Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Nook Simple Touch


It's been almost two years since I received the first generation Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader. If you remember, I was thrilled with the device. I've remained pretty thrilled in general, but over the course of the two-year relationship I discovered a few annoyances:

1. The white frame and reflective touch-screen navigation were occasionally annoying. I had a habit of studying my double-chin in the touch-screen.

2. It was really too heavy to hold with one hand. Especially when it was "wearing" a cover.

When it came to getting a new Nook this year, I was somewhat noncommittal. I kinda felt guilty wanting a new e-reader since there was absolutely nothing technically wrong with my old one. On the other hand, there were parts of the Nook Simple Touch that really appealed to me:

1. The dark grey frame seemed like it would cut down on distraction and help make the contrast between the print and the e-ink page more noticeable.

2. No reflective navigation bar to throw my chins up at me.

3. Smaller, lighter.

4. Faster page turns, longer battery life!

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, went ahead and bought the Simple Touch for me for Christmas. Thrilled is me! All of the improvements I listed above are certainly true. I can comfortably hold the Simple Touch with one hand, even when it's wearing its cover. The reading screen is the same size, but the whole device is smaller and slimmer thanks to the exclusion of the navigation panel.

I've also discovered some nice surprises -- new features I never thought about that really jump out at me. First and foremost, the touchscreen is fantastic!!! It's responsive and quick -- none of that dreaded lag. I admit that I am super anal retentive about smudging screens and dust particles and all of that. I bought a cleaning cloth -- should take care of that little obsession.

Since the device is now touchscreen, the act of highlighting and adding notes is MUCH improved. To highlight a passage you simply hold your finger down where you want to start highlighting and drag to the end of the passage. Voila! To add a note, use your finger to click the highlighted passage and add your note. Once the note is added, a notepad icon appears next to the passage for easy reading. It's also much easier to locate highlighted passages since the device automatically labels them with the quoted text if you don't indicate a specific note with which to identify the passage. In the past, the device randomly attached a number to the passages and bookmarks which made it almost impossible to identify at a glance.

The navigation is streamlined with five options: Home, Library, Shop, Search, Settings. The home screen itself is great, with a magazine-style layout. It includes clickable sections for Reading Now (shows current book and page number), New Reads (recent downloads), and What to Read Next (enter to shop B&N and view recommendations). The Library is also revamped a bit, with some options for filtering and ordering titles in one's library, and it combines Barnes and Noble NookBooks and books manually downloaded and added to the Nook together into one library (formerly two separate libraries).

Battery life also seems to be vastly improved. I've been reading a couple of hours a day since the 22nd of December, and my device is still at 69% charge.

Throughout the e-reader boom in the last few years, I've stuck to my guns on a couple of things: I prefer the Nook to other devices, and I prefer a DEDICATED E-READER!!! While I respect and am occasionally envious of those readers with NookColors and NookTablets, I know myself well enough to admit that those devices are probably not for me. Like so many areas of my life, I am easily distracted!!! If I have an option to hop on Facebook or play Angry Birds, I will probably do it! Even engaging in those things rather than reading. Why would I do that if I LOVE reading so much??? Because Facebook and games require far less engagement and mental capacity on my part. I love reading, but sometimes it's a struggle to settle in with so many other things going on. A dedicated e-reader helps me remain focused on what makes me feel fulfilled and put the other "plugged in" activities to the side.

Since I received my Simple Touch six days ago, I've read the majority of two books (will finish the second today). This is a byproduct of time off work and a new toy, but I also think I'll continue to enjoy this new e-reader for all the reasons I mentioned above. Hopefully it'll continue to enhance my reading into 2012!!!

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