The Tablet and Me: The Nook Tablet After a Couple of Weeks

A couple of weeks ago, my wife bought me a Nook Tablet. I related that experience, and my initial impressions, in The Tablet and Me: The Nook Tablet. Now that I have used the Tablet for a couple of weeks, I thought I would update my experience. (Note that I have not used or seen a Kindle Fire or Kobo Vox. Consequently, I cannot compare the Nook Tablet to either of those devices. My comments are not intended to imply that either the Fire or Vox cannot provide the same or similar experience. This is simply about my experience with the Nook Tablet.)

My primary ereading device has been my Sony 950, a 1.5-year-old eInk device that is no longer available except on the used market. My wife uses my Sony 505, which is now 4.5 years old, my original eInk device. Unlike the Sonys, the Tablet is an LCD screen, which means that it will be troublesome to read in sunlight and one does get some glare on the screen. There is no question in my mind that for straight reading of fiction, the eInk screen is more versatile at the moment.

But I have discovered something else — actually, several somethings else. First, contrary to my original thought that I would not like to read on a LCD screen after spending all day reading on LCD monitors, I actually do like reading on the Tablet. In many ways, I find it more enjoyable than reading on my Sony. This is possible because of the ease with which I can modify the screen brightness. Although I cannot literally mimic the eInk screen, I can make the contrast such that it is very comfortable to read for long periods.

Second, the Tablet weighs significantly more than the 950, although both are of the same 7-inch screen size. Add a cover, which I did, to the Tablet and the weight really climbs, or at least seems to when compared to the Sony 950. At first I thought I would find the weight annoying, but with use, I have found that I no longer notice it — unless I pick up my 950 between sessions with the Tablet.

Third, although both the 950 and the Tablet use touchscreen technology, the Tablet’s screen, when the device is off, really shows fingerprints (you don’t notice them when using the device). I find that I regularly am cleaning the Tablet’s screen. In contrast, the 950 doesn’t show the fingerprints and I clean the screen occasionally just because I know it needs it, not because I can see that it is needed. But the Tablet’s touchscreen technology is great. A very light, almost nonexistent tap on the screen changes the page; with the Sony, a swipe is needed.

Fourth is the excellent reading experience. I am slowly coming to prefer to read ebooks on the Tablet. Everything works to make my reading experience better. I can easily enlarge the font size, something I need to do as my eyes get older, and although I can also do the same on the 950, the Tablet gives me more choices.

The Tablet also gives me two other reading enhancements: the ability to select how the book should appear (e.g., narrow, wide, or very wide margins; and single, 1.5, and double line spacing; and whether the publisher’s default settings should be used or not) and the choice of typeface to display the material (e.g., Century School Book, Dutch, Georgia, Gill Sans). (There is also a “theme” option that lets me choose the background color.)

Overall, the control of the reading experience is much greater on the Tablet than on the 950 and the more I use the features of the Tablet, the more I am inclined for it to be my primary reading device.

Being an Android tablet, the Tablet also offers the kinds of features that would be found on more advanced tablets. I decided to try the apps feature. It comes with the Netflix app, so I entered my account information. I watched about 30 seconds of a movie just to try it. It works well and I can see possibly using it when I go on vacation. I bought a weather app (HD Weather, 99¢) so that I can get the local 5-day weather forecast.

That was pretty much it with the apps until about a week ago I decided to explore what apps are available. I found four that I grabbed immediately. The first is called The American Civil War Gazette (free). It provides daily newspaper articles from Northern and Southern newspapers regarding what was happening on the same date during the Civil War. It is a chance to relive the Civil War through the eyes of the newspapers of the time, day by day. A great app for anyone interested in the Civil War or just interested in trying to live history as if experiencing it personally.

The second app was Buddy Books (free). The app looks for ebooks available from B&N by category and/or price. I have played with it and it could be a better app, but it will certainly help me find ebooks when I’m ready to shop for them (which won’t be for a while; I have 200 ebooks in my Nook library already and hundreds more that I bought from Smashwords and Sony.)

The third app was the Smithsonian Channel (free). I am a long-time subscriber to Smithsonian magazine; I’ve been a subscriber since the 1980s and my current subscription runs through 2022. So I thought this would appeal to me. The app brings the Smithsonian Channel TV programs to the Tablet for free viewing at a time of my choosing. The problem is that I never watch TV and although I have the app, I still find I am disinclined to watch the TV programs. But you never know, and for free, I didn’t think I could go wrong.

The fourth app, is Audubon Birds (purchased for 99¢ on special sale; regularly $14.99). I bought this app for my wife who is a birder. It is the electronic version of the Audubon field guide and is absolutely wonderful. This app will get a lot of use. You can zoom in on the bird photos for more details; you can play their songs. It is packed with information that is easy to find and use.

As I wrote in the initial article on the Tablet, the Tablet was bought as a way for me to electronically read my daily New York Times. At first I thought that would likely be the limit of my use of the Tablet except when traveling. Even though I have had the Tablet for only a couple of weeks, I am finding that it is rapidly becoming my preferred ereading device, which is what I do 99% of the time I use the device. The Tablet has flaws, such as the need to clean the screen regularly, the glare/washout when used in the sun, and the inability to obtain Android apps from places other than B&N and install them, but I find these to ultimately be minor inconveniences the more I use the Tablet — especially when you consider the price I paid: $149 (for the 16GB Tablet) plus a 1-year subscription to the electronic edition of the New York Times.

If you are going to buy only one utilitarian device, I do not think you can go wrong buying the Nook Tablet.


  1. vaughnmr2 May, 2012

    Although you focused on the Nook Tablet, I think what you are finding can apply to almost all of the current tablets. The downsides are poor battery life and screen brightness in sunlight. I’m using mine (HTC View) also for architecture field work, and absolutely love it, but working outside is a challenge. Yes, I love my Kindle, but I suspect these will eventually become a niche product.

