computer. The main difference between the eReader vs. a notebook or netbook is that eReaders use an electronic paper format screen which is not backlit, while computers all have built in panels that are backlit. Some say the ePaper format of the readers is easier on the eyes than a backlit screen, but I am unconvinced of that.
I spend many hour of my day typing on backlit screens and I don’t have eye strain problems.
The other factor to consider about an eBook reader is its form factor. An eBook reader is much smaller than a notebook or even a netbook, however the eReader is not a true smart device and does not even have the functionality of an Android cell phone or an Apple iPhone. However, the Nook supposedly uses the Android OS, so it could potentially have the ability in the future to become more of an all-around smart device.
If you are strapped for cash and want a good all around device to read eBooks with I would go with a netbook. This would allow you to have access to digital libraries and it has a pretty small form factor for carrying around.
However, economics aside, there’s a lot to be said for picking up a little skinny eReader and pushing the power button and seeing your eBook pop right on to the screen where you left off reading it. No booting up a computer, no clicking icons, and no message windows popping up while you are reading.
Conclusion and final thoughts
eBook readers are very specialized devices that are designed to do one thing … read eBooks. They do this task very well and the Nook is a fine example of the genre.
However if you are strapped for cash, and still want access to digital libraries, then I would suggest a netbook. Pair a netbook up with a cheap cell phone and you wouldn’t need any other electronic device except for maybe and external USB DVD RW or hard drive to dump files to.
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