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B&N Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight e-reader review

Backlit screen casts Kindle into the shade?

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Strike a light

I prefer physical keys with their immediate response, but I’m willing to put up with a touch screen if, in exchange, I get a display I can read when the lights are down low.

B&N Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight

There are two physical page-turn keys on both sides of the touchscreen

Better still, there's no such trade-off here: the Nook has physical page-turn keys too. They're embedded in the face of the bezel, which makes for the wider, less pocket-friendly device - it’s a centimetre wider than the vanilla Kindle; 5mm wider than the Kindle Touch - but there they are.

The Glowlight isn’t really a backlight. It actually directs the rays from six LEDs down through the display and it’s the reflected light that provides the (almost) uniform illumination. It beats clip-on lights, or point light sources integrated into cases. And though initially brighter than it needs to be, the brightness can be turned down for a less harsh level of light that's good for nighttime reading while the lights are off and your bedfellow is snoozing.

B&N Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight

Read in the dark...

The Nook provides a comparable reading experience to the Kindle - what differences there are a negligible. The Nook has a broader selection of fonts, for example, but there's little real difference between them. However, I like the fact that you can drag-and-drop your own screensaver pictures onto the desktop-mounted Nook.

B&N claims the Simple Touch will run for a couple of months on a single charge, and I see no reason to dispute that. Using Glowlight will knock that down to 30 days, but I see the Glowlight as an occasional use feature rather than something you’ll be running day in, day out.

B&N Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight

...or in the light

It’s hard then not to recommend the Simple Touch with Glowlight, and if you’re after your first e-book reader or you’re buying for someone who hasn’t got one yet, it’s ideal. B&N claims its UK online bookstore - which opens for business later this month - will have 2.5 million items available, more than double the one million items Amazon claims to offer.

A large catalogue is all very well, but not helpful if it doesn’t include what you’re after. Fortunately, since the Nook uses Adobe’s DRM system and ePub format, the reader will happily present books bought from others suppliers who support these technologies: Sony, Waterstones, Blackwell's, Kobo and its partners, for instance.

B&N Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight

Kindle and Nook

B&N doesn’t expect Amazon customers to jump ship, but with Kindle apps available for Android and iOS phones and tablets, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t swap a Kindle e-book reader for a Nook, or have both, swapping between them according to what you happen to want to read. In any case, Amazon will have a Glowlight-style Kindle out soon enough - in the States it already has.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight is a darn fine e-book reader. But for the fact that the Kobo Glo delivers the same features for £10 less, I’d recommend the Nook unequivocally. The B&N offering is certainly better - and better value - than the Kindle Touch, but that’s of little concern to anyone already tied into the Amazon ecosystem. ®

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The essential guide to IT transformation

85%
B&N Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight e-reader review

Nicely priced ePub-based e-book reader with optional built-in night light.
Price: £79 (no Glowlight) £109 (with Glowlight) RRP

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