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Updated: 11/22/2011

As soon as I removed the new Barnes & Noble Nook from its box, I could tell that this petite e-reader was going to be a worthy challenger to the third-generation Amazon Kindle. Impressively, when I tested the Nook and its new touchscreen, I found that it does indeed out-Kindle the Kindle at its own game in some respects; but in others, the Nook falls shy of topping Amazon’s e-reading staple.

The new Nook Simple Touch ($99 as of 11/22/2011) has been completely redesigned, yet retains the same moniker as the original Nook, which is now referred to as Nook First Edition. That year-and-a-half-old Nook missed the mark with a clunky LCD screen for navigating the E-Ink display above it. This new Nook is lighter, more svelte, and introduces Neonode’s Zeforce infrared touch technology to simplify access and navigation, as well as a Wi-Fi connection.

An E-Reader for Reading

Where the Nook First Edition’s weight and size made it bulky, unwieldly, and generally unpleasant to use, the new Nook is the polar opposite: It weighs 0.47 pounds–35 percent lighter than the original Nook, and slightly lighter than the third-generation Kindle Keyboard (0.60 pounds), and slightly heavier than the fourth-generation $79 Kindle With Special Offers (0.37 pounds). It’s also more compact–6 percent thinner and more than an inch shorter the first Nook. It now measures 6.5 by 5.0 by 0.47 inches–notably smaller than its older sibling. That makes it half-an-inch wider than the fourth-gen Kindle.

In hand, the difference between the two versions is palpable. The new Nook is clearly made for curling up with and holding in one hand for an hours-long dive into another universe; that’s exactly what I did with it on its maiden voyage. Its size and weight do make it easier to hold than the First Edition, and it’s even slightly easier to hold than the current Amazon Kindle, which integrates a physical keyboard and has no touchscreen display. It’s remarkably well-balanced to hold, be it in one hand or two; I found it quite comfortable to hold with my thumbs along the bottom bezel, and my index fingers and forefingers bracing the back.

The physical shape of Nook is pleasing in-hand, too: The e-reader’s front and back both have a textured rubber finish, much like you’ll find on a cell phone. The backplate cover dips in; those millimeters effectively give the Nook a built-in grip to make it even easier to hold. Nice touch.

Now that the Nook has a touchscreen, most navigation will be done on the display, not via the buttons. As on the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet, the main home button is a lowercase “n” beneath the screen. Here, the “n” starts the display’s wake-up process (as with cell phones, you also have to slide your finger along the screen to wake it fully), and returns you to the quick navigation buttons on-screen. These buttons are similar to the ones that were the central navigation mode on Nook First Edition, but they’ve been refreshed and updated to reflect the new Nook’s interface, and bring it in line with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet. Gone are options like “the daily” and “reading now”–both of these options have been combined under the “home” screen, which shows what you’re reading now, what’s new in your library (be they new purchases or newly delivered subscriptions), and, at bottom, what to read next based on B&N’s recommendation engine.

Design

The Nook has a power button on the back top that feels well-matched to a fingertip, but the button is surprisingly noisy, and borderline chintzy, when I pressed on it. This button doubles as another way to wake the e-reader, and can power down the unit entirely. Good thing you can, because this was the only way to fix a snafu I ran into with the on-board Shop: After some use, the Shop would no longer connect to the server, in spite of the Wi-Fi connection working fine. To rectify this, I had to power off the device and reboot it. B&N is looking into the problem, but didn’t have an answer for me as to why it happened in the first place. (Editors’ Note: Six months later, this hasn’t been an issue.)

My biggest gripe with the Nook’s design happens to be with its physical navigation buttons. The easy-to-depress, outward-facing buttons on Nook First Edition have been replaced by cheap-feeling, raised rubber strips that run along the left and right bezel. The buttons are stiff and require a very precise and deep press to activate; and even though your finger can bleed a bit towards the edge of the e-reader and still manage to activate the button action, ultimately the experience is nothing like the buttons on Nook First Edition and on Kindle, which are both easier to depress and can work with your whole finger, not just your fingertip. If you’re wedded to the use of buttons for changing pages, I’d actually steer you away from this Nook–that’s how poorly implemented I consider these buttons. And that’s a disappointment, since the new Nook gets so much else right.

Now, if you’re comfortable with the idea of swipes and on-screen touches, then Nook is a great choice. The fully redesigned interface is finger-friendly, and makes it easy to navigate and perform operations with the touch of a finger. And I found the touchscreen highly responsive; the on-screen keyboard even kept up with my speedy touch-typing. (See “Remodeled Interface” below for more on the touchscreen navigation.)

The case is now charcoal gray, as opposed to white, a move that helps enhance readability. But that wasn’t the only step B&N took to boost the readability of the display.

The significant remaining addition to the Nook is its new E-Ink Pearl display. E-Ink Pearl brings Nook up to speed with the other monochrome e-readers on the market today. The new Nook uses the same 6-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Pearl display that Amazon and Sony integrated in their e-readers last summer and fall, respectively, and the same display as in Kobo’s eReader Touch Edition. The Pearl display is known for providing better contrast than earlier-generation E-Ink displays, but oddly, in my hands-on tests with the three e-readers side-by-side, I observed different results.

As it originally shipped, I found that the new Nook’s display provided only nominally better contrast than the one on Nook First Edition, and that the Amazon Kindle actually has the best contrast of the three, with blacker blacks, and a brighter gray background than on the new Nook. I had the three e-readers set to similar text passages, with closely matching if not identical fonts (at the least, I observed behavior with all e-readers set to nonserif fonts, and to serif fonts). However, the Kindle and the new Nook flipped places on the home-screen display: There, the Nook looked better than the Kindle. I chalk this up to the vagaries of the different fonts and text sizes, and to the fact that these differences cause the blacks to appear different on the different devices. They’re close, but by no means identical, in spite of using the same display technology.

In November 2011, Nook Simple Touch got a firmware update that greatlly improved the contrast of the text and graphics. Blacks made are darker than before, which makes text easier to read and graphics jump off the screen. I’d put the Nook’s text quality now as the best I’ve seen among E Ink e-readers. And the viewing options are more flexible than Amazon’s Kindle or Kindle Touch; Nook has six fonts and eight font sizes to choose from.

