It's been just over a week since Barnes & Noble released their latest (and probably final) ereader, the Nook Glowlight Plus. As I sit here, getting ready to box it up and take it back, I thought I would bang on the keyboard for a few minutes and express my opinion.
- In spite of everything, I like this ereader.
- If it belonged to anyone other than B&N, a company which we don't know will be in ebooks this time next year, I would keep it.
- If managing my Nook library on the device weren't such a pain in the ass, I would keep it.
I know that the above sounds like damning with faint praise. but honest to goodness I seriously considered keeping my Glowlight Plus.
With a gold colored metal rear shell and a cream-colored bezel, the Glowlight Plus doesn't look like your average ereader (which is usually available in your choice of black, black, or black).
It runs Android 4.4 on a 1GHz Freescale i.MX6 CPU with 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage (3.1GB available to the user), and Wifi. The 6" screen sports a resolution of 1448 x 1072 with frontlight and touchscreen.Weighing in at 195 grams, the Glowlight Plus is certified to meet the IP67 standard for water and dust proofing.
The Plus has the same screen resolution as the new Kindle Paperwhite, the Kobo Glo HD, and the Kindle Voyage, so you would think that (after allowing for software differences) the Plus would have about the same reading experience as the other ereaders.
But it doesn't, and we can attribute the difference to the Plus's unique design. Where the Kindle and other ereaders have a black shell which is intended to emphasize the white on the E-ink screen, the Plus has a cream-colored bezel which was chosen for the subtle effect it has on the E-ink screen.
The cream-colored bezel, when combined with a frontlight set to 50%, give me the feeling that I'm looking at the yellowed page of an old book. This might not appeal to you, but I love it. It makes up for the gold-colored shell, which I don't like (I find bare metal unappealing) and it's a trick I would like to see copied on other ereaders.
When it comes to ebooks, I am not your average reader. I have been buying ebooks for long enough that I have far more ebooks that have been set free of any platform than I do in any single platform.
In fact, Barnes & Noble is the one and only ebook platform where I have a huge native library thanks to my Fictionwise purchases having been migrated to the Nook platform. I have around 450 ebooks in the Nook system, and that's a problem for B&N because it's made me aware of just how horrible the library management is on the Nook Glowlight Plus.
It's not just that the software lacks basic and obvious features like only showing the ebooks on the device, but also that simple acts like downloading an ebook doesn't move said ebook to the front of the library. As a result, the ten or fifteen ebooks I want to read are lost in a cloud of ebooks that I have no interest in.
And that's a shame because I do want to read on the Glowlight Plus. The ebooks don't display consistently, but they are close enough that I am fine with it - if only they were easier to find and load.
There are three options for margins and three options for line spacing, but no option for justification (the Nook iOS app has this). But on the plus side, the Plus does have typography about on par with the new "improved" typography that Amazon is only now adding to the Kindle platform. And in fact, it's had it for some time.
Speaking of loading ebooks, there have been numerous reports concerning USB issues. The Glowlight Plus doesn't like working with the USB port on Windows or OSX machines. Most people have been able to resolve their problems, but the sheer number of complaints is unusual.
Furthermore, the Plus does not work with Adobe DE, which means no support for library ebooks or ebooks bought elsewhere. B&N swears there is a fix in the works, but that doesn't do us any good.
Do you know what I wish?
I wish the Glowlight Plus was running a Kobo firmware. That would combine the screen I like with software features I like, and it would allay concerns that the Plus might be turned off tomorrow.
This is a far nicer looking mid-range ereader than the Kobo Glo HD, which even though it was supplied from the same Chinese OEM (Netronix) looked and felt cheap compared to the Paperwhite or the Glowlight Plus. Combining the better aspects of the Glo HD and the Plus device would be the best of all worlds, but alas it's just not going to happen.