I got my wife a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas… well I ordered it before Christmas. It shipped some time in January. In any case, I was really deciding between the Nook and the Amazon Kindle. Both of them were priced the same so it was a matter of the features that was going to determine the winner. They both have the same basic functionality such as E-Ink paper-like greyscale display, free wireless network access to download books, approximatly the same size screen and weight, and the ability to play mp3s. Some key features that I thought were an advantage over the Kindle:
- Andrioid OS
- Expandable memory slot (you have to remove the back cover to get to it)
- PDF and EPUB format native support
- 802.11b Wireless (only for use at B&N… for now)
- replaceable battery
- Small Color LCD screen (Menu and displays book covers…in color)
The Andriod OS has been making a splash on phones and many apps have been written for it. It is also fairly open which it was not a surprise when I found out that they hacked to nook to play Pandora over the free AT&T wireless network. Add the expandable memory slot with the 802.11b wireless capablitity and the possibilities are endless. Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it. The fact that you have a free AT&T wireless connection and an Android OS based device appeals to the hacker in me.
As far as reading ebooks, it does what is expected. You can adjust the font, font size and contrast so text is easier to see. Reading PDFs are as easy as connecting the nook to you PC via USB and copying the PDF to the mydocuments folder on the Nook’s internal memory storage. While you have your Nook connected, you can add some family photos to the mybackgrounds folder to see a grayscale version of your photo as a screen saver. You could also add some MP3 to listen to while you read, but at mono sound and with all the other mp3 players available, why bother. Since the Nook only uses battery to change the text on the screen and to power to tiny LCD screen, the battery life is long as expected (days between charges). However, I noticed that if you have an extending reading session, like my wife sometimes does, you will have to charge it sooner than expected. One issue I had was the Nook would not charge when using the AC adapter, but it did charge using the USB directly to the PC. I called B&N support and after talking to an English speaking person, they shipped me a new AC adapter at no charge and with no hassle.
If you are considering an iPad versus a Nook for reading e-books, you are comparing apples to oranges. There is a distinct difference between an Apple iPad and the Kindle or Nook. That is the back-lit screen. There is a camp of people that can not spend an extended period of time reading text on a monitor or LCD. That’s why e-book readers have an advantage over a netbook or PDA. The e-ink technology is as close to reading paper as you can get and the battery life sweetens the deal. If you can spend hours reading on a monitor, don’t bother getting an e-book reader. Go out and get yourself a netbook or drop extra cash on the latest Apple gadget.
That said, the additional features on the Nook was the deciding factor in the battle of the e-readers. The only thing that I am worried about is how the Kindle market share will effect the number of ebooks available for Nook. Hope my decision pays off. Only time will tell.