Print Story Review of the Nook E-Book Reader
Toys
By wiredog (Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 10:37:51 PM EST) (all tags)
Came in today. First impressions, as I only unpacked it a couple hours ago. Pics inside. Note that while I've seen Kindles, I've never actually used one. Making this is my first e-reader experience. So don't look for a comparison between the Nook and other devices.


01_TheBox
Comes in a box that's the size and weight of the boxes hardcover books come in, making it nice and stealthy (This doesn't look like $300 worth of stuff! No sir!) when sitting in front of the door all day. Inside it is really well packed. In bubble wrap, and a sort of suspended platform internally for shock absorbtion. Inside that is a thick plastic box holding the actual Nook.

02_UnpackInstr
Yes, you actually do need the unpacking instructions.

03_Unpacked
Unpacked, with the charger, USB cable (some kind of funky micro mini USB connector) and quick start guides.

Press the power button and...
04_Starting
<Young_Frankenstein>It's Alive!</Young_Frankenstein>

05_Register
Once it starts up, you get the registration screen. To move between fields you use the up/down arrows to the right of the keyboard. The keyboard is OK, but a bit sensitive, and the virtual keys are just a bit too small for me to use easily. So it's easy to make typos until you get used to it. Especially since the keyboard responds much faster than the screen. So take your time here. One thing: As you are typing in your password the letters show up "in the clear", presumably so that you can see them as you're typing, before they get replaced by dots.

06_HomeScreen
The home screen.

08_FingerPrints
The "My Library" screen. And boy howdy, does that LCD touchscreen ever pick up fingerprints. Note the standard cellphone display in the upper right.

09_BNStore
The B&N E-Bookstore. The e-ink screen isn't really that reflective, it's just that I have a Real Flash about a foot away from the thing.

10_Text
Reading on the Nook. The screen is very sharp. Not as grey and, well, muddy, as the reviews had led me to expect. Certainly Good Enough. The flicker as you change pages is a bit odd, and it would be nice if they changed faster, but it seems readable.

11_Cover
Out of focus, because I wasn't using the flash. See that little, tiny, picture of a book cover on the LCD? There's a sort of "cover view" type of selection method where you swipe your finger along the pictures of the covers of all your books, and then select the one you want. It would work if the images were, oh, twice the height and width. As it is they're just too small to differentiate between them. Fortunately you can select via a menu where the titles are displayed in the e-ink area.

12_Connected
When plugged into the Mac it mounts like any other removable storage. You can drag 'n' drop files just like you can with any removable storage.

13_Epub1
According to B&N the Nook can read open epub format books, so I went go to Gutenberg, got a pdb, converted it (via Caliber) to epub, and tried it out.

14_Epub2
Margin size="0". That might take some getting used to...

So it does read epubs, downloads books from b&n automatically, and has a nice readable screen. Not too heavy, about the weight of a regular hardcover. Having page forward/back buttons on both sides of the screen is a good idea. It makes the Nook ambidextrous.

I can probably get used to the flicker as it turns pages. The LCD touchscreen is a good idea, especially for text input, but might need some tweaking. The cover flow view doesn't really work. Cool idea, but not workable on that screen.

Still to do, while I'm on vacation in Utah next week:
Buy the Washington Post using the Nook, and see how readable it is. Does it come with the comics? Or not? How navigable is a newspaper on a device like this? Does it auto-deliver every morning?

Buy The Atlantic and see how readable that is.

How hard is it to turn the wireless connection off and on? How non-obvious is it? How difficult is it to read this thing on an airplane? Update [2009-12-18 12:50:31 by wiredog]:

Update 1.
Something needs to be done about nomenclature. Turning it off to turn it on is not exactly intuitive... I'm talking about the cell phone radio here. You turn airplane mode "on" to turn the radio "off". Easy to find (Settings->Airplane Mode->Off|On) , but first seeing it and thinking "It's already off? But why am I connected?" Perhaps this is normal in the smart phone world, or perhaps 11:30 PM is a bit late for me to be puzzling this out, but "off" should turn things off, not on.

Issue 2: User interface.
I can copy entire directory trees to "my documents" and the device sees them. But it doesn't display them, just their contents. It flattens out the tree. And then displays in alphabetical order. So if I have 20 books titled "The$x1 ...The$x20" the show up in alphabetical order, by title, not in their enclosing folders. There needs to be a way to group by subject/genre and author, and then alpha, the way sensible libraries have done it for a century or more. Having 100+ books, many titled "The SomethingOrOther" will be problematic.

Update [2009-12-19 16:43:27 by wiredog]:
Newspapers: Read the Post on the Nook this morning. Wouldn't want to do it every day yet.

