For the past few weeks I’ve been using a loan unit of the all-new version of Barnes & Noble’s NOOK GlowLight ereader which went on sale in the UK today.
The GlowLight offers all the usual features: an e-ink screen which manufacturers and aficionados insist is better for reading than a tablet and WiFi access to a built-in bookstore so your purchases are instantly available on the device.
At £89.99 Nook have priced the new GlowLight between its two closest competitors – Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite (£109) and Kobo’s Glo (£79.99).
While there’s obviously a saving to be had against the self-proclaimed market leader, I’m not convinced it’s big enough to divert sales from Amazon or to make much of a splash in the UK market where NOOK remain virtually unknown.
The NOOK GlowLight has a soft, white housing which is very comfortable in the hand, even when held for long periods of time.
The choice of white is a welcome change from the usual greys and blacks of ereaders and NOOK suggest it, when considered with the soft texture, evokes more of a sense of reading a paper book than rival devices.
If they want owners can customise their device by buying an optional coloured iPhone-style bumpers but this seems a bit of a gimmick which would add the very distraction NOOK boasts their device lacks out of the box.
Page ‘turns’ on the new GlowLight are faster than I recall being the case with the previous generation model and the annoying periodic screen refresh which some readers still exhibit has been eliminated.
Despite the soft casing the device feels robust and has survived regular commutes, an accidental drop on the Tube and being chucked into my bag, without suffering any damage.
NOOK claims an eight week battery life but, like all ereaders, this is based on just 30 minutes of use per day so you’ll need to recharge more regularly if your bus rides to and from work are longer.
The new GlowLight is a solid, speedy device which works as well as you’d hope for a device costing £90, but brings nothing new to the ereader market and it’s unclear why anyone should buy this instead of one of its rivals.
Indeed, in 2014 dedicated ereaders are a dwindling fad. The aficionados may insist on the claimed superiority of e-ink screens, but the move is towards apps on tablets and smartphones and, in my view, your money would be better spent on NOOK’s own HD tablet which is currently on sale for £79.99.