Barnes & Noble’s “Nook” ereader review roundup

December 7, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka


Barnes & Noble’s “Nook” ereader review roundup

It’s several days later than I originally planned, but I finally got my hands on a Nook. Sadly, it was an in-store demo unit because I was late to pre-order the device and fell victim to unchecked, rampant misinformation provided to me by several employees at my local Barnes & Noble retailers. I’m very disappointed, but that’s a rant I’ll save for another day.

What did I think of the Nook? To be clear, I can’t give an honest review after less than an hour of playing with a demo unit, but I’m very intrigued. The physical feel of the device is great – smooth back, light build, and easy to handle form. I am one of the holdouts for sticking with physical reading materials because I still enjoy actually holding a book/magazine and resting my eyes after staring at a computer screen hours of the day for work. However, the Nook’s e-ink and comfortable use makes me feel comfortable in possibly switching to electronic reading more often.

I was not so comfortable with this screen greeting me the moment I powered up.



I couldn’t help but laugh. What are the odds of getting a force close error before I ever get to do anything? I don’t know what the previous customer using it did, but it was funny.

Here’s what the blogosphere is saying about the Nook. Click the website name to see the review in full and gain more insight into the Nook.


The E Ink display does a perfect, though predictable job of generating easy to see and easy to read text and images on the screen. In our tests — and this may just be due to the Kindle we were using — we felt it very slightly outperformed Amazon’s option in contrast, though the Kindle has a considerably faster refresh rate when turning pages. In fact, the Nook’s refresh speed was sometimes a little annoying, with us actually having moments in between page turns of waiting for more content — not a feeling you want to encounter if you’re trying to mimic the book-reading experience.


Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: The Nook isn’t a Kindle killer–not in this initial form, at least. For all its pleasing touches, intriguing innovations, and clear advantages over the Kindle, it feels like a less-than-perfectly-polished 1.0 product, just like Amazon’s first e-reader did a couple of years ago. The user interface is surprisingly sluggish, there are some usability gaffes, and I encountered a major bug with the device’s most-touted feature. Even the much-hyped lending feature has a major gotcha: You can lend a book once. Period.


If I haven’t said much about reading books on the Nook itself, it’s because it feels very much like a Kindle, right down to the page-turn buttons. The screen is the same—there’s no discernible difference whatsoever. Aesthetically, the Nook is better looking, less busy, with a more proportionate bezel (and a wee bit more girth). I like the gray rubber backing as much as I loved in on the original Kindle—I still don’t know why Amazon abandoned that.