The update also improved on B&N’s already speedy page refresh rates and page turns. The e-reader still does a full refresh once every sixth page, but by doing what manifest as fast dissolves between pages, B&N lets you effectively rapidly page ahead dozens of pages, while mitigating the annoying page-flashing effect long associated with E Ink. B&N does targeted refreshes on a page that has just graphics changing (for example, in the e-reader’s bookstore), and on areas that will have a heavy redraw.

Remodeled Interface

Though touch makes the Nook easy to navigate, occasionally where you can swipe and where you can’t isn’t always clear. For example, you can swipe through some modules in the bookstore, down on some pages, but not on others. For the most part, this is stuff you’ll learn through trial and error, and doing so is not hard.

Similarly, I found it annoying that in the interface, I’d often have to move my hand all the way up to the top to find the X to close out of a page. Practically all other on-screen navigation is in the lower half of the screen, which made that finger travel feel inefficient.

Beyond that one interface annoyance, though, I was largely impressed by the B&N’s otherwise clean, logical software design. B&N clearly gave some thought to the layout, and to how things operate. The interface is good, at times even great–but not perfect.

An example is how B&N has implemented its notes and highlights features. Really, these are the most usable examples of such features that I’ve seen on an e-reader to date. Tap and hold your finger on a word to select it; then you can either drag the pins to select a passage, or choose an action such as adding a note or looking up the word in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Unfortunately, I had trouble grabbing quotation marks to complete a passage; also, right now you can’t view all notes, highlights, or a combination of the two. Instead, you just see a teaser of the passage under a tab for Notes and Highlights in the table of contents. B&N says it expects to offer some way to view and share notes and highlights when it launches the My Nook portal, but that portal isn’t ready as of this update.

For now, you can view and share highlighted quotes with Gmail contacts, via Facebook or Twitter. You can also share information about books you’re reading, to make a recommendation, post your reading status, rate and review a book, or like it on Facebook. Nook has the same Nook Friends capabilities as on Nook Color; this social platform moves reading away from being a solitary exercise, but it does so in a less intrusive, less all-about-me way than on competitor Kobo’s social platform. And it makes these functions far easier than on Amazon’s Kindle.

Other Features

The e-reader runs Android 2.1, which makes changes and tweaks via firmware update viable. Sadly, as of now B&N says it has no plans for opening up its E Ink Nook to apps. The device also has no Web browser, and no on-board e-mail, disappointing omissions given how central these can be to reading.

Setting up the 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi was easy, and the device automatically searches for and reconnects to your last network, even when booting up after a complete shutdown. Users get free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots nationwide.

Battery life should be up notably: Barnes & Noble says that the Nook can last up to 2 months on a single charge, with the Wi-Fi turned off. We’ll have to check in later with an update on how its battery life does in the real world.

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Barnes & Noble’S First Pubit! In

Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is launching their first in-store promotion event for their “PubIt!” self-publishing platform tonight in its Santa Monica, CA store. For those not lucky enough to be in Santa Monica, you can head to your local Barnes & Noble this Saturday, February 26, to take a guided tour of the NOOK Color and get a free tall cup of Starbucks coffee.

Barnes & Noble is hosting the event tonight to show that when you publish with PubIt! you get lots of marketing and promotion support in stores as well as other unique marketing and merchandising opportunities via their Nook Bookstore. More than 11,000 independent publishers and self-publishing authors have brought their works to the platform, adding more than 65,000 new works to the Barnes & Noble NOOK Bookstore that currently has over two million digital titles.

“The variety and quality of the content we are seeing through PubIt! is beyond our expectations,” said Theresa Horner, Barnes & Noble’s Vice President of Digital Content. “We are thrilled with our initial sales for PubIt! titles as our millions of customers enjoy exploring newly added works from PubIt! writers and publishers.”

“This in-store PubIt! event is a continuation of bringing the digital and physical reading worlds together,” said Horner. “We recognize the importance of uniting the reader with the author regardless of the book format, and we look forward to conducting many more events to support our PubIt! authors in our bookstore.”

Press Release:

More than 11,000 Independent Publishers and

Self-Publishing Authors Bring Their Digital Works to

Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!™ Publishing Platform

Company Launches First In-Store Event Featuring Popular PubIt! Authors,

Expanding Online Visibility to Retail Channel

35 PubIt! Titles Currently Among Top 200 NOOK Books™

“The variety and quality of the content we are seeing through PubIt! is beyond our expectations,” said Theresa Horner, Barnes & Noble’s Vice President, Digital Content. “We are thrilled with our initial sales for PubIt! titles as our millions of customers enjoy exploring newly added works from PubIt! writers and publishers.”

“This in-store PubIt! event is a continuation of Barnes & Noble’s strategy of bringing the digital and physical reading worlds together,” said Horner. “We recognize the importance of uniting the reader with the author regardless of the book format, and we look forward to conducting many more events to support our PubIt! authors in our bookstores.”

In addition to in-store events, Barnes & Noble offers PubIt! authors and publishers access to the unique marketing and merchandising opportunities through the NOOK Bookstore, a PubIt! bestseller list and additional exposure through the Read In Store™ program available for NOOK Color™ and NOOK™ device customers in the company’s more than 700 bookstores across the country.

Authors have found great success with PubIt!. H.P. Mallory, author of Toil and Trouble, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, and To Kill a Warlock, calls PubIt!, “an incredible chúng tôi of the best decisions I ever made.” Mallory’s paranormal romance books have become such a hit that she just signed a three-book deal with a major publishing house. Lori Brighton, author of A Night of Secrets, The Mind Readersand The Ghost Hunter, says, “PubIt! places publishing in the author’s hands, which benefits not only the author, but also the reader.”

With clear and competitive terms – and no hidden fees – the self-service online PubIt! portal provides qualified content owners a simple and profitable way to bring their works to millions of new readers. PubIt! uses a Web-based platform for publishers to independently set up their accounts, upload their eBooks, set the list price and track their sales and payments from a competitive royalty based on the price. PubIt! publishers can be confident they will be compensated from the list price they set with no additional charges, regardless of file size. Publishers’ content is offered in ePub format, the industry standard that allows content to be enjoyed by customers on hundreds of the most popular mobile, computing and eReading devices.

