Shortly to be available in the UK, and saddled with a monstrously long name, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is an eBook reader from US retailer Barnes & Noble.
Like its Kobo and Kindle rivals, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is an e-ink reader meaning it has a greyscale screen suitable only for reading text. You can’t run apps or play games on this, unlike a tablet.
Much of the reader is fairly standard, the device uses WiFi to connect to the Barnes & Noble bookstore so you’ll need a wireless router connected to your home broadband to get the most from it.
Purchased books are instantly downloaded to the device and listed in the library screen. In addition, once the book is downloaded the store screen offers a simple ‘Read’ option so you can start enjoying your purchase without having to switch screens.
The unit we used was on loan from Barnes & Noble and had been pre-set up for us, including linking it to a corporate credit card so we could use the device at their expense. This meant we were unable to test the set-up process but the Barnes & Noble website suggests it’s as easy as creating and/or entering your username and password for the online nook store.
On the front of the device is a raised letter ‘n’, this is the nook’s home button and when pressed displays a menu of icons along the bottom of the screen.
These in turn take you to the reader’s Home screen which lists whatever you’re currently reading, and new books and newspapers you’ve recently bought and some suggested reads.
The next screen is your Library which lists all your books and can be filtered by name, author and even searched should you amass such a collection of books that scrolling though them becomes a chore. There’s also a search screen that searches your library and the online store for titles and a settings screen.
There’s one other option which we’ll discuss below as it’s tied to the device’s key feature: the GlowLight.
Unlike most of its rivals, this reader includes a lit display to ease nighttime reading. The days of having to leave lamps on or clipping pen torches to your reader or its case are thankfully over. The lights are placed beneath the top layer of the screen and cast a warm and adjustable light over the text which will appeal to those who find the backlit screens of tablets too harsh for longterm use.
The GlowLight is accessed by holding down the home button for a couple of seconds and its brightness can be adjusted via a icon accessed via the above mentioned icon row. When trying the reader in a number of poorly lit environments and in dark rooms I found the light was bright enough when at around the 1/4 setting.
The presence of the built-in light radically alters the usability of an e-ink reader. Something that was largely only of use in daylight or in a brightly lit room is now a viable all-day reading solution.
We used the nook over a two week period, sometimes with the light on, other times unlit. At the end of our test period the battery was still at around 50% after the single, initial charge. This suggests you’ll get through a couple of books at least before needing to hook it back up to the charger.
Other noteworthy features include the ability to add books borrowed from libraries and purchased in ePub format from other retailers – DRM schemes permitting – and support for a memory card so you can increase the amount of space available for storing your books.
It’s also worth noting how comfortable the nook is to hold for long periods, as well as being incredibly light, the device has a soft, rubbery feel to the back which also features a sculptured indent which gives your fingers somewhere to rest without the need to grip too hard.
Overall the GlowLight is an impressive piece of kit that should appeal to anyone looking for a well built, easy to use traditional ereader. We found it simple to use, very comfortable to hold and more convenient to use on busy Tubes and trains than an iPad.
The nook GlowLight will sell for £109, a non-lit version will also be available for £79 but we think the added usability of the light makes the GlowLight variant the better value.