Navigation is more difficult than it should be. As I page through the paper it shows 3 or 4 articles/page. After I read an article it should go back to the page. It doesn't. Just to the next article. I have to go back to the first page, then page forward to get to the page I was at. May need to bookmark a page before I start reading an article from it? Will try that later.

No comics or editorial cartoons. Editorials, op-eds, and opinion columns aren't marked to distinguish them from stories. No special sections like Real Estate, Food, etc. Some other content missing. No Style Invitational, for example. Some pictures are there, some aren't.

The Nook has the potential to be a good newspaper reader. Needs work though. Update [2009-12-24 2:50:20 by wiredog]:
Update 3: Version 1.1.1 of the software downloaded, installed. Has good, and bad.

Sitting in Dulles, waiting for the plane to board, notice a little box in the lower right of the reader screen "Downloading." After a couple meinute a message interrupts my reading of the WaPo to tell me that the new OS has downloaded and the Nook will now reboot and install, which it does, without asking me if I want it to. This is arguably the Right Thing for the majority of non-techie users, but I would like to have finished what I was reading first... After it rebooted the lcd lit up with messages about partitions, and applying delta files and such like. Yes, this thing is Linux under the hood.

The good: The Newspaper navigation problems I mentioned above? Solved. It's now a darn good newspaper reader. Also, the lcd touchscreen is a bit more responsive. You can use it to change pages, but the buttons are faster. More good: The pages turn much faster. As fast as if I were turning them by hand in a Real Book.

The bad: Un-drm'd pdb files (from gutenberg, O'Reilly, and other places) no longer work. It asks for the authentication tokens for them which, since they are drm free, don't work. Supposedly B&N is aware of the issue and may have a fix/workaround tomorrow. If they don't I may have to convert them to epub.

The odd: The 'view my documents' menu entry, that allows access to the 'my documents' folder disappeared. Deleting the various dot files and directories that Snow Leopard scattered about it fixed that.

The first book I read all the way through on the Nook was, of course "In The Beginning Was The Command Line" by Neal Stephenson. Read it on the airplane. A couple of issues here. One, the Nook doesn't do footnotes. Two, it had issues with some italicized text. If it ended with a vertical character the character was chopped off on the right. Artifact of the way the screen is addressed I suppose. Occasionally the bottom line of text on the page would have a few pixels chopped off the bottom. Formatting issue probably.

Battery life: Don't believe that two week thing. Charged it fully last night. I only turn on the cell phone to download stuff. Only read one newspaper and one book, and it's already down to 50% charge. OTOH, that is 4 hours of reading, plus downloading the newspaper and software update.

< Quickie Update. | They said there'll be snow at Christmas >
Review of the Nook E-Book Reader | 47 comments (47 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
And now to bed... by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 10:38:23 PM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)



VS2FP by johnny (4.00 / 3) #2 Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 10:56:36 PM EST
I have not even finished reading this yet, and I am scared of and threatened by ebooks, since I'm trying to make a my living as a writer and I'm not Cory Doctorow, but I must say, that that first photo is sublime, and this story must be V2FP. "Soul of a New Machine", first edition hardcover, if I'm not mistaken, as a unit scale? Brilliant, just brilliant. My virtual hat goes off to Mr. Wiredog. 

Any of y'all have any suggestions about me & my books and how to make a living as a geekoid novelist, especially, in the ebook age, please, y'all, speak up.


She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)


i've been thinking about this a lot by clock (4.00 / 3) #6 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:24:05 AM EST
because i love books.  i love them as objects and for what's in them.  i honestly think devices like this will do for books what ipods did for CDs.  remember carting around 1,000 CDs because you never knew what you might want to listen to?  no?  hmmm... maybe that was just me.  but i doubt it.  with my ipod i can carry around a shit-ton of music.  i bet the same thing happens with the nook.  i can have more than one book in my bag which is good for me (and my back).

for you, i think it means this: $9.99 price point for a new release.  B&N/Amazon/etc will eventually get their equivalent of Tunecore which will let authors have access to their stores and BAM you're on your way.  upside: same access to readers as any other author.  downside: still have to get people to know you exist.  the real challenge for authors is that "give away and pray" doesn't fill your bank book because you're not trying to sell personal appearances (live shows) by giving away your stuff.  that model will have to change somehow.

for an indie author i see a lot of perks.  for readers i see a lot of perks.  for people who are purveyors of dead trees, maybe not so much.  i'm fascinated to see what things like this do to the book as fetish item...but that'll only take 2 or 3 years to figure out.

this whole discussion is something that i'd love to have with you, kellnerin and ana over coffee.  but you'll have to come by my place.  i make an awesome brew and if you can avoid the toys on the floor...

all of that said, my nook should ship today.  thanks for the review wiredog!