About NOOK™ from Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK brand of eReading products makes it easy to read what you love, anywhere you like™ with a fun, easy-to-use and immersive digital reading experience. With NOOK, customers gain access to Barnes & Noble’s expansive NOOK Bookstore™ of more than two million digital titles, and the ability to enjoy content across a wide array of popular devices. NOOK products are the most full-featured, dedicated eReading devices on the market. NOOK Color ($249), the first full-color touch Reader’s Tablet, provides the ultimate reading experience with a stunning 7-inch VividView™ Color Touchscreen to read all of the content you love. For book lovers, NOOK 3G ($199) and NOOK Wi-Fi® ($149) offer a paper-like reading experience with a color touch screen for navigation. In Barnes & Noble stores, NOOK owners can access free Wi-Fi connectivity, enjoy the Read In Store™ feature to read NOOK Books for free, and the More In Store™ program, which offers free, exclusive content and special promotions. Barnes & Noble was the first company to offer digital lending for a wide selection of books through its LendMe™ technology, available through NOOK eReading products. Find NOOK devices in Barnes & Noble stores and online at chúng tôi as well as at Best Buy, Walmart and Books-A-Million.

ABOUT BARNES & NOBLE, INC.

NOOK™, NOOK Color™, NOOK Books™, NOOK Newsstand™, NOOK Books en Español™, VividView™, NOOK Friends™, AliveTouch™, LendMe™, ArticleView™, Daily Shelf™, NOOK Kids™, NOOK Study™, NOOK Developer™, ReadAloud™, NOOK Book Personal Shopping™, Read In Store™, More In Store™, Free Friday™, PubIt! ™, Lifetime Library™, Read What You Love. Anywhere You Like™ and Touch the Future of Reading™ are trademarks of Barnes & Noble, Inc. Other trademarks referenced in this release are the property of their respective owners.

Nook Tablet Review: Barnes & Noble’s Worthy Alternative To The Kindle Fire

The $250 (as of November 16, 2011) Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet provides solid competition for Amazon’s Kindle Fire–and it even outdoes the Kindle Fire on many counts. This is Barnes & Noble’s second-generation device, a follow-up to last year’s Nook Color, which now drops to $200, the same price as the Kindle Fire.

In its interface and its physical design, the Nook Tablet resembles the Nook Color, but it has better specs and some new software integrations. The additions are compelling; and as an e-reader, the Nook Tablet continues to excel. However, when compared against the larger array of available tablet models, the Nook Tablet suffers from some of the same weaknesses that affect the Kindle Fire.

The Nook Tablet’s main weakness–like the Kindle Fire’s—is that it isn’t a full-featured tablet. It lacks components such as built-in Bluetooth, stereo speakers, GPS, and front- and rear-facing cameras, most of which are common elements of tablets today. It also doesn’t possess some common tablet capabilities, such as navigating primary tablet screens (for example, the home screen and content libraries) in landscape mode. Another omission: You can’t view folders of images and movies in the included image gallery–all of the media thumbnails end up in one big bucket. (Barnes & Noble says that it plans to address this issue in a future update.)

Still, the Nook Tablet’s low price will make it appealing to fans of both e-readers and tablets. In fact, it’s priced low enough to sway some consumers who might have been considering an iPad 2, which has a larger display, but also costs twice as much. Considering the Nook Tablet’s competitive price and beefy specs, makers of other so-called “value” tablets (including Amazon, with its Kindle Fire tablet) may find that it poses a serious challenge.

(See the related story “Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet: Which Should You Buy?” for a head-to-head comparison between the two.)

Impressive Specs

This tablet’s beefed-up horsepower–in comparison to the earlier Nook Color e-reader’s–really counts. The dual-core 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4 CPU and 1GB of RAM made switching from app to app a breeze, with little lag or stuttering. Movies played smoothly and stutter-free in Netflix, and the high-definition images re-rendered for Nook’s 1024-by-600-pixel display looked lovely, with terrific contrast.

The Nook Tablet has 16GB of storage on board, but only 1GB is available for user content. For the rest of your media files, you’ll need to bring your own MicroSD card (up to 32GB).

The Nook Tablet’s display was dazzling overall. It’s similar to the one on the Nook Color, but Barnes & Noble says that the new display incorporates some improvements from the company’s display supplier.

Those improvements–and not software enhancements–account for the Nook Tablet’s superior handling of whites and browns. In a test image, for example, skin tones and a brown sweater looked far more realistic on the Nook Tablet than on the Nook Color.

The screen’s glare was minimal, thanks to what Barnes & Noble calls its VividView display. The IPS display is laminated and bonded; so unlike on other tablets’ displays–including the Kindle Fire’s–there’s no annoying, visible air gap between the glass screen and the LCD beneath.

That’s not to say that glare has completely disappeared on the Nook Tablet, but the difference is obvious in a side-by-side comparison. The VividView display also enhances the contrast and viewing angle of the Nook Tablet versus the Kindle Fire. The difference in the screen is quite evident when you view a Nook Tablet side by side with the Kindle Fire. Couple the display with the Nook Tablet’s superior font sizes and style choices plus better text rendering, and you have a nicer environment for reading.

The tablet felt noticeably lighter than the Nook Color, even though the difference on paper–1.7 ounces–seem negligible. Still, I could feel the difference when holding the tablet in one hand, as I often do when using one.

Next to the Kindle Fire, the weight difference is less evident. Only hundredths of a pound separate the two (the Nook Tablet weighs 0.88 pound, whereas the Kindle Fire is 0.91 pound), and their balance feels quite different because of their different dimensions (the Nook Tablet is about 0.67 inch taller than the Kindle Fire).

Where Are the Apps?

Apps are the lifeblood of any tablet–as can be seen from the thriving 100,000+ strong app ecosystem for the Apple iPad. Android tablets have struggled, though, in part because of the fragmentation caused by different Android OS versions and different screen sizes. Among competing, full-blown 7-inch tablets, the latest models from Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, and leading tablet makers use Google’s Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system, which was optimized for the larger screen sizes of tablets. Other models–particularly those produced by budget-conscious tablet makers–use some version of Android 2.2 or Android 2.3, neither of which was intended for use on tablets. In either case, finding apps that fit a tablet screen and look appropriate on a tablet has been an ongoing issue for Android tablets in general, and especially so for 7-inch tablets based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Barnes & Noble based the Nook Tablet OS on Android 2.3, but the company doesn’t include support for the Android Market. Instead, apps are funneled through B&N’s own, growing app store. B&N has over 1000 apps at launch, and expects to offer “thousands” by year’s end.