  2. Mikehill332 May, 2012

    I am a former Nook Color (1st gen) owner, and pretty much agree with your summary of the reading experience.

    My lone reason for leaving was what I felt was a lack of apps, and overall development for the Nook.

    Sold it, bought a Kindle Fire, could not be happier. One thing I will say, is the Nook has too many options for stuff which is useless (wallpaper, etc..), whereas the Kindle just works. Flawlessly.

    Both solid devices, i think Amazon has the better infrastructure for the long run.

  3. Robert Nagle2 May, 2012

    Funny, I just received my tablet yesterday and have been playing with it. I generally like it, though I remember what Nate said a few months back about preferring just to buy an android device than have to go through hoops to bypass the app store.

    Here are my impressions. Agree that the Audubon app is great (though it takes up a lot of room).

    I generally like the Pulse app feed reader and the fact you can listen to music and read at the same time.

    I don’t like how when you are searching the device, it mixes apps with ebooks…

    I am disappointed about how the covers of sideloaded ebooks don’t render particularly well. Also, I am disappointed

  4. Robert Nagle2 May, 2012

    Tip: to search through free ebooks from BN, type “0.00” and then all the free books will show up. If you type “0.00 YA fiction” all the free YA fiction will show up.

  5. Ted Ellis2 May, 2012

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the availability of a Nook2Android card (on Amazon, cough cough) . An 8 GB sd card easily inserted in the nook color and allows the user to dual boot the device, clear instructions included, into an Android Tablet, running Gingerbread and numerous other apps without voiding the warranty. My wife loves hers and I may get one of my own as I like the size. It IS an easy conversion. Try it!!!

  6. Mike Cane2 May, 2012

    >>>First, contrary to my original thought that I would not like to read on a LCD screen after spending all day reading on LCD monitors, I actually do like reading on the Tablet. In many ways, I find it more enjoyable than reading on my Sony. This is possible because of the ease with which I can modify the screen brightness. Although I cannot literally mimic the eInk screen, I can make the contrast such that it is very comfortable to read for long periods.

    Flash! Adin discovers what people who passed by eInk and bought the NookColor two years ago already know.

    Yeah, I had to snark this because of *all* the people who *still* claim, “No one will read on an LCD screen.” As if the people buying tablets to read don’t know what *they* want.

  7. Tyler3 May, 2012

    I have both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire. The Nook Tablet’s native reading software is much nicer than the Kindle’s. You have more control over fonts and sizes, better background options, and also get page numbers which I find annoying with the Fire that you can’t. Even when I sideloaded the Nook app to my Kindle Fire, I find the Nook app better.

    You have much more free apps with the Fire and the speaker is much louder and clearer. So I use the Fire as a tablet more and the Nook Tablet has become my reader of choice when I am home.

  8. Andrys3 May, 2012

    Rick especially,
    since you’re recommending the Nook Tablet after trying one tablet.

    I have only the NookColor when it comes to Nooks. The KindleFire works very smoothly for me.

    What I’d like to know is: does the Nook Tablet actually let you zoom photos in books now?

    I couldn’t do that with my NookColor and it drove me bananas. Since 2008, the Kindle of any type could zoom images to full screen (even e-Ink ones could, even Kindle 1).

    The Kindle Fire zooms them to beyond the borders and zooms in more also. If the resolution is high, this is very important for maps, tables/figures, and when illustrations are important.

    NookColor could not do this. Does NookTablet?

    External sync’g between devices is like butter with Kindle. I read only that it is very frustrating with Nooks and that people have to manually re-set things each time.

    The Kindle Tablet’s web browser now has Reader View — it takes the body of an article on a webpage and extracts just that (no ads, no side columns, no junk) and presents it alone, in larger, very readable fonts (as with Readability) and also has activated hyperlinks.

    I used to use Dolphin web browser rather than Amazon’s ‘Silk’ browser but this Reader-View has me using the KFire’s web browser now. The feature is excellent.

    You can send Word docs, text documents, and webpages to the Kindle and these are also kept for you free at Amazon if you want, and if so they’re SYNC’d between your devices.

    Amazon gives 5 gigs worth of free space for personal documents (this includes non-Amazon books that are not rights-protected) and an additional free 5 gigs worth for ANY kind of non-Amazon data file that is not rights-protected.
    Not possible with Nook Tablet.

    Amazon allows you to download or sideload Android apps that are from “unknown sources” so I am able to have just about everything I want on my Kindle Fire. No rooting needed.

    The Nook Tablet does not allow this very important feature. It is much more closed than the Amazon tablet. They closed up two loopholes with allowing people to have non-Nook apps on the devices.

    We can’t see our bought-Nook files on Nook tablet devices anymore once they repartitioned them last year. They’re hidden with the system files.

    Apparently they were afraid we’d copy them to others because their DRM is based on credit cardnumbers, and some have nothing against passing the numbers to friends when the card is no longer active.

    You can get refunds on Kindle books within 7 days if there is a problem like poor layout or table of contents not being linked. B&N is very, very rigid about e-book refunds. This is also important to many e-reader owners.

  9. Andrys3 May, 2012

    Oops, “Rich” — sorry about the ‘Rick”…

  10. Andrys3 May, 2012

    You might also be interested in iBird Explorer Pro2 or iBird Explorer Lite
    for Android tablets.

    It’s from Mitch Waite Group’s Interactive Field Guide to Birds of North America and was originally just for Apple devices. It won some award as best app of the year either last year or the last one. Audio and photo files + the usual. Searchable by all kinds of attributes of a bird.


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