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I Finally Saw the Nooklit (It’s Now In Stores)

B&N launched their new Nook a week and a half ago, and as I am sure you know I wasn’t there to see it. Luckily for me the demo units have started arriving in stores.

Update: I got my hands on one.

My not-so-local Barnes & Noble store got their demo unit in today and I made a special trip up to Manassas this evening in order to see it. I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but I did spend about 10 minutes looking at it from various angles including inside a darkened cabinet.

This is not an ereader that I would want to use buy, but I can see the value. I’m fine with tablets, and even if I weren’t I have a couple different lamps sitting around my bed (that’s about the only place I read in the dark.)

Now, the Nook Glow has a front light, not the back light you’d expect on an LCD screen. That means the light is emitted from a layer that lies on top of the E-ink screen and not the screen itself. With past front light technologies this has led to splotchy lighting, fuzzy screens, and other issues. That’s just what you had to put up with.

But that’s not the case with the Nook Glow. The light layer was remarkably thin and I had trouble seeing it when it was not on. I’ve heard B&N insiders describe it as the equivalent of a glare protector and I do think it is that thin.

At its brightest I think the Nook Glow would be easy to read on, and I can see how this might be a useful option for irregular lighting conditions.

Also, the unit I saw was not nearly as bright as B&N’s commercial, and that’s a good thing. In the commercial B&N faked up a unit that looked like it gave off as much light as an LCD screen. You know, bright enough that you could use it as a flashlight. That is actually far more light than you need to read, which is why I usually read with my tablet’s back light turned most of the way down.

The light was relatively evenly spread across the screen. From what I could tell it was emitted from 6 or 7 sources on the upper edge. Counting the sources was difficult at anything but an extreme reading angle (good), so I don’t think you’ll notice them while you read.

One detail that I found interesting was that the light was softer than on my Kyobo Mirasol eReader. That ereader also has a front light bit it uses a completely different tech for the screen and the light. Its light was evenly emitted from all edges of the screen, so you’d think it would be better. No. The layer used for the screen is much more noticeable as sitting on top of the screen. In short, B&N’s tech was better.

P.S. Before you take my opinion as gospel please remember that the true opinion of this device will come from users those first few evenings when they try to read in the dark. I don’t think they’ll have an issue, but I’m looking forward to finding out what they say. There’s a big difference between real use and using a device in a show room.

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Logan Kennelly April 23, 2012 um 8:05 pm

Thank you so much, Nate! (For some reason, I trust the eReader guys more than the gadget guys.)

I found the upfront disclaimer amusing, though. The way it is phrased, "this is definitely not an ereader that I would want to buy", sounds so negative about the product, but the rest of the review makes it clear that the product is actually really-well made. I kept waiting for the "but…".

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2012 um 8:51 pm

I edited the post for tone. That sentence is much softer after deleting the word "definitely".

Mike Cane April 23, 2012 um 8:38 pm

You couldn’t take pictures? Haw! Like to see them try that with me. Maybe Wednesday I will go try to find one. And I will bring back pictures.

Does the screen protector ruin the crispness of the eInk display when the light is off?

Andrys April 23, 2012 um 10:58 pm

Nate, thanks for this early in-person report. I read that they use 8 light sources under that higher layer.

Mike, my Barnes and Noble here, about 10 blocks away, also has not "allowed" me to take a non-flash photo of any of their Nook Touch screens. I’ll try eventually with another rep or when a rep is not in attendance (this happens). I don’t see the harm and they seem overly defensive with that policy. I’m a member of B&N and had my NookColor with me but they were still adamant about no pictures, not even of the BOOTH.

Mike Cane April 24, 2012 um 7:39 am

I will NOT be stopped.

Mike Lee April 24, 2012 um 2:08 am

I was thinking about stopping in a store to have a look, but I just got a shipping notice from BN for my Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. This is a week earlier than the estimate of 5/1/2012. The package will ship from Monroe, NJ to the Washington D.C. area via Argix Direct-USPS. So hopefully I’ll be taking delivery by this Thursday or Friday.

B&N Nooklit Now Shipping – The Digital Reader April 24, 2012 um 7:34 am

[…] got one.My order is expected to ship out today. That would tend to make last night’s visit to see one in a B&N store redundant, but I thought it was worth it. I might not have ordered one without that visit. /**/ […]

DavidW April 24, 2012 um 9:03 am

That "This is not an ereader that I would want to use" really threw me for a loop. The problem is that is a hook sentence, but you didn’t want to be. Any readers naturally expect the rest of the article to outline problems with the device. Something like "despite having no interest in a reader with a built-in light, I must admit that the performance is excellent" would have been a much better hook since that is the gist of the article. I had to reread the whole thing just to see if I missed the parts where you say that you hate nooks!

Anyway I’m glad to hear that the screen is uniform and not too bright. I continue to look forward to this device. In a well lit room eink readers look fantastic, but they have much less contrast and readability as compared to paper books in more dimly lit surroundings. I would prefer a big bump on native contrast, but this bandaid will do the trick.

My Nooklit Has Arrived – The Digital Reader April 26, 2012 um 6:02 pm

[…] started shipping on Tuesday, and my unit got here today. I’d only seen it for a few minutes in a store on Monday, but what little time I spent with it intrigued me. I ordered one Tuesday because I wanted to take […]

Gabe September 10, 2012 um 7:43 am

It’s called the Nook GlowLight! not the NookLit

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