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Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with Glow Light Review

While the new Nook's light does enable night reading, there is the predictable tradeoff in battery life.

May 07, 2012
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Introduction

Meet the Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, an intriguing update to the Barnes & Noble Touch eReader. While the unit does enable night reading, there is the predictable tradeoff in battery life. For many, it's enough to convince them to finally take the plunge, because who doesn't like a little night reading? If you were waiting for an eReader with a front-light, it's finally here.

Design & Usability

Oh hey, a light!

Given that previous Barnes & Noble eReaders are very light, it's not surprising that the added weight of a few LEDs doesn't really weigh it down any more: the unit is very easy to hold. The contoured edges and grippy bezel allow you to easily hold your eReader with one hand or two, and you can easily control your eReader with the IR grid touchscreen or by using the hidden buttons on the front.

The contoured edges and grippy bezel allow you to easily hold your eReader with one hand or two. Tweet It

The controls on the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight are identical to the Nook Simple Touch. To start, the IR grid touchscreen can be used to navigate menus, flip pages with a swipe or tap of a finger, and type in searches. The top buttons on either side of the unit are used to turn pages forward, and the bottom ones are used to flip back a page. In addition, the "n"-shaped button on the bottom of the front will call up a menu, or if you hold it for two seconds, will enable the GlowLight.

In addition to the standard 802.11n wireless card in the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, you can also port files to your system over the micro-USB cable. You can also load up a microSD card with files you'd like to view on your NOOK. This is a big plus, but because the eReader can only read eBooks—not play back audio—this seems to be a feature more for archival purposes.

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Performance

A light makes all the difference.

The Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight is built around a 3.5625 x 4.8125-inch eInk Pearl screen, which uses an IR grid touchscreen as its main interface, and packs LEDs inside the case to light up the screen. The IR grid is as responsive as can be expected, though the refresh rate of the eInk screens is typically under 10Hz, meaning page changes will be slower than they are on tablets.

The NOOK does manage to last well beyond the 24 hour mark with continuous reading of eBooks without the GlowLight. Tweet It

While eReaders with eInk screens are typically fantastic in direct sunlight, where they fall short most often is in low light. For this, the NOOK has a built-in "GlowLight," which shines an inoffensively bright light onto the screen so text and illustrations can be visible even in the darkest lighting conditions. For those of you who like night reading, this is a huge plus.

The NOOK does manage to last well beyond the 24 hour mark with continuous reading of eBooks without the GlowLight. If you do enable the light for night reading, you'll find that your battery life plummets to about 10 hours. This result is not terribly surprising, as eReaders do not have a big battery—they do not generally require much juice to display a page.

Conclusion

Tried-and-true hardware with a twist

If you are looking for an eReader with the best hardware, currently the Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight is it. While it's not a radically different design than previous eReaders, the addition of an LED lighting system offers bookworms who like to read at night an affordable solution to a screen that relies on ambient light to be seen. While this should probably have been around a long time ago, it's a sensible addition to the eReader landscape, and from a device standpoint, there is no better eReader on the market than the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight.

But hold on: there's more than hardware that counts towards how well an eReader works for you, and in this case, it's a big deal. While the Nook has some of the best support from its store on the market, it still lacks in some areas like book lending to compete with the current heavyweight Amazon. Still, if you can convert your files using free software, you can easily port them to the NOOK without a problem.

If you're looking for an eReader that has has the potential to be something more, as well as enable you to read your eBooks at night, the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight is probably a good fit for you. While there isn't as good lending support on the NOOK, avid readers will appreciate an eReader that can be used in any light.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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