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Old 12-08-2009, 01:07 PM   #16
SpiderMatt
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Originally Posted by jxh11215 View Post
A nook review from a long-time Kindler
--------------------
Well I went to my local B&N today to get an up-close and personal with the new nook. They had two demo models and I was also lucky enough to get about 30 minutes with the demo guy and the nooks. I immediately told him that I wanted to compare it side-by-side with my Kindle 2 and he had no problem with that. I am sure that many will think that because I am a ‘Kindler’, that I’m being too harsh and critical, but I can only compare the experience when using the nook to my current Kindle experience and I hope that some of my criticism of the device can and will be addressed by software updates. I’d like to see the nook as real competition for the Kindle – so far, its announcement alone seems to have forced Amazon to address some of the needed improvements in the Kindle–that’s a good thing.
I’ll try to address only things that make up any major differences in using the devices. All things being equal, there is access to most of the same books with Amazon edging out ahead on pricing, but with nook offering some library books, nooks lending feature comparable to the Kindle text-to-speech feature as well as Amazon’s wireless but pay-per-item email feature vs. nook’s in-store sample readability and wifi offerings. Users’ mileage and options will vary on the usefulness of any of those features.
I would have had the nook as the real winner in the competition because of the LCD screen but, well you can read on to see why not…
My first negative was that one of the in-store display units required two resets and we still couldn’t get it to work, and had to move to the second. That doesn’t seem to bode well for users getting shipped right now, most reviewers admit that a software update is needed and I have heard other reports of demo units not working as well. Hopefully, these bad units were from initial stock known to have a few issues so were sent to stores rather than customers.

(Update: I forgot to mention two things on the nook that are a big plus. Their book navigation notes both a book ‘location’ and a PAGE NUMBER! This is uber-awesome for book clubs, students and workplace use. Even though I got a few silent blinks when I asked whether the page numbers were for the hard or paper-back versions, any reference to actual page numbers is nice. The second thing is that B&N sprang for an upgraded .PDF model than the Kindle. Per the B&N employee, the .PDF is text searchable. I’d like confirmation of that.)

In-book
The screen contrast seems a bit better than on the Kindle 2. The gray background doesn’t seem as gray so that makes the text seem clearer. There are also options to change the font that are not available on the Kindle without a hack and users can add their own screensavers which again are not available on the Kindle.
IMO, B&N did themselves a bit of disservice when they designed the navigation in terms of an eReader. You have to go through too many touches of the screen to get to a book, navigate thru books, get definitions and other things. Keep in mind that I am coming from a Kindle interface where I can open any one of the 10 books on my home page with one click, use my thumb to highlight as well as get any definitions. I imagine that traversing through the menus and options may not be as distracting when shopping as a user expects more interaction in that scenario. But up front, there are too many screens with too many options just to open one of the books in your list.
Opening and going through a book side by side with the Kindle, the screen refresh of the nook is markedly slower in the page refresh–markedly. I did not see any of the LCD lag mentioned in other reviews, but the eInk refresh definitely needs some work. Every time a book is opened, it looks like the nook updates the ‘flow’, and turning a page was also slow. I estimate about twice as long on the page refresh and 3 to 4 times as long to open a book and sync the main display to the LCD .
The dictionary and notes and highlight features of the nook also require interaction with the touch screen. To illustrate the different, in the same time it took the B&N guy to open a book and go to the 1st page, I had a book open, had gone to the next page and gotten a definition. I used one hand, he had to use two.

In short, as far as navigation and menus, the nook really needs the assistance of a usability expert to trim down the menu selections and options to something WAY more workable.

Shopping
I liked the shopping experience of the nook better than the Kindle store experience as pricing showed up in the book list and the screens shown seemed really clean as far a the options for browsing. Being able to browse books on a device doesn’t sound like much, but it added to something that I was missing with my Kindle–that in-store feel. I really like a good bookstore.
Also having the price right up front within the list was a nice feature. I got an in-store advertisement in a box on the screen right in the middle of browsing books that I would find distracting if were to repeat, but maybe they pick stuff based upon what you’re browsing. I don’t know as that box only showed up once. They need to add a feature that shows you customized recommendations though. I was told that the ‘Recommended’ book list would not be customized to either my browsing or past purchase history. I find that hard to believe, but since the device was not registered to me, I could not verify that.
I almost had a cow when one of the books available on the nook was Stephen King’s Under the Dome, but I was later told that it was a sample. It was a big sample, though as I saw a Chapter 8 on the list. Most Kindle samples are only the 1st two chapters. I didn’t think to ask if that was because I was inside the store, but for nookites, I hope not. A big sample would be great because I have purchased Kindle books based upon the 1st two chapters only to regret it because it was all downhill from there.

