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A better e-reader than a Nook?
Old 03-10-2012, 12:12 AM   #1
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A better e-reader than a Nook?

I've spent a couple weeks with our Nook 1st Edition, and there has to be a better way. I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you who have used a Nook and are now using anything else.

We bought it last June off Craigslist for $80. It's the original model without the color. It has an upper screen to display the text and a lower touch-sensitive (color) screen to manipulate the files & settings. Spouse downloaded a few freebies, used if for a couple weeks, and stopped. It just wasn't a compelling change for her.

Last week I took it to Las Vegas. It had been sitting around for a few months so I had to recharge it before I could upload a file from my hard drive (Scott Berkun's "Mindfire"). I eventually figured out the user interface after I'd uploaded three copies of Mindfire on it, but I was good to go. Maybe it's easier using WiFi instead of a USB cable.

The Nook seems heavy compared to a paperback, although it's lighter than a hardcover. The effective screen is only about 4"x6" because the rest of it is taken up with the touch-sensitive control screen at the bottom and the buttons around the perimeter.

The good news is that it can lay flat on the airplane tray table next to my meal, and unlike a paperback I don't have to juggle it to keep it open to my page while I'm eating or drinking. Of course the potential bad news would be spilling my coffee across the screen, as I'm wont to do with an occasional paperback.

The most annoying features of the Nook are the small text and the small display area. The larger the text, the fewer words and the more cycles of <stop reading><click a page button><watch the screen flicker><resume reading> I have to go through. I suspect that I'm reading more slowly on an e-reader than on a dead-tree book.

On a personal note, this display issue is extra annoying because when I'm reading in solitude, I've developed the habit of flossing my teeth. A hardback book is usually good for 3-4 teeth before I have to untangle from the floss to turn a page. Even a paperback is good for a couple of teeth before I finish the right-hand page. With the Nook it's one tooth at best. If I'm going to floss while using a Nook then I'm going to have to use a one-handed flossing tool.

The user interface is gradually teaching me how it's supposed to work. (This is a different system than "intuitive".) It gives good tactile feedback on the page-turning buttons. However I can never remember whether I'm supposed to simply click the power button or push & hold, and that button doesn't have much tactile feedback. (I eventually figure it out.) The touch-sensitive screen is way too touch-sensitive, and it shuts off while I'm staring at it before I've figured out what I'm trying to do. There's probably a setting I could tweak to give me more time... but the default is awfully short.

The most frustrating part of the user interface is endnotes. In a paper book, when I encounter a note in the text I'll flip to the back of the chapter and then to the back of the book. If I'm really organized then I'll insert a second paper bookmark at the notes so that I can easily flip back & forth.

Not so with the Nook, or perhaps there's a procedure that I haven't stumbled across. In Mindfire I would see a superscript number in the text indicating an endnote. But the screen of text isn't touch-sensitive, so I couldn't just tap the number of the endnote. Instead I had to activate the touch-sensitive screen at the bottom, pick "Go to", "Chapter", scroll through by swiping up the menu items like an Apple instead of pulling down the scroll bar like a PC, eventually find the "Notes" section, chase it around trying to tap it instead of scroll it, and then read the note. At that point I'd realize I had no "Back to the page you were on" button, and I hadn't memorized the damn page number.

I'm sure there's a way to set a bookmark for where you are before you try to navigate to the note. I'm sure there's an easier way to go back. But that's a degree of tweaking & setup that I'm just not interested in doing for every book that has an endnote.

The battery charge lasted less than a week. The especially annoying part of this was that it indicated over three-quarters charged before we boarded the airplane, and then two hours later (of a six-hour flight) it went from 50% to 3% in one cliff-drop instant. Then it shut down without warning, and when I recharged the battery the Nook had lost the page number in the book. But it's possible that this annoyance has been fixed on the newer models. In retrospect I could've shut off the WiFi for a much longer battery life.

However the learning curve and the "feature" set just don't seem worth the weight and the small reading area. I'd be interested in a screen that's at least 6"x9" (a trade paperback) if not bigger, as long as it doesn't weigh more than this Nook.

Our library lends a number of e-books, but the selection is very limited. Out of 100 "What's new" titles, only 17 were actually available and the rest were wait-listed. So I'm not going to get much library use out of an e-reader, and I'll continue reading their "Hot Picks" best-sellers in hardcopy.

Now that I'm burned out on the Nook, is it worth trying a newer Nook, or another e-reader? Or an iPad?
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:37 AM   #2
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Given the list of things that were problems for you, Nords, I wouldn't suggest buying anything else. My opinion after reading your post is that you just don't happen to like e-readers. That's ok! Absolutely nothing wrong with not liking e-readers, even though many people do.

I don't think that another e-reader is going to solve the e-book availability problem at your library, and or make your battery last for weeks if you must keep your 3G connection on all the time.