Navigating the Nook Tablet

With the original Nook Color, Barnes & Noble’s operating system–a variant initially built on the Android 2.2 OS–evolved in keeping with the Nook Tablet’s alignment into the bigger tablet universe.

The Nook Tablet takes that integration to a higher level, but only for some apps. At launch, the flagship example is Netflix, whose tablet-optimized app and options are accessible from the Nook Tablet’s home screen. You can access your Netflix viewing history and recommendations from the home screen and from the home screen’s More menu–a convenient and logical move, given the Nook Tablet’s aim to embrace its full tablet potential from the get-go, and given that Barnes & Noble lacks the direct digital-storefront tie-ins that Amazon’s Kindle Fire offers. Barnes & Noble says that it will announce content partnerships in early 2012; until then, you’re limited primarily to streaming services such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, Pandora, and Rhapsody. Granted, you can sideload music and video to the MicroSD card, but the software apps included for playing such files are woefully inadequate for a tablet.

As a whole, apps are now treated in much the same way as book and periodical content. You can reach all of them through the recently accessed bar along the bottom of the home screen, and you can pin any of them to the home screen for easy one-tap access. I appreciated that this area didn’t get cluttered with specific, recently played video or music selections–as happens on the Kindle Fire.

For all of its expansion to embrace apps and multimedia, the Nook Tablet continues to be optimized for reading, as is clear from the display, from the well-designed reading interface for accessing and buying books, and from the tablet’s visual presentation of periodicals.

Children’s books are also presented better here than on the Kindle Fire. The new Read and Record feature in children’s books is especially compelling; it worked very well when I tried it. I could create my own audio track to accompany a book, a feature with special appeal for families with a loved one who travels or is far away. I hope we’ll see the mic incorporated into other applications. Regrettably, video chat won’t be one of those applications, since B&N didn’t include a front-facing camera.

What Barnes & Noble Missed

The Nook Tablet is missing such common tablet features as Bluetooth, stereo speakers, a GPS, and front- and rear-facing cameras. The Nook Color omitted those features as well, but considering that the Nook Tablet calls itself a tablet and is trying to compete with tablets, Barnes & Noble should have added at least some of them.

Admittedly, some of the “value” competition lacks Google services and cameras, too; but the Nook Tablet’s core specs are good enough for it to play in the big kids’ sandbox, alongside 7-inch Android Honeycomb tablets from the likes of Samsung and Toshiba.

The Nook Tablet would stand up better to the competition if it had added a more competitive feature set.

I would also like to have seen B&N step up the display’s resolution. B&N’s bonded and laminated VividView display qualities significantly improve the display’s quality, but in some fonts, I could still see pixelation in the text.

I prefer the smooth text rendering of higher-resolution displays, such as those offered by Toshiba’s 7” Thrive and T-Mobile’s SpringBoard, two Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablets that have raised their display resolution to 1280 by 800 pixels. And even Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus–another Honeycomb tablet, but one that has the same resolution as the Nook Tablet–does a better job of text rendering than the Nook Tablet.

Though B&N clearly missed a few opportunities to forge ahead of the 7-inch tablet pack, these omissions were undoubtedly carefully calculated trade-offs necessitated by the need to achieve an attractive price. And attractive it is: At $250, the Nook Tablet is a bargain compared with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus (shipping now) and the Thrive 7” (shipping in December), both priced at $399. It’s also far cheaper than the SpringBoard ($440 across its two-year contract, plus monthly mobile broadband payments).

If you’re still wondering whether this model is right for you, see our detailed report on how the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire match up across nearly a dozen criteria. The bottom line? Though the Nook Tablet lacks the flexibility of a full-featured tablet, it excels at reading, and it offers a smattering of solid streaming media services. For those reasons alone, the Nook Tablet edges out the Kindle Fire, by a hair. The Kindle Fire, not surprisingly, has tighter integration with Amazon’s storefront services, which makes getting music, movies, and TV easier than doing so on the Nook Tablet.

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Adds Touchscreen, Improves Interface

Updated: 11/22/2011

As soon as I removed the new Barnes & Noble Nook from its box, I could tell that this petite e-reader was going to be a worthy challenger to the third-generation Amazon Kindle. Impressively, when I tested the Nook and its new touchscreen, I found that it does indeed out-Kindle the Kindle at its own game in some respects; but in others, the Nook falls shy of topping Amazon’s e-reading staple.

The new Nook Simple Touch ($99 as of 11/22/2011) has been completely redesigned, yet retains the same moniker as the original Nook, which is now referred to as Nook First Edition. That year-and-a-half-old Nook missed the mark with a clunky LCD screen for navigating the E-Ink display above it. This new Nook is lighter, more svelte, and introduces Neonode’s Zeforce infrared touch technology to simplify access and navigation, as well as a Wi-Fi connection.

An E-Reader for Reading

Where the Nook First Edition’s weight and size made it bulky, unwieldly, and generally unpleasant to use, the new Nook is the polar opposite: It weighs 0.47 pounds–35 percent lighter than the original Nook, and slightly lighter than the third-generation Kindle Keyboard (0.60 pounds), and slightly heavier than the fourth-generation $79 Kindle With Special Offers (0.37 pounds). It’s also more compact–6 percent thinner and more than an inch shorter the first Nook. It now measures 6.5 by 5.0 by 0.47 inches–notably smaller than its older sibling. That makes it half-an-inch wider than the fourth-gen Kindle.

In hand, the difference between the two versions is palpable. The new Nook is clearly made for curling up with and holding in one hand for an hours-long dive into another universe; that’s exactly what I did with it on its maiden voyage. Its size and weight do make it easier to hold than the First Edition, and it’s even slightly easier to hold than the current Amazon Kindle, which integrates a physical keyboard and has no touchscreen display. It’s remarkably well-balanced to hold, be it in one hand or two; I found it quite comfortable to hold with my thumbs along the bottom bezel, and my index fingers and forefingers bracing the back.

