It turns out that B&N is going to officially ship the Nook Glow today, just like I reported 7 hours ago. B&N also released the early reviewers from the embargo. Needless to say, I'm not one of them, but I did gather together the reviews that I could find.
Several of the reviews covered the entire device in far more depth than necessary. Hint to reviewers: If your review includes a mention that the new device is virtually identical to the old, skip anything that is not new. It is redundant.
Aside from the GlowLight, one key differentiating point between the Nook and both the $79 Kindle and the $99 Kindle Touch is Barnes & Noble's inclusion of an expansion slot for adding additional memory. However, the Kindle Touch does offer integrated audio, which allows you to listen to MP3 music (and other audio files, including audio books) while you're reading, as well as have books read to you -- or at least those with the text-to-speech feature enabled (publishers decide whether to enable this feature or not).
Indeed, the addition of GlowLight should add some extra utility for frequent travelers, insomniacs and the nocturnally inclined. And heck, if Barnes & Noble's numbers are to be believed, perhaps it will even save a marriage or two. The loss of contrast is certainly a bit of a compromise, though it's not likely to be a dealbreaker for most users. Pricing, on the other hand, might be.
As a gadget to use daily, this is the best eReader you can buy. The choice comes down to content. The Nook is a product by Barnes & Noble, and the company's breadth of selection compares well against Amazon's selection for its Kindle. But Amazon might have already sunk its teeth into your library. If that's the case, you'll read this and say: "I'd totally buy this...if it were a Kindle!" That's too bad. The latest Nook is the new king of the eReaders.
This review is verbose and redundant.
There’s no doubting GlowLight works. What’s really impressive is that it does so without adding to the bulk of the existing NOOK Simple Touch: no clunky clip-on lights, or eye-searing backlighting. The slight loss of some crispness thanks to the diffuser layer may frustrate some, but in our experience it – like with the momentary refresh delay inherent to e-paper screens – you soon come to ignore it.
I'm passing on quoting this review because it neglects to mention details about the screen tech.
I wouldn't describe the light as uniform, though. It's really bright at the top, right next to the LEDs, then there's a dark stripe right below. It evens out considerably by the time it's illuminating any text, but it's still inconsistent enough to make certain lines of text look slighty darker or lighter than others. None of it really impedes the reading experience, but it's not as nice-looking as a cool, even glow would be.
Now, effectively illuminating an E Ink screen is no cakewalk. Tellingly, Sony released a light-up Reader in 2009, but the results were murky and its successor reverted to a non-lit display.
Barnes & Noble’s version, however, works really well. When GlowLight is turned off, the fact that it’s been added doesn’t seem to hurt the clarity of the display; it remains very readable by E Ink standards, although I found that the Kindle Touch’s text looked a bit blacker in some situations.