Friday, June 04, 2010

An Updated Review of Nook!

There's been much talk of e-readers lately as I see that many more book bloggers are thinking of jumping on the bandwagon. Digital copies of ARCs are on the rise it seems, and digital content is growing online all the time.

Since I've had my Nook for a good five months or so, and it's been through multiple software updates, I thought I should post an updated review.

When I wrote my initial review, I hadn't had the device very long, and I was flying high on the newness of it. I did admit a few flaws, there were more that popped up, and a lot has changed since then, so here we go...

1. It's a very different device now. After my first review, I had some nagging problems pop up: Homer (my Nook's name) tended to lock up frequently requiring me to remove the battery to reset the machine. ANNOYING! I scoured the B&N discussion boards for help, and a software update was promised. I also had a problem with my device losing my place in my "Currently Reading" book, and spazzing out when I switched Airplane Mode on and off. For a minute there I started wondering if I'd made a bad decision requesting the Nook over Kindle.

Once the first software update rolled in, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The page flip function sped up tremendously, the locking up stopped, I no longer lost my place in my books, and the navigation changed just slightly. All of the little tweaks were positive and helped Homer run much quicker and with added efficiency.

The second software update was darn near revolutionary! The device originally had five touchscreen "buttons" for navigation:  The Daily, My Library, Shop, Reading Now, and Settings. It now has nine: the original five plus Games, Wi-Fi, Audio, and Web. This update really changed the Nook's capabilities. It has Sudoku and Chess loaded on for some quick gameplay, it can connect to my home's wireless (or Starbucks or wherever), and I can surf the web with the new beta web browser. The audio feature has always been included, but if you're an audiobook fan or like to carry music, it's nice to be able to jump straight to it from the main navigation screen.

I haven't had ANY trouble with my Nook burping or locking up or otherwise acting buggy since the first software update, and the second added really cool features that I was sad not to have when I first received the device.

2. There are some things I love or appreciate even more now than when I got it. In particular, I love all of the cool stuff that comes packaged with the price. The daily content has increased slightly. Two blogs (Daybook and Grin and Tonic) remain, while Unbound: Nook and BN Ereader Blog has been added. There's also a "Getting to Know Your Nook" feature which updates occasionally.

I usually filter into a B&N store about once a week or every two weeks to download free content. When you enter a B&N store, it automatically hooks to the store wifi and you can download exclusive essays. The amount of content has increased greatly over the past few months. Now every time I go in, there are about 15 items to download. There is also a "Free Friday" feature which can be accessed from anywhere (not just in-store). They feature a novel a week which is downloadable for free. I've gotten some good-looking ones and passed on a few that seemed lame. Finally, when in the store, you can read any e-book for an hour a day. You can come back and read for another hour the following day, etc. This gave me the opportunity to really try out (and make headway) in a book I was interested in buying. I don't feel like I'm taking a big chance. I already know I'll like it.

I love the downloadable samples of books. They usually run about 20 pages long, and they've really helped me decide what I want to buy and what I'll pass on in favor of the library. Since I'm a total penny-pinching cheapskate, I still favor free content, but I have downloaded a few books. The latest is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society since I'm sick of waiting for it from my library. Note: this feature is available anywhere, unlike the "Read In-Store" feature I mentioned above.

I also really appreciate that when I use the Search feature in the "Shop" area, it pulls up the free Google books alongside editions that require payment. I passed a copy of Willa Cather's My Antonia the other day and thought to myself, "Hey! I really want a copy of that one. I sooo don't want to pay for it." So I searched the title and VOILA! free copy from Google Books.

Nook is really handy for keeping a wishlist with me wherever I go. In the past I had scraps of paper, an Excel spreadsheet, and other sundry wishlisty nuggets floating around. Now I tend to keep Homer with me wherever I go, and I use the "e-wishlist" feature to keep track of my general wishlist. As I spot books in the store, library, or elsewhere, I can search for them and add them to my e-wishlist for safekeeping.

I REALLY REALLY appreciate the variety of formats the Nook can handle. Epub is a really popular format for e-books, and it seems like everywhere I search (outside and in addition to B&N), they're available. This has allowed me to download books (free and pay) from a number of sites other than B&N. While they do a hell of a job marketing to Nook owners, it's nice to not be completely tied to their format.

And just one more thing! Cute screensavers and stuff get added occasionally. I have a wonderful Tim Burton/Alice in Wonderland screensaver I love. You can add your own photos too. Soon Greyson will have a place on my Nook.

3. And I promise I won't gush much longer, but I should mention that when I first got the reader, it was weird to read on a reader. It does take some getting used to. Now, no problem. Once I downloaded a book which really sucked me in (The Girl Who Chased the Moon) I no longer thought about the device at all and only thought about the story itself. I actually find that I read much faster on the e-reader, too. Which is weird. Who knew?

4. Realistically, a few things that bug me: the screen and surrounding plastic can catch a glare. I've thought of buying some of the screen protectors to cut down on glare, but I read a review somewhere on B&N's site that they're really hard to remove. Kinda weirds me out. And once the navigation on the touchscreen dims, I can see my post-baby double chin in the reflection. Not a good self-esteem boost. Will definitely get rid of the extra pudge before I toss the Nook, though. :)

Everyone says that it takes forever to start up, and it does. Thankfully, I rarely turn mine off. Maybe once a month. It's recommended by B&N that you not turn it off too often. It goes to sleep on its own.

The covers are ridiculously expensive. 'Nuff said. I insist on having one for Nook safety purposes, but I ONLY have one. Until I win the lottery.

So, there it is! A comprehensive list of my thoughts on Nook five months after the original capture. I hope it's helpful for any of you out there searching for e-readers. I love mine as you can tell, and I'm thankful to my family for pitching in to buy it for me.

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