The Nook is Barnes & Noble's first foray into the highly competitive electronic-book reader market. It was originally released in November of 2009 and quickly gained popularity due to its innovative interface, versatility, and compatibility with multiple file types without DRM copyright restrictions.
While it's marketed as an e-book reader, it does a bit more than just that. The Nook runs on a modified Android 1.5 operating system and, while it cannot access or run apps from the Android Market, it includes applications for playing music using the built-in speaker or 3.5 mm headphone jack, browsing the web via its built-in WiFi connection, or playing games such as chess or Sudoku. It also features 2 GB of built-in storage, which is expandable through a micro SD slot.
The 6-inch E Ink screen on the Nook provides a sharp contrast between dark and light tones that are readable even in bright sunlight. Since it does not have a backlit screen, the Nook is noticeably easier on the eyes than other portable devices; however, the drawback is that it is virtually useless in low-light situations. The books that this type of device replaces aren't particularly useful in low-light situations either, so there is a somewhat organic feel to the overall reading experience. Unlike a real book, the font style and size are fully adjustable to meet your own personal reading needs.
Rather than sporting a keyboard like Amazon's Kindle e-reader, the Nook sports a secondary touch-sensitive color screen used for controlling the device. This color navigation panel displays menu icons and navigation tools, as well as full-color book covers while browsing your library or shopping. It also functions as a touch-sensitive keyboard for typing notes or interacting with websites. While it is a cool feature, the color LCD seems to have a noticeable impact on the device's battery life.
There are a few particularly nice features that are included with the Nook and the NOOKbook Store. With the Nook's built-in LendMe technology, you can share books with a friend's Nook for up to two weeks. Users can preview samples of books while shopping in the NOOKbook Store directly from their device, or can access a number of books for free for up to an hour while physically in any Barnes & Noble location via their in-store WiFi connection.
Need to Know: Nook
1. The 6-inch E Ink screen provides a reading experience similar in size and appearance to the ink on a page of an actual book, making it very pleasing to the eyes. (The Good)
2. The Nook is fully compatible with many popular non-DRM formats, including EPUB, PDF, and PDB. (The Good)
3. Extra apps are included for playing music, browsing the web, and gaming. (The Good)
4. The lack of a backlight makes the Nook useless in low-light situations. A switchable backlight would have easily remedied this. (The Bad)