I think it's pretty cool to be able to carry a library of thousands of books in a small, light device that fits in my purse, and to be able to download a new book "on the fly"; instant gratification. I had the larger, more expensive Kindle (the "DX) as well, but gave it to my friend F. because I found that I prefer the smaller one and wasn't using the DX. I don't like to lug the bigger, heavier devices around with me.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:49 AM   #3
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This technology is in early stages, so I would expect lots of new feature, especially in the user interface, which is still crude. So things like scrolling, note taking and page access will get better. We just don't know when. Looking back on PC innovation, it may be a while.
A color device will be heavy and have short power duration. Touch screen also means glass and more weight. The Kindle DX might be worth looking into.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:20 AM   #4
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I had the first nook, probably the same one you have and had many of the same issues. Bought a Kindle, not the first one, but not the fire either, and love it. It's light weight, easy to use, has lots of available books, and seems to work all the time. Doesn't have the screen flash that the nook had, and always goes back to the last page I was reading. Even when the battery goes to zero. I can go two weeks on travel and not recharge with wifi off. Have not tried the script note look up, but believe it would be easy as the menu has a go to feature that takes you to the end, the beginning, last page, or a location you select. My only complaint is I wish the screen was a bit bigger. One feature I do like is I can be reading on the kindle (and I do most of my reading on that device) be on my ipad and it is in sync with the kindle, read some pages, go back to the kindle and sync and am on the right page to read again.

Perhaps the newer nooks are better, but my experience is that the kindle is much better and more user friendly.
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:13 AM   #5
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I have been reading books on my smart phone/pdas for10+ years. I like being able to hold the device in one hand and turn pages with my thumb. I have a kindle 3? and a kindle fire, neither of which is comfortable or convenient for reading. I have grown to despise holding a book to read either paperback or hardback. Most of my reading is for pleasure so display of graphs and charts is not that important on the phone.

edit: I never tried to floss my teeth while reading. I do eat with one hand and read with the other
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:29 AM   #6
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I've had a kindle for 2-1/2 yrs now and you have to pry it away from me. I love the flat e-ink display. It's great for reading outdoors. And the built in dictionary is awesome when I need to get a definition. So far I've read over 300 books on it which blows me away. I could read on my tablet, and sometimes do if the book has internet links or color graphics. For plain old books with just words, the kindle is my favorite.

One of my friends has a nook and she doesn't like it because she likes the feel of a book.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:44 AM   #7
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I have a plain Kindle and I like it for trips, especially. But I don't like that books with photos often have the photos left out of the Kindle edition. And the cost for a Kindle book keeps creeping up. It's often cheaper to buy a used version of a hardback or a new paperback.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:00 AM   #8
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I have a Kindle 2, and think it is a great devise. I also have a color Nook, that I also like, as it can do more in terms of using the internet and watching some video. Both are easy to use. I like the availability of books on Amazon, and if you go on the Kindle Forum, you will be able to snatch some pretty decent books free or for .99 as well. So, so easy to download. No usb cords needed. So, I rate the Kindle very high for what it is designed for, and the nook has also improved with each new generation.

If you just want it for reading and not browsing the internet, then finding a used Kindle 2 might work out good for you. The biggest draw as another poster mentioned is having the availability of carrying around with you maybe 100 books at a time. You will be surprised at how many you will accumulate, especially if you go on the forum I mentioned. Plus my library now offers Kindle books online for download.

I was running out of room for my books before I got my kindle. Actually had to clear out, cause I didn't have any more room. I will buy a paper book when it is informational, where I might need to keep going back and forth on it. But for novels, I think an e-reader is a great invention.
I heard about the flicker problem on the Nooks, but they have fixed that now. I find page turning on Kindle very smooth, and if you need very large text to read, it is not a big deal to push the button with you finger while you hold it to go to next page.

The battery will last much longer on the ink e-books, and you can read them easy in bright sunlight. They are also very easy on the eyes.

The new color ones are much more "sexy" and do more things, but reading long time frames might not be so good on your eyes, and your battery life will be shorter. Just a question of what is important to you.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:11 AM   #9
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I really enjoy my Nook. I find it the right size and weight and I like to be able to change the text size to what works best for me at the moment. A Nook is far lighter than a pile of books. It is easily readable at outdoor cafes in Paris, Rome and Geneva. The battery lasts for weeks at a time. It is small enough to not be a burden to those who believe in traveling light.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:58 AM   #10
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My iPad2 is the best e-reader I've ever seen, and I honestly enjoy using it for that purpose (among many other purposes).

I would say that every single one of your complaints are non-issues with the iPad (well, I wouldn't expect a week of battery life out of the iPad either, but that's inconsequential). All the others are resolved as far as I can tell.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:05 AM   #11
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My iPad2 is the best e-reader I've ever seen, and I honestly enjoy using it for that purpose (among many other purposes).

I would say that every single one of your complaints are non-issues with the iPad (well, I wouldn't expect a week of battery life out of the iPad either, but that's inconsequential). All the others are resolved as far as I can tell.