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]

You're welcome. Updates coming. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:35:35 AM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

I remember by MillMan (4.00 / 2) #16 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:09:27 PM EST
throwing away my CD cases about four years ago and instantly not missing them. Books are more personal since you're handling them - but I know I will get used to ereaders, and within a few years, will note how archaic paper documents are. What do you mean I can't just highlight this word and go straight to wikipedia or dictionary.com?

Long term (assuming paper books stick around for a long while) I see myself owning maybe 100 paper books - buying my favorite one or two books per year in paper form and putting them up in a small bookcase.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

i'll keep using books. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #40 Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:34:54 PM EST
but Jeff says by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #45 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 09:46:57 AM EST
you can put your Kindle in a ziploc bag and read in the tub!  He does it!

[ Parent ]

Soul of a New Machine by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #8 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:36:34 AM EST
Yep. A well worn, because read, first edition. That book was why I became a programmer.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

The MV8000 ("Eagle") was my first job by johnny (4.00 / 2) #22 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 05:21:53 PM EST
I began my high-tech career at Data General in April, 1980, as a pig-ignorant technical writer, just as the MV8000 was about to be launched. In fact, I remember the company-wide email that went 'round announcing "The Eagle has a new name! It's the MV8000!" and how everybody in Engineering was saying how only Marketing could think that "MV8000" was a better name than "Eagle". I was at the Eagle launch party in Boston.

Over the 4 years I was at DG I actually became pretty friendly with Tom West. Right before I left, I was working with him on a "engineering process improvement" project -- exactly what I ended up doing at Sun Microsystems 15 years later. Only difference was, by the time I was doing it at Sun, I actually had some idea of how computer engineering was actually done.    

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)
[ Parent ]

Thanks for the review. by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:29:39 AM EST
I'm surprised it's so easy to read. I look forward to your future reviews. I might want to pick one of these up.

p.s. Utah? Sure the skiing is great, but those damn mormons!


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl



Yeah I second this by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 2) #4 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 05:52:26 AM EST
About the screen. Even in a picture it looks amazing.

Tempting. I don't read enough. I'm just trying to figure out when the heck I'd find time to do it, fancy new gadget or no.

[ Parent ]

Utah. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #9 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:38:25 AM EST
Dad is 45 minutes from Brian Head. But I probably won't go skiing. One: Christmas week at the closest good resort to Las Vegas and LA, Two: Dad gave up downhill skiing when he was 78, after he broke his neck in a bad fall. Still does cross-country though.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

Oh, and... by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:41:02 AM EST
Mormons aren't that bad. The missionaries swing by a few times after you first move in, but leave you alone after you say no thanks. The neighbors are friendly, and invite you to all the social functions, but there's no real proselytizing at them. It's not liek the South where the damn Baptists won't leave you alone, or the 7th Day Adventists who have to be run off with rifles.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

all you need... by clock (4.00 / 1) #11 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:51:11 AM EST
...is a good rottie to keep them all away.  it's like +10 to attacks against zealots.


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]

Those mormons are a lot nicer by ks1178 (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:26:28 AM EST
than the ones near my brother in Arizona.

The preschool that my niece went to, all of her classmates except her were Mormon.

One of the girls had a birthday party and invited everyone in the class except her.

Try explaining to a 5 year old that you can't play with the others because their parents think your an infidel.

As for e-books, Clock is totally correct about it being nice to have multiple books on a single device. I do a lot of travel to non-english speaking countries, and it's so nice to not have to pack my carry on full of books so I have something to pass the time with.

[ Parent ]

This example is just like by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #28 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 03:23:36 AM EST
the story I tell of my baby brother growing up in Utah and being excluded.

I will never move back to Utah ONLY because of the Mormons.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]

I grew up in Utah. by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #29 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 03:34:47 AM EST
Most of the time the Mormons are only irritating, but there are times when they are worse than the Baptists or Adventists.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]

Maybe it's different for apostates by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #34 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 10:05:32 AM EST
Than it is for those of us who were heathen to begin with.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

there are missionaries in my apartment building. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #41 Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:35:42 PM EST
Certain folks are on the by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #42 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 01:16:47 AM EST
do not convert list. Mormons as a whole are bigots.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]

Thanks for the review by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 07:22:03 AM EST
I'm intrigued by e-readers, but I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet. If I were, I'd lean toward the nook, but I think I'm going to give it another year at minimum. I'd love for you to post another review in a few months after you've been using it for a while.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin


same here by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #15 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 12:03:08 PM EST
I'm thinking next generation I'm in. I like how they copied the shape of the iphone, which is a great design - whereas the kindle is an aesthetic abomination.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

They're getting closer by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #21 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 04:53:14 PM EST
I wandered in to Waterstones in Cambridge during the week and they had one of the new Sonys with the larger screen. Unfortunately it's in a fixed display so I couldn't pick it up and fiddle with it, but the page changing looked acceptable and the screen size looked almost adequate. With a penny change from 250 quid it's still far too much money though, four months book budget or enough to fill one sixth of its basic memory.


