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Confirmed: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Get the New Nook Glow

A blogger with Gizmodo is offering a graphic lesson today i  why you need to be even more careful with the new Nook Touch with Glowlight screen than the previous model. That little dot of light in the upper part of the screen isn't an artifact of the photo; it's where the screen got scratched.

The problem with putting the light in front of the screen is that there's nothing to protect it. This might not seem such an issue because most screens are sturdy enough to survive basic damage, but in the case of the Nook Glow that's not true.

I can confirm that based on the many times I've dropped one device onto another that screen are fairly sturdy, but it looks like the light layer on new Nook Touch isn't even as sturdy as the (accident prone) E-ink screen right underneath it.

You see, the mark on the screen above isn't from dropping the Nook Glow on the floor. It's not from dropping something sharp onto the Nook Touch, or even keys. No, the weapon in this case was a regular TV remote control which was accidentally dropped from less than a foot above the screen. It left a ding in the light layer which is visible even when the light is turned off.  And when the light is on I think it ruins the reading experience.

Now, the blogger at Gizmodo is still saying that the new Nook is worth it, but I disagree.

I can accept that devices break and that you sometimes need to be exceptionally careful, but this is just too much. My devices get more banged up than that just by putting them in my bag. With all the pens, notepads, and other stuff I carry around while on the go I would be lucky not to end up with enough scratches on the screen for an abstract piece of art.

I think we may have celebrated the new Nook Touch a little too soon. That frontlight might be as nearly invisible as glass but it is also much more fragile. The photo above is a good reason not to get the device. Clearly it's only one minor accident away from being a waste of $40.

Update: A couple readers disputed the accuracy of the photo above so I did a little experimenting. I dropped my keys on my Nook Glow from a height of 4 inches. This is the result:

The screen doesn't show any sign of damage when the light is off and the the damage cannot be felt, only seen.

Gizmodo

72 Comments on Confirmed: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Get the New Nook Glow

  1. Well, that clinches it. Certainly not getting it with two young kids around…

  2. Sturmund Drang // 2 May, 2012 at 7:44 pm //

    At the very least it would make a rhino-like case nonoptional.

  3. I always have cases for my e readers. That saying, I was underwhelmed by the new Nook and returned mine after a day.

  4. Tyler,
    What didn’t you like about it though?

  5. I have a 4.5-year-old Sony 505 whose screen is perfect after daily use over that time. Same with my 1.5-year-old Sony 950. The only extra protection they receive is the from the covers that came with the device (or that I bought at the same time as I bought the device) and my not being so careless as to drop TV remotes on the screen or spilling a can of soda over the device or taking it swimming with me or dropping it on concrete from a 6-foot height.

    Why is the Nook responsible for the carelessness of the user? Why, Nate, do you want just a tougher screen? Why not go all the way and require the device to resist thermonuclear war? It seems to me that people need to take some responsibility for the care of devices they own or not complain. I doubt that it is reasonable to anticipate that users will drop their remote controls on the screen.

  6. This is just one report whose accuracy and details are unknown. It’s silly to act like this alone is enough to prove that the device is unacceptably fragile.

  7. I just duplicated the issue. I dropped by keys on the Nooklit from a height of 4 inches. Wait a second and I’ll post the pictures.

    The thing is, Rich, the screen on the Nooklit is far more fragile than any other E-ink ereader. That is newsworthy. It’s also a valid reason not to get it.

  8. One incident and you’re warning people against buying a product, implying that it’s inferior? If somebody who bought a Kindle, Fire, iPad, Nook Tablet, Kobo or whatever had a out of box failure, and I’m sure that happened, would be loudly proclaiming, buyer beware?

    I think not.

  9. Two incidents.

    And yes, the screen is more fragile.

  10. Thanks Nate for reporting on this. I just received mine yesterday. I use a cover on mine, but it looks like I’ll be holding on to my older backup Nook, and making use of the one year warranty on the new one. I wonder how amazon will deal with this issue when they introduce lighting to the kindle.

  11. Scumbag Reviewer: Hears about incident involving remote control being dropped on screen. Recreates by stabbing screen with keys.

    YOUR’RE SCEINCE IS GOOD!

  12. LOL This comment is full of WIN, especially the typo in the last sentence.

  13. Nate, I am not adventurous enough to determine whether I can deliberately damage my Nook Tablet or either of my Sonys by dropping one of my remotes on the screen. I suspect that with the right angle/height, I would cause damage. I don’t doubt that you confirmed the damage by dropping the keys, but it was a deliberate act on a bare screen. Would the damage occur if you had the device covered? Isn’t that really the issue? We all know that these screens are fragile and need to be taken care of. It’s the carelessness that should be condemned, not the screen, UNLESS the same damage can be caused to the screen when it is covered. Then, I would agree.

  14. I’ve dropped e-Ink Kindles, and in a sense the result is similar in that with no light, no damage is seen.

    The damage described in Gizmodo’s overapologetic report by Kyle Wagner is due to an impact of a remote control device dropping from 6″ hurting the lighting-functioning under the top layer.
    The display isn’t cracked or broken. When Nate dropped the keys from 4″ it also affected the lighting, not the screen display otherwise, when the lighting is off.