Overall
I found the nook to be noticeably heavier in my hand. Since I didn’t have hours of reading time, I’m not sure if that would be any factor to the reading experience, but we’ll see how that shakes out with daily use.
I really did not get any value from the addition of the LCD screen. There were just too many menus for what is in essence a single purposed device. The nook is for reading books. Period, end of sentence and for me, the experience was not enhanced in any way by the LCD it and in fact, was a distraction at best. Perhaps if B&N opens that area up to development, it may really turn into something, but for now it gets a shrug.

I was really surprised that there is no content management. The demo unit only had 10 books on it, but in contrast, I have 108 items on my Kindle. One of my first questions was how to navigate thru the nook if I had a similar number of items and was told to search, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. If I was searching, I would probably be looking for more of what I call a ‘browse’ search, not a I’m looking for a single specific item search. I would probably be looking for a choice of various genres, authors or perhaps a series. B&N missed what to me is a big Kindle complaint by not jumping on the ability to organize your books with more options than the Kindle offers.
I don’t think this is the ‘Kindle-killer’ that B&N was looking for, but even though I will remain a dedicated Kindler for now, the nook is definitely a viable option.
I pretty much agree with everything said here. I really expected the LCD screen to be more useful and less complex. They need to simplify it and find better uses for it. If I want to look up a word, why use the LCD screen to navigate the eink screen? There should be a way to look up a word right on the LCD display. It's faster and you don't need to leave the book. Also, I don't know if the display nook had a dictionary on it or not, but the one word I looked up (orthopedist) didn't come up with a definition.

I can verify PDF searching, though. In one of the menus there were a couple PDF files. I think they were user guides or something. I was able to do the same sort of linear searching I mentioned above through the PDF document. I think the nook is going to frustrate more customers than the Kindle. As a techie, I'm usually willing to sacrifice some simplicity for extra desired features, but I don't see the extra features of the nook as all the useful yet.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:10 PM   #17
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Hey jxh11215, can you remember some of the books on the nook demo. If possible I'd like to download samples of the same books for comparison in the store.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:10 PM   #18
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I totally missed the searchable PDFs in the 2.3 update. And I call myself a Kindle guru. Thanks for that tip---off to investigate.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SpiderMatt View Post
I pretty much agree with everything said here. I really expected the LCD screen to be more useful and less complex. They need to simplify it and find better uses for it. If I want to look up a word, why use the LCD screen to navigate the eink screen? There should be a way to look up a word right on the LCD display. It's faster and you don't need to leave the book. Also, I don't know if the display nook had a dictionary on it or not, but the one word I looked up (orthopedist) didn't come up with a definition.

I can verify PDF searching, though. In one of the menus there were a couple PDF files. I think they were user guides or something. I was able to do the same sort of linear searching I mentioned above through the PDF document. I think the nook is going to frustrate more customers than the Kindle. As a techie, I'm usually willing to sacrifice some simplicity for extra desired features, but I don't see the extra features of the nook as all the useful yet.
I think part of the problem with the bottom LCD display is that it's rather small. If you use it to display information to the user down there while also relying on it for user input you're limiting the available space. That said, there are lots of situations where the user would benefit much more from the faster refresh you get with an LCD over more screen real estate. Your dictionary example is one. You only need one small line for you to see what you're typing real time. You don't loose too much in the way of keyboard size but you get a much faster response.

I'm also really hoping they simplify the navigation. I too had issues with it being overly complicated.
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Old 12-08-2009, 01:15 PM   #20
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No one claims use tax. When I lived in Massachusetts, my family would often go up to New Hampshire to shop. There would be no incentive to do so if we had to claim a use tax. It would also be hard to prove in the case of trying to pin someone for tax evasion. There's no law requiring a person to keep receipts. As I said, it's a ridiculous law and not enforceable.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:16 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by jxh11215 View Post
A nook review from a long-time Kindler
--------------------
Well I went to my local B&N today to get an up-close and personal with the new nook.
Karma to you for a serious, even-handed and thorough review, thanks!
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:51 PM   #22
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Use Tax primarily relates to business/corporations.

The average consumer does have to claim tax not paid, on an internet purchase, on their individual tax return.
It all depends on which state you live in.

