Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nook - A Proper Review

School has been back in full swing this week, but Texas is experiencing what the newspeople affectionately call an Arctic Blast (temps in the teens and 20s). I just think it's funny because it's TEXAS getting an "arctic blast." Anyway, we had some icy road conditions this morning. School is cancelled as a result and just in time! We had two, two-hour long orientations sessions scheduled for today, but those have been rescheduled, and I get to stay home, warm and cozy, read, and finish my syllabi. Woohoo! Ironically, Rocketboy and Rocketgirl still had school at their respective elementary and middles in our neighborhood.

On to books! I figured since I've been so excited to share my Nook'ness, I'd better give it a proper review. If you're thinking about buying an e-reader, this is the post for you!

Start with the good stuff...

It's very easy to navigate. The color touchscreen at the bottom has sections for "The Daily," "My Library," "Shop," "Reading Now," and "Settings." The navigation is very intuitive with draggable screens of options that you just slide your finger across or down in order to access . I was slightly worried that the backlit touchscreen would be a distraction since the actual reading screen is paper-like and NOT backlit. I was right! It is annoying while trying to read, but it also has various "sleep" settings so the touchscreen will dim and go off completely. I have mine set to less than 2 minutes, so now it's not annoying at all!

Downloads are REALLY fast! The first time I downloaded a book, I was slightly taken aback by how quickly it was delivered to my device. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I've downloaded a couple of free classics and one book I got with a gift card (The Help, Stockett). I thought it would take a few minutes to pull the file in, but I pressed "Buy" and boom, it was ready to roll!

Daily readables from B&N! I want to subscribe to a magazine or newspaper. I'm thinking of The New Yorker. Since I haven't taken the plunge yet, I didn't think I'd have anything delivered daily to my "The Daily" section, but you get a couple of freebies with the Nook. One is "Daybook" which is a "this day in literature" type of feature. I've enjoyed it very much so far. The other freebie is "Grin & Tonic," a daily humor column which I haven't been following daily. Usually I'm so impressed with Daybook that I don't even bother with Grin & Tonic. Oh, and one of the first things to pop up in the Daily was a welcome to Nook written by Dave Barry! Hilarious.

Easy to add files from independent sites. Honestly, who wants to buy every e-book from one company? For that matter, how wants to buy every e-book! Yesterday I was tired and cranky and didn't want to leave my all-day meeting and go pick up a copy of Mrs. Dalloway for the Woolf in Winter read-a-long. I checked B&N and Project Gutenberg and didn't find any copies of the book, but a quick Google search took me to another site--the name escapes me--and there it was! I downloaded the ePUB file at work, e-mailed it to myself at home, hooked the Nook up to my computer with a USB cord, and simply moved the file over. Voila! It works beautifully, and I have a freebie copy of Mrs. Dalloway for my read-a-long.

Compactness! Chuck plays pool two nights a week, and I'm in love with his (our) pool friends. Adorable gay men, builders, lawyers. It's a mixed bag. Their home base is a sports bar that we really like, so I went along last night since it was their last round of play for several weeks. Barstools are increasingly uncomfortable on my big, fluffy butt, so when I got tired, I dipped into my purse, pulled out my Nook, and spent some time on a well-lit leather couch with Emma. I know, I'm a party animal. It's very thin and holdable, and it doesn't bother me at all!

It's easily personalized! Like any other electronic anything these days, the Nook has a screensaver mode and has wallpaper. Users can add their own photos to serve as screensavers/wallpaper and there are some that come preloaded. I adore the authors screensaver that's preloaded, so I haven't changed it. Whenever the Nook goes into sleep mode a cute drawing of Kurt Vonnegut or the Bronte sisters will pop up and remain until you wake it up again. So fun!

Cool notes, highlight, and bookmark functions! I got really upset at the bar last night when the Nook seemed to have forgotten my Emma bookmark. As it turns out, Chuck had been playing with it and accidentally erased my bookmark. Luckily, one of the Nook's many cool functions is the ability to search for a word or words in the text. I searched "half-a-guinea" and I was right back where I'd left off. I've also tried out the highlight and notes feature which obviously allows for annotating favorite passages. You can also leave multiple bookmarks in any book.

The few things I don't like or that could use some tweaking:

I wish I could surf the net! As I recall from playing with my friend Susan's Kindle, it could actually surf the Internet. Nook has wifi capability which can be used in B&N stores for special features, coupons, etc. but as far as simply surfing blogs or whatever, Nook doesn't. It's a small price to pay, but it would be nice.

The battery life is not as good as advertised! B&N advertises that you can get 10 days of battery life if you turn off the wireless in the background. It certainly does save battery, but I doubt I'll get more than 5-7 days out of it. I leave the wireless on much of the time to catch the daily content, and so far it looks like I'll be charging every 4 days or so, but I'm also anal about letting the battery get too low. Same with my cell phone. Oh, and I also play with my Nook constantly. More than should be legal.

No cover included! Even if the cover wasn't that spectacular, it would be GREAT if the Nook came with one. As it is now, you have to buy covers separately. There are some designer ones, some lesser ones made of silicone, etc. On average the book-like covers run around $30. Designer covers can run as much as $89. Since I insist on carrying my Nook with me a lot, Chuck and I headed over to a large B&N in our area, and I picked up a pretty, black leather-like cover with the quote, "When I step into this library, I cannot understand why I ever step out of it," by Marie de Sevigne. It has some interior pockets included, holds the Nook securely inside, and opens like a book, so it's comfortable to leave the cover on while reading. However, it would be nice if there were something complimentary.

The Nook does a LOT, but this review is just the high points of what I like and what could still use improvement. I am totally happy with my Christmas gift, and so far I'm really OK reading it instead of a printed book all the time. It's a different experience, but it's not THAT different. Does that make sense? I'll be digitizing some of my book collection as B-Day (baby day) approaches to clear up some space, and I'm excited about it!

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