    I think that’s an indicator that people have to be very careful with this, as far as the new feature is concerned — the lighting.

    Otherwise, the screen display itself (if you don’t use the light) hasn’t been affected.

    So it’s not more fragile in that way than any other e-Ink reader, so far, but if the light is important to you, then the reports are definitely worth reading and doing some added protection (like not giving the reader to very young kids or someone who is careless with it).

    A cover won’t help much in this case, since we don’t leave it on when reading. I also don’t close the cover when putting the reader down for awhile — but that’s one precaution people should take, I imagine when it comes to the lights used.

  15. I don’t think a case would be relevant, Rich.

    I don’t use cases for any of my ereaders or tablets because I don’t need them. When I’m not using them I simply toss them in my bag along side my camera, cables, laptop, and more. I’ve never had a screen broken from doing that, but I would bet that the light layer on the Nooklit would be damaged.

    The light layer itself is incredibly fragile, much more so than the screen underneath. This ereader is one paw print away from getting the light layer damaged, that’s how fragile it is.

  16. Honestly, who leaves their electronics unprotected?

    I have a case that my 10″ tablet stays inside when it’s not being used — same with my Kindle 3 Keyboard (I use the stock K3 Lighted case); and my K3 case is well worth the money; it’s prevented my kindle from getting damaged in the two years or so I’ve had it.

  17. I didn’t doubt that something liked what was described happened. What I meant it was that the crucial details are unconfirmed, and pretty much unconfirmable in an anecdote like this. Was the user’s hand stationary when he dropped the remote, or was he moving, adding some additional momentum to the impact? What part of the remote hit the screen? How small and hard was that part? And so on. I’m just saying that this wasn’t a quantified test, so sweeping conclusions are inappropriate.

  18. Ah, I didn’t see the update about your key test until now. That does seem like a good confirmation.

  19. Hmmmm…. wondering what would happen in a cat landed on that NookGL screen. Or maybe just walked over the screen…

  20. Hmmmm…. wondering what would happen if a cat landed on that NookGL screen. Or maybe just walked over the screen…

  21. It would likely break the light layer.

  22. I didn’t think it was worth the $139 price tag for the screen tech that was used. I didn’t like the unevenness of the lightning. I find that the Nook Tablet screen far easier to read on in low light conditions. Mine also would not open so,e Barnes and Noble books until they were deleted and redownloaded. Never had that happen before with a Nook. Mine also froze up requiring a total shutdown and restart. That happened twice to me.

  23. Opps meant to post here. See above.

  24. This is really irresponsible reporting. Try dropping your keys onto the front of a camera and scratch the lens. Or drop onto a computer screen. I have a Nook with GlowLight, not a Nooklit, whatever that is. It’s the most amazing eReader I’ve used, and I’ve owned many Nooks and Kindles. I’m getting tired of this site with Nate constantly telling us how he predicted this and that, all written with numerous grammatical mistakes. Yes, I know, if I don’t like the site, I can go elsewhere, but Nate does a good job of covering the news, it’s that he’s not objective and clear. I know he’s unhappy that B&N never gve him a sample; I’ve seen that comment a few times. But please don’t know a great innovation without some more thoughtful analysis

  25. “Or drop onto a computer screen”

    Okay, I just dropped my keys from a height of 5 to 6 inches on the following devices:

    • Asus Transformer
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab
    • Kindle DX
    • Innosoul Android tablet
    • Kindle Touch

    Guess what? None were damaged in this experiment.

    The Nooklit has a more fragile screen than any of my other devices. If you like, I could jostle it around in my work bag to simulate the most likely cause of damage.

  26. Amazon will likely be using different tech *if* they do a front-lit Kindle.
    B&N is reportedly using in-house tech for the Nook Glow, whereas Amazon owns a company that has been developing its own lightguide tech for years.
    There is also another independent company that has their own solution, which might show up in other ereaders:
    http://the-digital-reader.com/2011/12/14/first-look-at-flexlight-video/

    Of course, now everybody will be doing their own “Hoffelder test” *before* releasing their product so the Nook glow might just be the end of *that* experiment.
    (In other words: back to the drawing board!)

  27. Most companies tend to think about real world usage of their products.
    Some more than others.
    Steve Jobs reportedly “freaked out” and had the iPhone redesigned a couple months before release to deal with a fragile screen issue.

    “Just over a month before the first iPhone was to be released in 2007, the authors report, a frustrated Steve Jobs summoned his senior team.

    Steve had been using a prototype iPhone for a few weeks, carrying it around in his pocket. When his lieutenants were assembled, he pulled the prototype out of his pocket and pointed angrily to dozens of scratches on its plastic screen.”

    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-01-22/tech/30652107_1_foxconn-iphones-apple-executives

    I don’t normally see Jobs as an executive I want any CEO to emulate but he had his moments.

  28. So since you’ve stuffed the screen.. Can you add a screen protector to it and check if that helps on the key drop test?

  29. It went back already. I wanted my local store to have one to show customers.

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