The physical shape of Nook is pleasing in-hand, too: The e-reader’s front and back both have a textured rubber finish, much like you’ll find on a cell phone. The backplate cover dips in; those millimeters effectively give the Nook a built-in grip to make it even easier to hold. Nice touch.

Now that the Nook has a touchscreen, most navigation will be done on the display, not via the buttons. As on the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet, the main home button is a lowercase “n” beneath the screen. Here, the “n” starts the display’s wake-up process (as with cell phones, you also have to slide your finger along the screen to wake it fully), and returns you to the quick navigation buttons on-screen. These buttons are similar to the ones that were the central navigation mode on Nook First Edition, but they’ve been refreshed and updated to reflect the new Nook’s interface, and bring it in line with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet. Gone are options like “the daily” and “reading now”–both of these options have been combined under the “home” screen, which shows what you’re reading now, what’s new in your library (be they new purchases or newly delivered subscriptions), and, at bottom, what to read next based on B&N’s recommendation engine.

Design

The Nook has a power button on the back top that feels well-matched to a fingertip, but the button is surprisingly noisy, and borderline chintzy, when I pressed on it. This button doubles as another way to wake the e-reader, and can power down the unit entirely. Good thing you can, because this was the only way to fix a snafu I ran into with the on-board Shop: After some use, the Shop would no longer connect to the server, in spite of the Wi-Fi connection working fine. To rectify this, I had to power off the device and reboot it. B&N is looking into the problem, but didn’t have an answer for me as to why it happened in the first place. (Editors’ Note: Six months later, this hasn’t been an issue.)

My biggest gripe with the Nook’s design happens to be with its physical navigation buttons. The easy-to-depress, outward-facing buttons on Nook First Edition have been replaced by cheap-feeling, raised rubber strips that run along the left and right bezel. The buttons are stiff and require a very precise and deep press to activate; and even though your finger can bleed a bit towards the edge of the e-reader and still manage to activate the button action, ultimately the experience is nothing like the buttons on Nook First Edition and on Kindle, which are both easier to depress and can work with your whole finger, not just your fingertip. If you’re wedded to the use of buttons for changing pages, I’d actually steer you away from this Nook–that’s how poorly implemented I consider these buttons. And that’s a disappointment, since the new Nook gets so much else right.

Now, if you’re comfortable with the idea of swipes and on-screen touches, then Nook is a great choice. The fully redesigned interface is finger-friendly, and makes it easy to navigate and perform operations with the touch of a finger. And I found the touchscreen highly responsive; the on-screen keyboard even kept up with my speedy touch-typing. (See “Remodeled Interface” below for more on the touchscreen navigation.)

The case is now charcoal gray, as opposed to white, a move that helps enhance readability. But that wasn’t the only step B&N took to boost the readability of the display.

The significant remaining addition to the Nook is its new E-Ink Pearl display. E-Ink Pearl brings Nook up to speed with the other monochrome e-readers on the market today. The new Nook uses the same 6-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Pearl display that Amazon and Sony integrated in their e-readers last summer and fall, respectively, and the same display as in Kobo’s eReader Touch Edition. The Pearl display is known for providing better contrast than earlier-generation E-Ink displays, but oddly, in my hands-on tests with the three e-readers side-by-side, I observed different results.

As it originally shipped, I found that the new Nook’s display provided only nominally better contrast than the one on Nook First Edition, and that the Amazon Kindle actually has the best contrast of the three, with blacker blacks, and a brighter gray background than on the new Nook. I had the three e-readers set to similar text passages, with closely matching if not identical fonts (at the least, I observed behavior with all e-readers set to nonserif fonts, and to serif fonts). However, the Kindle and the new Nook flipped places on the home-screen display: There, the Nook looked better than the Kindle. I chalk this up to the vagaries of the different fonts and text sizes, and to the fact that these differences cause the blacks to appear different on the different devices. They’re close, but by no means identical, in spite of using the same display technology.

In November 2011, Nook Simple Touch got a firmware update that greatlly improved the contrast of the text and graphics. Blacks made are darker than before, which makes text easier to read and graphics jump off the screen. I’d put the Nook’s text quality now as the best I’ve seen among E Ink e-readers. And the viewing options are more flexible than Amazon’s Kindle or Kindle Touch; Nook has six fonts and eight font sizes to choose from.

The update also improved on B&N’s already speedy page refresh rates and page turns. The e-reader still does a full refresh once every sixth page, but by doing what manifest as fast dissolves between pages, B&N lets you effectively rapidly page ahead dozens of pages, while mitigating the annoying page-flashing effect long associated with E Ink. B&N does targeted refreshes on a page that has just graphics changing (for example, in the e-reader’s bookstore), and on areas that will have a heavy redraw.

Remodeled Interface

Though touch makes the Nook easy to navigate, occasionally where you can swipe and where you can’t isn’t always clear. For example, you can swipe through some modules in the bookstore, down on some pages, but not on others. For the most part, this is stuff you’ll learn through trial and error, and doing so is not hard.

Similarly, I found it annoying that in the interface, I’d often have to move my hand all the way up to the top to find the X to close out of a page. Practically all other on-screen navigation is in the lower half of the screen, which made that finger travel feel inefficient.

Beyond that one interface annoyance, though, I was largely impressed by the B&N’s otherwise clean, logical software design. B&N clearly gave some thought to the layout, and to how things operate. The interface is good, at times even great–but not perfect.

An example is how B&N has implemented its notes and highlights features. Really, these are the most usable examples of such features that I’ve seen on an e-reader to date. Tap and hold your finger on a word to select it; then you can either drag the pins to select a passage, or choose an action such as adding a note or looking up the word in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Unfortunately, I had trouble grabbing quotation marks to complete a passage; also, right now you can’t view all notes, highlights, or a combination of the two. Instead, you just see a teaser of the passage under a tab for Notes and Highlights in the table of contents. B&N says it expects to offer some way to view and share notes and highlights when it launches the My Nook portal, but that portal isn’t ready as of this update.

For now, you can view and share highlighted quotes with Gmail contacts, via Facebook or Twitter. You can also share information about books you’re reading, to make a recommendation, post your reading status, rate and review a book, or like it on Facebook. Nook has the same Nook Friends capabilities as on Nook Color; this social platform moves reading away from being a solitary exercise, but it does so in a less intrusive, less all-about-me way than on competitor Kobo’s social platform. And it makes these functions far easier than on Amazon’s Kindle.

Other Features

The e-reader runs Android 2.1, which makes changes and tweaks via firmware update viable. Sadly, as of now B&N says it has no plans for opening up its E Ink Nook to apps. The device also has no Web browser, and no on-board e-mail, disappointing omissions given how central these can be to reading.

Setting up the 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi was easy, and the device automatically searches for and reconnects to your last network, even when booting up after a complete shutdown. Users get free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots nationwide.

Battery life should be up notably: Barnes & Noble says that the Nook can last up to 2 months on a single charge, with the Wi-Fi turned off. We’ll have to check in later with an update on how its battery life does in the real world.

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Adds Touchscreen, Improves Interface

Updated: 11/22/2011

As soon as I removed the new Barnes & Noble Nook from its box, I could tell that this petite e-reader was going to be a worthy challenger to the third-generation Amazon Kindle. Impressively, when I tested the Nook and its new touchscreen, I found that it does indeed out-Kindle the Kindle at its own game in some respects; but in others, the Nook falls shy of topping Amazon’s e-reading staple.

The new Nook Simple Touch ($99 as of 11/22/2011) has been completely redesigned, yet retains the same moniker as the original Nook, which is now referred to as Nook First Edition. That year-and-a-half-old Nook missed the mark with a clunky LCD screen for navigating the E-Ink display above it. This new Nook is lighter, more svelte, and introduces Neonode’s Zeforce infrared touch technology to simplify access and navigation, as well as a Wi-Fi connection.

An E-Reader for Reading

Where the Nook First Edition’s weight and size made it bulky, unwieldly, and generally unpleasant to use, the new Nook is the polar opposite: It weighs 0.47 pounds–35 percent lighter than the original Nook, and slightly lighter than the third-generation Kindle Keyboard (0.60 pounds), and slightly heavier than the fourth-generation $79 Kindle With Special Offers (0.37 pounds). It’s also more compact–6 percent thinner and more than an inch shorter the first Nook. It now measures 6.5 by 5.0 by 0.47 inches–notably smaller than its older sibling. That makes it half-an-inch wider than the fourth-gen Kindle.

In hand, the difference between the two versions is palpable. The new Nook is clearly made for curling up with and holding in one hand for an hours-long dive into another universe; that’s exactly what I did with it on its maiden voyage. Its size and weight do make it easier to hold than the First Edition, and it’s even slightly easier to hold than the current Amazon Kindle, which integrates a physical keyboard and has no touchscreen display. It’s remarkably well-balanced to hold, be it in one hand or two; I found it quite comfortable to hold with my thumbs along the bottom bezel, and my index fingers and forefingers bracing the back.

The physical shape of Nook is pleasing in-hand, too: The e-reader’s front and back both have a textured rubber finish, much like you’ll find on a cell phone. The backplate cover dips in; those millimeters effectively give the Nook a built-in grip to make it even easier to hold. Nice touch.

Now that the Nook has a touchscreen, most navigation will be done on the display, not via the buttons. As on the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet, the main home button is a lowercase “n” beneath the screen. Here, the “n” starts the display’s wake-up process (as with cell phones, you also have to slide your finger along the screen to wake it fully), and returns you to the quick navigation buttons on-screen. These buttons are similar to the ones that were the central navigation mode on Nook First Edition, but they’ve been refreshed and updated to reflect the new Nook’s interface, and bring it in line with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet. Gone are options like “the daily” and “reading now”–both of these options have been combined under the “home” screen, which shows what you’re reading now, what’s new in your library (be they new purchases or newly delivered subscriptions), and, at bottom, what to read next based on B&N’s recommendation engine.

Design

The Nook has a power button on the back top that feels well-matched to a fingertip, but the button is surprisingly noisy, and borderline chintzy, when I pressed on it. This button doubles as another way to wake the e-reader, and can power down the unit entirely. Good thing you can, because this was the only way to fix a snafu I ran into with the on-board Shop: After some use, the Shop would no longer connect to the server, in spite of the Wi-Fi connection working fine. To rectify this, I had to power off the device and reboot it. B&N is looking into the problem, but didn’t have an answer for me as to why it happened in the first place. (Editors’ Note: Six months later, this hasn’t been an issue.)

My biggest gripe with the Nook’s design happens to be with its physical navigation buttons. The easy-to-depress, outward-facing buttons on Nook First Edition have been replaced by cheap-feeling, raised rubber strips that run along the left and right bezel. The buttons are stiff and require a very precise and deep press to activate; and even though your finger can bleed a bit towards the edge of the e-reader and still manage to activate the button action, ultimately the experience is nothing like the buttons on Nook First Edition and on Kindle, which are both easier to depress and can work with your whole finger, not just your fingertip. If you’re wedded to the use of buttons for changing pages, I’d actually steer you away from this Nook–that’s how poorly implemented I consider these buttons. And that’s a disappointment, since the new Nook gets so much else right.

Now, if you’re comfortable with the idea of swipes and on-screen touches, then Nook is a great choice. The fully redesigned interface is finger-friendly, and makes it easy to navigate and perform operations with the touch of a finger. And I found the touchscreen highly responsive; the on-screen keyboard even kept up with my speedy touch-typing. (See “Remodeled Interface” below for more on the touchscreen navigation.)

The case is now charcoal gray, as opposed to white, a move that helps enhance readability. But that wasn’t the only step B&N took to boost the readability of the display.

The significant remaining addition to the Nook is its new E-Ink Pearl display. E-Ink Pearl brings Nook up to speed with the other monochrome e-readers on the market today. The new Nook uses the same 6-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Pearl display that Amazon and Sony integrated in their e-readers last summer and fall, respectively, and the same display as in Kobo’s eReader Touch Edition. The Pearl display is known for providing better contrast than earlier-generation E-Ink displays, but oddly, in my hands-on tests with the three e-readers side-by-side, I observed different results.

As it originally shipped, I found that the new Nook’s display provided only nominally better contrast than the one on Nook First Edition, and that the Amazon Kindle actually has the best contrast of the three, with blacker blacks, and a brighter gray background than on the new Nook. I had the three e-readers set to similar text passages, with closely matching if not identical fonts (at the least, I observed behavior with all e-readers set to nonserif fonts, and to serif fonts). However, the Kindle and the new Nook flipped places on the home-screen display: There, the Nook looked better than the Kindle. I chalk this up to the vagaries of the different fonts and text sizes, and to the fact that these differences cause the blacks to appear different on the different devices. They’re close, but by no means identical, in spite of using the same display technology.

In November 2011, Nook Simple Touch got a firmware update that greatlly improved the contrast of the text and graphics. Blacks made are darker than before, which makes text easier to read and graphics jump off the screen. I’d put the Nook’s text quality now as the best I’ve seen among E Ink e-readers. And the viewing options are more flexible than Amazon’s Kindle or Kindle Touch; Nook has six fonts and eight font sizes to choose from.

The update also improved on B&N’s already speedy page refresh rates and page turns. The e-reader still does a full refresh once every sixth page, but by doing what manifest as fast dissolves between pages, B&N lets you effectively rapidly page ahead dozens of pages, while mitigating the annoying page-flashing effect long associated with E Ink. B&N does targeted refreshes on a page that has just graphics changing (for example, in the e-reader’s bookstore), and on areas that will have a heavy redraw.

Remodeled Interface

Though touch makes the Nook easy to navigate, occasionally where you can swipe and where you can’t isn’t always clear. For example, you can swipe through some modules in the bookstore, down on some pages, but not on others. For the most part, this is stuff you’ll learn through trial and error, and doing so is not hard.

Similarly, I found it annoying that in the interface, I’d often have to move my hand all the way up to the top to find the X to close out of a page. Practically all other on-screen navigation is in the lower half of the screen, which made that finger travel feel inefficient.

Beyond that one interface annoyance, though, I was largely impressed by the B&N’s otherwise clean, logical software design. B&N clearly gave some thought to the layout, and to how things operate. The interface is good, at times even great–but not perfect.

An example is how B&N has implemented its notes and highlights features. Really, these are the most usable examples of such features that I’ve seen on an e-reader to date. Tap and hold your finger on a word to select it; then you can either drag the pins to select a passage, or choose an action such as adding a note or looking up the word in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Unfortunately, I had trouble grabbing quotation marks to complete a passage; also, right now you can’t view all notes, highlights, or a combination of the two. Instead, you just see a teaser of the passage under a tab for Notes and Highlights in the table of contents. B&N says it expects to offer some way to view and share notes and highlights when it launches the My Nook portal, but that portal isn’t ready as of this update.

For now, you can view and share highlighted quotes with Gmail contacts, via Facebook or Twitter. You can also share information about books you’re reading, to make a recommendation, post your reading status, rate and review a book, or like it on Facebook. Nook has the same Nook Friends capabilities as on Nook Color; this social platform moves reading away from being a solitary exercise, but it does so in a less intrusive, less all-about-me way than on competitor Kobo’s social platform. And it makes these functions far easier than on Amazon’s Kindle.

Other Features

The e-reader runs Android 2.1, which makes changes and tweaks via firmware update viable. Sadly, as of now B&N says it has no plans for opening up its E Ink Nook to apps. The device also has no Web browser, and no on-board e-mail, disappointing omissions given how central these can be to reading.

Setting up the 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi was easy, and the device automatically searches for and reconnects to your last network, even when booting up after a complete shutdown. Users get free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots nationwide.

Battery life should be up notably: Barnes & Noble says that the Nook can last up to 2 months on a single charge, with the Wi-Fi turned off. We’ll have to check in later with an update on how its battery life does in the real world.

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Adds Touchscreen, Improves Interface

Updated: 11/22/2011

As soon as I removed the new Barnes & Noble Nook from its box, I could tell that this petite e-reader was going to be a worthy challenger to the third-generation Amazon Kindle. Impressively, when I tested the Nook and its new touchscreen, I found that it does indeed out-Kindle the Kindle at its own game in some respects; but in others, the Nook falls shy of topping Amazon’s e-reading staple.

The new Nook Simple Touch ($99 as of 11/22/2011) has been completely redesigned, yet retains the same moniker as the original Nook, which is now referred to as Nook First Edition. That year-and-a-half-old Nook missed the mark with a clunky LCD screen for navigating the E-Ink display above it. This new Nook is lighter, more svelte, and introduces Neonode’s Zeforce infrared touch technology to simplify access and navigation, as well as a Wi-Fi connection.

An E-Reader for Reading

Where the Nook First Edition’s weight and size made it bulky, unwieldly, and generally unpleasant to use, the new Nook is the polar opposite: It weighs 0.47 pounds–35 percent lighter than the original Nook, and slightly lighter than the third-generation Kindle Keyboard (0.60 pounds), and slightly heavier than the fourth-generation $79 Kindle With Special Offers (0.37 pounds). It’s also more compact–6 percent thinner and more than an inch shorter the first Nook. It now measures 6.5 by 5.0 by 0.47 inches–notably smaller than its older sibling. That makes it half-an-inch wider than the fourth-gen Kindle.

In hand, the difference between the two versions is palpable. The new Nook is clearly made for curling up with and holding in one hand for an hours-long dive into another universe; that’s exactly what I did with it on its maiden voyage. Its size and weight do make it easier to hold than the First Edition, and it’s even slightly easier to hold than the current Amazon Kindle, which integrates a physical keyboard and has no touchscreen display. It’s remarkably well-balanced to hold, be it in one hand or two; I found it quite comfortable to hold with my thumbs along the bottom bezel, and my index fingers and forefingers bracing the back.

The physical shape of Nook is pleasing in-hand, too: The e-reader’s front and back both have a textured rubber finish, much like you’ll find on a cell phone. The backplate cover dips in; those millimeters effectively give the Nook a built-in grip to make it even easier to hold. Nice touch.

Now that the Nook has a touchscreen, most navigation will be done on the display, not via the buttons. As on the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet, the main home button is a lowercase “n” beneath the screen. Here, the “n” starts the display’s wake-up process (as with cell phones, you also have to slide your finger along the screen to wake it fully), and returns you to the quick navigation buttons on-screen. These buttons are similar to the ones that were the central navigation mode on Nook First Edition, but they’ve been refreshed and updated to reflect the new Nook’s interface, and bring it in line with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet. Gone are options like “the daily” and “reading now”–both of these options have been combined under the “home” screen, which shows what you’re reading now, what’s new in your library (be they new purchases or newly delivered subscriptions), and, at bottom, what to read next based on B&N’s recommendation engine.