[ Parent ]

washpost on the nook by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 08:30:46 AM EST
is quite ironic considering how badly their tech toys reviewer panned the nook..



Their tech toys reviewer hasn't seen one yet. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:16:45 AM EST
He was going to get with me this Saturday to look at mine, but that may not happen due to the impending Snowpocalypse. I he's probably going to borrow it after Christmas if BN hasn't gotten him one yet.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

Nice review, thanks. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 01:58:30 PM EST
I'm still in the "interested, but not ready to jump" column. I really, REALLY want eReaders to be awesome, and the Nook appears to be about a half-step from it right this moment.

Is the flicker between page turns extremely noticeable? I tend to flip back and forth from time to time when reading technical books on page turns, and if it's going to take two to three seconds every flip, I'd be highly perturbed. Outside of that, the appeal is beginning to draw me.





More like half a second. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:20:29 PM EST
I got used to it fairly quickly, but I haven't spent more than a few minutes reading it. The test will be next week when I spend most of a day on airplanes and in airports.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

How is it for reading whilst by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #19 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:36:52 PM EST
laying on your side in bed? With dim lights? I really don't see how I'm going to get rid of real books when 95% of my reading is done while lying down in a mostly dark room...



This ^ by Herring (2.00 / 0) #23 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 05:40:08 PM EST
even better if you could read in bed with the lights off and not disturb a partner too much.

I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralize them - ANW Benn
[ Parent ]

It needs a light. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #24 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:34:47 PM EST
All the e-ink devices need an external light.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

That's strike two. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #27 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 02:17:41 AM EST
Hey, did you bother to see if you could skip registration - you know, for us paranoid fuckers?

You can't handle my complete attention.
[ Parent ]

You can by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #33 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 10:04:17 AM EST
There's a cancel button on it. But you won't be able to buy content from B&N for it.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

Directory structure is important to me too. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #20 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 02:57:49 PM EST
My second annoyance with this phone, in fact. Does the Nook's OS allow you to create a directory?

You can't handle my complete attention.


You can create it. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #25 Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 09:36:06 PM EST
But he app that displays the contents ignores it. Really annoying that everything is displayed at the same level regardless of the depth of the tree.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

Uh-oh. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #26 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 01:40:55 AM EST
My OCD is telling me that's a deal-breaker.

You can't handle my complete attention.
[ Parent ]

I suspect it would get annoying by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #32 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 10:03:20 AM EST
If I had 100 books on the thing. I also suspect that software updates might eventually fix it. We'll see.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

do you have by bobdole (2.00 / 0) #30 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 05:55:51 AM EST
directories in your book shelfs?

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]

Yes I do. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #31 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 08:05:17 AM EST

You can't handle my complete attention.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't everyone? by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #35 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 10:06:37 AM EST
Mine are organized, roughly, by genre. And by author within genre.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

same here by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #38 Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 09:36:13 PM EST
Also, looks like a Nook update is coming. Items addressed include page-turn speed and and start-up time for various things.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I have different shelves for different subjects by lm (4.00 / 1) #43 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 06:22:24 AM EST
One for philosophy, one for religion, one for economics, one for history, one for cookbooks, one for crap novels, one for literature, etc.

Some of those shelves are further subdivided. My philosophy books, for example, are categorized by chronological schools (classical, medieval European, eastern, modern, contemporary, etc.) and then sorted by author within those groups.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

Note that "my b and n library" is by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #37 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 01:38:58 PM EST
sortable by genre, author, etc. It's the "my documents" directory that isn't.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

I'm holding off buying one by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #36 Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 10:13:28 AM EST




Those things look cool by duxup (4.00 / 2) #39 Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 04:22:59 PM EST
If only I did much book learn'n.

____


Glad the update fixed some stuff by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #44 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 06:27:36 AM EST
The one I played with in the store was so slow I it was enough to stop me from buying one. The Sony e-reader was much faster.

I may wait until January when they do a "major" firmware update and try one out again. Unless I get a Kindle for Christmas which would make it a moot point.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

How's my blogging: Call me at 209.867.5309 to complain.


Footnotes? by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #46 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 12:43:03 PM EST
I would think footnotes would be the one thing these readers should be able to excel at. I wonder why they go neglected?



Hopefully it'l be fixed in a future release. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #47 Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 01:49:00 PM EST
But it sure is annoying.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]

Review of the Nook E-Book Reader | 47 comments (47 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback