Friday, 21 June 2013

It arrived yesterday.

Chris's new e-book reader.

I want to call it the nobo (because that combines both names and sounds slightly rude) or the nookie (because that's very much more fun than a plain nook). Nookie is likely to stick, however.

In the box you get the nook itself, a USB cable and a basic manual; the main users guides are, not surprisingly, on the actual reader. It seems the nook reader software for Mac and PC have been dropped by B&N, though they do have a W8 app, but it's still possible to download them. Registering as a user is easy, but they require credit card details, even to download free content. Meh, as Johanna would say. Over the the Gutenberg project then. At some stage we'll probably try to use Caliber software to extract the books from Chris's Kobo in .epub format for use on the nookie. Memory capacity is smaller (forget how much now) but there is a slot for a micro SD card that makes it a non-issue at around £5 for 8Gb that will hold more books than most people could read in a lifetime.

After charging up on the computer I registered the device and popped a book in .epub format into the /books folder.

Overall it's much faster handling than the Kobo, and might even be realistically useful for other tasks. Text entry on the touch screen is no worse than the 2009 generation of smartphones, and all touches seemed to register and produce a quick response. The screen is slightly wider by a couple of mm, and the bezel around the edge much wider, making it rather less comfy to hold. I could very seriously imagine these being useful as devices for service engineers etc to carry rather than expensive iPads etc (Mike Hulley - take note if you're reading).

Operation is 'similar' to the Kobo, but the menu button on the front brings up a toolbar at the bottom of the screen, rather than just dumping the user straight to 'home' like the Kobo equivalent button. I'd say the Kobo software was designed for a non-computer user user, and is simple & intuitive at the expense of being clunky, while after just a few min fiddling, I'd say the nook software was designed for computer users and is consequently less intuitive but more functional and efficient. Last year, after evaluating several readers including the Kindle and Sony devices I bought a Kobo for my (80+ year old) mother, and she had no trouble reading with it - despite the poor performance of the Kobo software in terms of speed, I still think that it would be better than the nook in her hands.

So if you need a really cheap e-book reader that you can take on the beach, don't mind giving your credit card details up front to B&N (Kobo only ask for card details when you buy a book) then I'd recommend the nook. However there are a lot of cheap android tablets around now, and £50 will buy a 7" tablet of almost identical performance to my old HTC desire, on which tiny screen I read several books while on holiday in France last summer - and you can run Kobo, Kindle and nook applications on the one device. If you're willing to spend what a new Kobo cost last year, an £80 tablet will give a lot more power for surfing, watching movies etc, as well as a higher res screen, though still with short battery life.

Chris hasn't tried the nookie yet. Yesterday she'd had a challenging time, and was feeling too frazzled to try something new, but maybe tonight we'll give it a go.

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