CNN Money today ranked the Nook from Barnes & Noble tops in a match up against Amazon's Kindle and Sony's eReader. Having tested a few of these ourselves, the iBraryGuy team chose the Nook for home use. After a month and a half of use, we are ready to report on our own experiences with B&N's flagship eReader. We agree with CNN, for the money, the Nook is hard to beat!
Usability: Because the Nook is essentially "all screen", it may be a little intimidating at first . . . albeit, very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. However, learning to use it takes little time. There is something to be said for the sleek interface that is devoid of excess plastic and awkward buttons. The touch pad is easy to use, is fairly responsive to even a light touch, and adds a nice splash of color to the otherwise monochrome e-ink screen. The unit itself is light to carry and comfortable for either right-handed of left-handed use (or both!).
Connectivity: We have been making the most of both the 3G and wifi capabilities of our nook. From downloading novels on the fly to having our daily newspaper delivered each morning, we have had VERY little connectivity issues. Books download fairly quickly. Having B&N's extensive catalog at your fingertips is a sweet feature to say the least. Added to that is the fact the Nook supports EPUB format and the tons of free books that utilize it. Taking your Nook into a B&N store to see the special in-store-only promos is also fun.
Functionality: We enjoy reading on our Nook. The e-ink is easy on the eyes and the graphics are not too bad. For more detailed graphic abilities, we'd go to a computer anyway. We are not too keen on the finger-swipe method for advancing pages as it still seems a bit clunky to us. Besides, the page buttons are convenient and easy to use. Why smudge up the screen flipping pages? Highlighting and bookmarking definitely need to improve. Thus far, this has been a short-coming for all the eReaders on the market. B&N has already improved these features since we got our Nook . . . but they have a ways to go before they can replicate what you can do with actual books! The dictionary function also seemed a bit limited. However, we have not had much need for it.
Support: Barnes & Noble is still playing catch-up when it comes to filling orders. This has been their main focus. We are thus not shy to say that customer service and communication could use some improvement. Still, in B&N's defense, they are ramping up their game. We got our Nook right before Christmas. Since then, there have already been two software updates that have improved the Nook's functionality. This is what we like to see. Solid updates and constant innovation. B&N needs to bring the same customer service for which its stores and online are known to its eReader experience. We are confident they will. We must also not forgot to mention that loads of cool Nook accessories are already making their way to the market.
All in all, our Nook is definitely one of our favorite purchases of 2009. We have been delighted with it and have no plans to put it up for auction when the new Apple iPad drops this year. Not that we don't want an iPad . . . but rather because we know a good thing when we've got it. There is a lot that is good about Barnes & Noble's Nook.