Design

The Nook has a power button on the back top that feels well-matched to a fingertip, but the button is surprisingly noisy, and borderline chintzy, when I pressed on it. This button doubles as another way to wake the e-reader, and can power down the unit entirely. Good thing you can, because this was the only way to fix a snafu I ran into with the on-board Shop: After some use, the Shop would no longer connect to the server, in spite of the Wi-Fi connection working fine. To rectify this, I had to power off the device and reboot it. B&N is looking into the problem, but didn’t have an answer for me as to why it happened in the first place. (Editors’ Note: Six months later, this hasn’t been an issue.)

My biggest gripe with the Nook’s design happens to be with its physical navigation buttons. The easy-to-depress, outward-facing buttons on Nook First Edition have been replaced by cheap-feeling, raised rubber strips that run along the left and right bezel. The buttons are stiff and require a very precise and deep press to activate; and even though your finger can bleed a bit towards the edge of the e-reader and still manage to activate the button action, ultimately the experience is nothing like the buttons on Nook First Edition and on Kindle, which are both easier to depress and can work with your whole finger, not just your fingertip. If you’re wedded to the use of buttons for changing pages, I’d actually steer you away from this Nook–that’s how poorly implemented I consider these buttons. And that’s a disappointment, since the new Nook gets so much else right.

Now, if you’re comfortable with the idea of swipes and on-screen touches, then Nook is a great choice. The fully redesigned interface is finger-friendly, and makes it easy to navigate and perform operations with the touch of a finger. And I found the touchscreen highly responsive; the on-screen keyboard even kept up with my speedy touch-typing. (See “Remodeled Interface” below for more on the touchscreen navigation.)

The case is now charcoal gray, as opposed to white, a move that helps enhance readability. But that wasn’t the only step B&N took to boost the readability of the display.

The significant remaining addition to the Nook is its new E-Ink Pearl display. E-Ink Pearl brings Nook up to speed with the other monochrome e-readers on the market today. The new Nook uses the same 6-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Pearl display that Amazon and Sony integrated in their e-readers last summer and fall, respectively, and the same display as in Kobo’s eReader Touch Edition. The Pearl display is known for providing better contrast than earlier-generation E-Ink displays, but oddly, in my hands-on tests with the three e-readers side-by-side, I observed different results.

As it originally shipped, I found that the new Nook’s display provided only nominally better contrast than the one on Nook First Edition, and that the Amazon Kindle actually has the best contrast of the three, with blacker blacks, and a brighter gray background than on the new Nook. I had the three e-readers set to similar text passages, with closely matching if not identical fonts (at the least, I observed behavior with all e-readers set to nonserif fonts, and to serif fonts). However, the Kindle and the new Nook flipped places on the home-screen display: There, the Nook looked better than the Kindle. I chalk this up to the vagaries of the different fonts and text sizes, and to the fact that these differences cause the blacks to appear different on the different devices. They’re close, but by no means identical, in spite of using the same display technology.

In November 2011, Nook Simple Touch got a firmware update that greatlly improved the contrast of the text and graphics. Blacks made are darker than before, which makes text easier to read and graphics jump off the screen. I’d put the Nook’s text quality now as the best I’ve seen among E Ink e-readers. And the viewing options are more flexible than Amazon’s Kindle or Kindle Touch; Nook has six fonts and eight font sizes to choose from.

The update also improved on B&N’s already speedy page refresh rates and page turns. The e-reader still does a full refresh once every sixth page, but by doing what manifest as fast dissolves between pages, B&N lets you effectively rapidly page ahead dozens of pages, while mitigating the annoying page-flashing effect long associated with E Ink. B&N does targeted refreshes on a page that has just graphics changing (for example, in the e-reader’s bookstore), and on areas that will have a heavy redraw.

Remodeled Interface

Though touch makes the Nook easy to navigate, occasionally where you can swipe and where you can’t isn’t always clear. For example, you can swipe through some modules in the bookstore, down on some pages, but not on others. For the most part, this is stuff you’ll learn through trial and error, and doing so is not hard.

Similarly, I found it annoying that in the interface, I’d often have to move my hand all the way up to the top to find the X to close out of a page. Practically all other on-screen navigation is in the lower half of the screen, which made that finger travel feel inefficient.

Beyond that one interface annoyance, though, I was largely impressed by the B&N’s otherwise clean, logical software design. B&N clearly gave some thought to the layout, and to how things operate. The interface is good, at times even great–but not perfect.

An example is how B&N has implemented its notes and highlights features. Really, these are the most usable examples of such features that I’ve seen on an e-reader to date. Tap and hold your finger on a word to select it; then you can either drag the pins to select a passage, or choose an action such as adding a note or looking up the word in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Unfortunately, I had trouble grabbing quotation marks to complete a passage; also, right now you can’t view all notes, highlights, or a combination of the two. Instead, you just see a teaser of the passage under a tab for Notes and Highlights in the table of contents. B&N says it expects to offer some way to view and share notes and highlights when it launches the My Nook portal, but that portal isn’t ready as of this update.

For now, you can view and share highlighted quotes with Gmail contacts, via Facebook or Twitter. You can also share information about books you’re reading, to make a recommendation, post your reading status, rate and review a book, or like it on Facebook. Nook has the same Nook Friends capabilities as on Nook Color; this social platform moves reading away from being a solitary exercise, but it does so in a less intrusive, less all-about-me way than on competitor Kobo’s social platform. And it makes these functions far easier than on Amazon’s Kindle.

Other Features

The e-reader runs Android 2.1, which makes changes and tweaks via firmware update viable. Sadly, as of now B&N says it has no plans for opening up its E Ink Nook to apps. The device also has no Web browser, and no on-board e-mail, disappointing omissions given how central these can be to reading.

Setting up the 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi was easy, and the device automatically searches for and reconnects to your last network, even when booting up after a complete shutdown. Users get free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots nationwide.

Battery life should be up notably: Barnes & Noble says that the Nook can last up to 2 months on a single charge, with the Wi-Fi turned off. We’ll have to check in later with an update on how its battery life does in the real world.

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