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The nook Simple Touch Reader, a Review.

 

Barnes and Noble just last month released a new addition to their nook family of E-Readers. It’s called the nook Simple Touch, or nook Touch. Using a touch screen and the most recent e-ink technology, it’s been said the Nook Touch is the best e-reader on the market – don’t forget the “2 Month Battery Life” that B&N has been waving in everyone’s face, either. Wanting to get rid of lugging my books around, I bought into the hype and got myself one. I walked out of Best Buy with $150.00 USD spent after taxes, and high expectations.

Hardware

Wow, this thing is small. Boasting a 6″ touchscreen display, it is undoubtedly smaller than most tablets out on the market and very different from the first-generation nook. Then again, this isn’t aiming to replace your iPad or other tablet: The nook touch is for reading. *cue synced gasp from audience* No audio jack for music or audiobooks, no flashy features. You’re getting one of these to read, and not much else.

The rubbery grip and light weight make it easy to hold, and after a couple hours’ reading, that’s something to be thankful for. The Electronic Ink display is also remarkably crisp. Both text and even hi-res photos rendered amazingly. In either low light or direct sunlight, it looked great. In those long reading sessions, strain and fatigue on the wrists or eyes was unheard of. At face value, the nook is easy to read and look at. Images from screen savers and book covers also render amazingly and look great. The touch display works great as well. It detects more than just fingers though, so a brush against your jacket could result in a page turn. There is a minor delay with response times, but that is due to the technology of E-Ink. I was satisfied with button-free navigation, and consider it a high point of the device.

Page turning is done by either tapping the screen on the right or left, or the buttons situated on the left and right side of the device. There exist two more hardware buttons: one being the nook button to bring up the menu and wake the tablet, and another for power. At times, it was easier to swipe on the screen to turn, as the buttons seemed to make the fingers feel a bit numb by being a bit hard to push.

As far as storage goes, the device has 2gb built in, with only 1gb reserved for books. On top of that, another 750mb are reserved for purchased content from Barnes and Noble’s e-book store. That leaves only ~250mb for personal storage. I haven’t been able to hit that limit yet; however, I do know of individuals who can reach that in minutes with .pdf files—their sizes being the culprits. There is a Micro-SD slot open which can be expanded to 32gb, however.

The supposed 2 month battery life [with wi-fi off] is often used as a main selling point. Over 3 days of hard-core reading (finishing 2 novels in those three days), I was able to put a dent in the battery and bring it to around 76%. I can’t speak for it being able to last 2 months, but B&N is saying this is possible with casual reading. The battery is great, but two months may be a bit too far of a stretch.

From a hardware point of view, the nook is perfect to slip into your backpack or purse, and be able to reach in and read at a moment’s notice. Its lightweight and comfortable design make it a well-designed piece of technology that you can take wherever you go. Its portability makes it easy to bring out on those long rides on the bus or train.

Software

Running Android 2.1, the nook’s operating system is one of the high points of the device. It reflects its name with the fact that it is simple and easy to navigate. Access to the Barnes and Noble store is easy to find, and you are able to pick up right where you left off in whatever you’re reading.

The supported file formats include ePIB (both DRM and non-DRM) and PDF for book formats, and  JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP for images that can be used for the photo screensaver.  For those of you who have books in PDF format, I do highly recommend using Calibre to convert these files to ePUB, as PDFs take a whole lot more storage and don’t format quite as nicely as ePUB does.

The nook does organize your library into various shelves, but you must do that manually—a minor setback when you have dozens and dozens of PC Mag and PC World issues that you would probably want grouped together. The process is tedious, and it will stay that way until the file system is made more accessible to third party software for better management.

There are many text options to help make reading more clear, as varying sizes and fonts do exist.

Other small features are Facebook and Twitter sharing, and your Google contacts can also be imported as well. There is a very basic web browser hidden within the search function, but it’s quite bare-bones and not recommended for actual web surfing.

The nook’s OS isn’t something to cheer for, but it accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. It’s simple to navigate, and is more than enough to serve as something for an eReader. However, if you feel up to the challenge, there are instructions on how to root the device, but bear in mind that rooting does affect the battery life.

 

Wrap-up

The nook Simple Touch Reader is one of the best eReaders on the market right now. It’s strong points include an awesome display and easy to navigate OS. The price is also set at a competitive 139.99 USD, an amount that most people will be willing to pay. From my ~2 month experience with the reader, it’s undoubtedly one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I’s lightweight design and battery life makes it something that you can keep in your backpack or purse for weeks at a time, and not worry about being too far away from your copy of the latest PC Mag or Stephen King novel. It’s going to be in my bag for (hopefully) years to come.

While I think the nook is the greatest thing on earth, what about you? What other eReaders are great alternatives? Any personal experiences worth sharing? Leave us a comment below! :)

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