The Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, now available for $139, has one key update over prior models: With its built in LED lighting, you can read your e-Ink content in the dark. Reviews are generally favorable although at least one points out that the new Nook has a slightly differently screen surface which marginally reduces screen contrast and text clarity. The new Nook Simple Touch isn’t the first e-reader to use supplemental lighting, but now that one of the top-selling devices use it, others are likely to follow.
Here’s a summary of some reviews, since I haven’t yet got my hands on the new Nook:
The Verge: “If I were in the market for a first ebook reader, though, or upgrading from an older Nook, I’d take a long look at the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. It works really well, lasts basically forever, and as long as you just want to buy, lend, and read books, it’s definitely on par with the Kindle and Amazon’s ecosystem. The Kindle does better with outside content and syncing, but if you’re buying an ebook reader to replace your huge paperback collection, the Nook does a great job.”
SlashGear: “The new light diffuser on top of the screen does come with a cost for regular reading, however. As with any display, when you start stacking layers you lose out on clarity of the panel itself, and there’s a dip in crispness noticeable when you’re reading in regular light. Again, it’s not a dealbreaker, but if you’re never planning on using your Simple Touch in low-light situations, it might be worth opting for the non-GlowLight model, which remains on sale alongside this new version.”
USA Today: “By incorporating GlowLight technology into this latest model, Barnes & Noble beats competitors to the punch with a solution that works as promised. (Amazon won’t say but is rumored to be working on similar technology.) As I discovered reading in an otherwise pitch-black bedroom, the light is softer than the illumination from the kind of backlit LCD screen found on tablet computers. The Nook lights the screen uniformly without blinding you or disturbing your partner. I had no trouble making out text.”
New York Times: “There’s no better E Ink model than this new glowing Nook. For the first time in e-reader history, you can have spectacular, crisp pages to read in any light, from beach sunshine to sleeping-spouse darkness. To make matters even sweeter, the glowy Nook weighs even less than its $100 predecessor (the nonilluminated Nook SimpleTouch) — just under 7 ounces. And it’s precisely the same size: 6.5 by 5 by .47 inches.Of course, you pay a price for these advantages. The glowing screen adds $40 to the price, compared to the nonglowing Nook and Kindle models.”
As a voracious reader — I devour at least 2 e-books per week — I actually opted for the similar Amazon Kindle offering and purchased a Kindle Touch for $99 about two weeks ago. I saved $40 by going with the Special Offers ads, which are as non-intrusive as possible: Never in the content, only in the bottom of the Menu screen and on screensavers. Of course, my Kindle Touch lacks the lighting added in the newest Nook model.
To combat that, I ordered the official Kindle Case with integrated light just yesterday. It arrives tomorrow, so I can’t speak to how well it works, but I think the solution is the next best thing to a light within the reader itself.
On the back of the Kindle Touch are two contacts. The case has similar contacts in the same place and when attached to the Kindle, the e-reader’s internal battery powers the light in the case through the contacts. It’s probably not as good a solution as the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, but it should allow me to read in bed without annoying my wife any more than I already do.