I love my iPad dearly and I've read a few books on mine, but if I could add a few caveats:
  • The iPad is a lovely reader indoors, but it's basically unuseable outdoors in any level of daylight.
  • It's also way heavier and larger, whereas Nooks & Kindles are highly portable. I'd imagine you could easily put the latter in a purse, not so with an iPad unless you have a really large handbag...
Otherwise I completely agree with Braumeister. The interface/user friendliness is magical (something most people can't appreciate until they've actually used an iPad for a few days).
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:32 AM   #12
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DW has a newer Nook Touch - the updated version of what you have. She likes it a lot. The whole screen is a touch screen so she doesn't have the split screen issues that bother you -- the controls simply come up on the page screen when needed. It also holds a charge for a long time. I have the Nook Color which is a limited tablet (back lit screen, email, browser). I like the Color as a reader (especially at night when I can skip having lights on). The main problem I have with it is a limited battery life (~8 hours). You really need to stay on top of the charge. If I didn't have a reader now I would consider the new iPad with the iris display.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:46 AM   #13
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Given the list of things that were problems for you, Nords, I wouldn't suggest buying anything else. My opinion after reading your post is that you just don't happen to like e-readers.
I don't think that another e-reader is going to solve the e-book availability problem at your library, and or make your battery last for weeks if you must keep your 3G connection on all the time.
You might have nailed it.

I didn't have to keep the Nook's 3G turned on, but I would have benefited from a more graceful battery discharge. It was like some gas tanks that indicate over a quarter of a tank and then plummet to zero in the next 50 miles.

I guess I'll start parsing through all the Kindle versions. (I've long since lost track of which does what and their features.) I'll give the Nook Touch a look too. Overall, though, it seems as if I'll still be packing magazines and a couple paperbacks for trips... and throwing them out as I finish them.
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:56 AM   #14
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Overall, though, it seems as if I'll still be packing magazines and a couple paperbacks for trips... and throwing them out as I finish them.
It was our trip to your fair state a couple of years ago that convinced DW and me to switch to e-readers. We lugged a ton of hard back library books along - way to much of a hassle. The e-readers are like carrying one book. An iPad could easily replace the books and the laptop. My Nook Color is close but not quite satisfactory enough as a laptop replacement to handle a long trip.
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:12 PM   #15
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For traveling (if you like to read) there is nothing better. But for stay at home reading, it may not be as compelling for you. Except for the time you might save going to the store or library to get a physical book.

Personally, I can enjoy both, and buy both.
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:17 PM   #16
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Check out the new iPad, it is supposed to have an awesome screen. I have the iPad2 and I like reading The Economist magazine on it. I have a netbook which has B&N reader and have read a couple books on it. All of them work, none are flawless but do check out the new iPad.
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:38 PM   #17
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W2R maybe right you may not be ereader person. Of the options out there the Nook was the one that I was least impressed by. For single function device the $79 or $99 black and white Kindle I think are the best. Lighter weight and easier to use, with much better battery life than the my Kindle Fire and much better in sunlight. The only thing that is missing is the ability to see color photographs. The basic Kindle are only good at reading books while the Kindle is marginally capable of email reading,web surfing,and angry birds.

I am not Apple person but to me the form factor of the iPad is just too big.I can't put it in my pocket, and I can't read it at the airport or DMV while waiting in line. Of course iPad have a lot of additional functionality.
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Old 03-10-2012, 01:10 PM   #18
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For single function device the $79 or $99 black and white Kindle I think are the best. Lighter weight and easier to use, with much better battery life than the my Kindle Fire and much better in sunlight. The only thing that is missing is the ability to see color photographs. The basic Kindle are only good at reading books while the Kindle is marginally capable of email reading,web surfing,and angry birds.
I am not Apple person but to me the form factor of the iPad is just too big.I can't put it in my pocket, and I can't read it at the airport or DMV while waiting in line. Of course iPad have a lot of additional functionality.
I liked using your first Kindle, and I'm going to have to explore the rest of their product line.

I think the iPad is better than hauling around a full-size laptop... until you want to type a complex, literate sentence. In my case I'd only make it for about five minutes.
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Old 03-10-2012, 01:26 PM   #19
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The iPad is a lovely reader indoors, but it's basically unuseable outdoors in any level of daylight.
I have to disagree somewhat with that comment.
While I rarely use mine outdoors, I find it to be excellent in any kind of shaded location. Maybe your brightness is turned down to indoor level?

In sunlight, I agree that the screen washes out too much for comfortable reading. But if I'm outdoors in the sun, I'm not likely to be toting an iPad.
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:30 PM   #20
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The iPad is a lovely reader indoors, but it's basically unuseable outdoors in any level of daylight.
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I have to disagree somewhat with that comment.
While I rarely use mine outdoors, I find it to be excellent in any kind of shaded location. Maybe your brightness is turned down to indoor level?

In sunlight, I agree that the screen washes out too much for comfortable reading. But if I'm outdoors in the sun, I'm not likely to be toting an iPad.
Maybe a poor choice of words on my part. Probably should have said the iPad is unreadable in sunlight when compared to a B&W e-Ink Kindle or Nook. You can read a B&W Kindle in the sun, you can't read an iPad in the sun no matter what the brightness setting (at least I can't). The difference is night and day (pun intended).
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