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Old 12-08-2009, 04:02 PM   #23
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I just got back from the Barnes & Noble in Seal Beach, CA (hello to the nice ladies there who now have MobileRead's address and may check us out).

Quick impressions:

- Though the measurements make it close to the Kindle 2 in size, it really looks and feels smaller to me. Slimmer widthwise and shorter. The thickness had a good hand feel to me (I still like the thickness of K1). I also really liked the look of it.

- It felt a bit heavier (because it is) and a little top heavy but I attribute that to the tether attached near the top of the back to keep it from being stolen.

- I didn't know how to turn it on, I kept pressing the little "n" and when it didn't work I had to ask for help (should have read the manual).

- They have the goofy screensaver authors as well.

- The biggest thing that surprised me was that I caught on to navigating with the LCD faster than I thought. Maybe it's because I've seen enough video and read about it but I did better than expected. However, it did take a few pokes for me to realize that I had press the little circle on the far right of the LCD screen to actually open the book. I kept pressing the forward arrow button because there is a little forward arrow next to the title of the book when you select it. After I figured that out, it was pretty smooth sailing.

- Page turns are indeed slower than my K2.

- Smaller margins on the book I opened. BTW, it seems not all stores have the same sample books. Mine had 2 copies of "Pride and Prejudice", the nook User Guide and a Nook Tour booklet of about 10 pages.

- Changing fonts and font sizes was easy. The font size change was slower than on K2 (which is almost instant).

- You can contacts to your nook. I assume this is for the lending feature.

- Cover flow did not work. It didn't work when browsing the store and it didn't work when browsing the titles already on the nook. I was told that the issue had to do with the AT&T Wi-Fi. Since I've read this before, it would seem that there really is an issue with AT&T.

- I did not find browsing the nook store to be a better experience. I love that the nook had pricing right there but the Kindle store (via the Kindle) gives me a gray-scale thumbnail of the books right next to the title. I do the majority of my ebook shopping on computer anyway and am not as nostalgic about browsing experience.

- I found the search function to be weird (maybe it's just me). While browsing the store I searched for the word "day" and was presented with a list of books with "day in the title" That's good. When I search for the works "day" while in the library of the books on the nook, I got one hit but it was just the title of the book (which did not have day in it), not the location. I didn't even get a hit off the dictionary. I'm not sure how you get to the word or phrase you searched for.

- The didn't have any periodicals loaded so I could see how they looked, especially image wise.

On the whole I liked it. After I read more reviews, I may go back and play with it more.

I was upfront with the ladies that I was Kindle user who just wanted to do a comparison. I told them about the eBay sales, which they thought was hilarious. I also told them that the nook was not different enough from my Kindle to make me want to but it but that I'd be back for the Plastic Logic Que.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:12 PM   #24
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Great review, jxh11215, thanks for sharing it with us.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:24 PM   #25
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I think I'm going to have to make a trip to the local B&N to check this out.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:29 PM   #26
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Thanks, Daffy, that was a great review.

Looks like I'll have to hie myself down to BN, just to see the little sucker.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:43 PM   #27
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I received the nook today and have two problems. First it is slow. Takes about 2 seconds to refresh the page compared to about 1 second on my Kindle and Sony. Second cover flow, sorting, searching does not work with side loaded content. If you want to get to a book you will have to page through all your books. I can not see any rhyme or reason to how the books are loaded. I converted all of my LRF files using Calibre to PDB formats and the books look great. Although some of them do not show page numbers or the location bar. I am still investigating why this is happening. I loaded Zelda's "Three Men in a Boat" and that looked great but seemed even slower then the PDB books. Full Justification and did not have the little numbers on the side.
I like the interface and the display does look great but with the problems listed above I will probably return the nook or sell it.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:17 PM   #28
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I like the interface and the display does look great but with the problems listed above I will probably return the nook or sell it.
Oh good grief, don't return it!!! Go to ebay and check out what they're getting for one!!
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:30 PM   #29
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Oh good grief, don't return it!!! Go to ebay and check out what they're getting for one!!
I really do not do eBay or paypal and am not really interested making any kind of profit on the nook. I will probably see what happens with any firmware upgrade within the next week or so and if nothing happens within my 14 day period I will probably just return it to the nearest Barnes and Noble near me and eat the 10% restocking fee.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:36 PM   #30
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OP seems quite right about the prices. I bought several books over the last month from Amazon instead of B&N because of the price: now they are equal. Given that, I would have bought from B&N.

Looks like they are still missing a lot of books though. No Mistborn 2 or 3 = sadface.
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