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GUEST REVIEW: Bettie Sharpe on the Nook Touch

The New Nook Simple Touch Reader: Awesome for Reading and Buying Books. Everything else? Meh.

Pretty_nook-touchWhen I told my husband why I needed—needed!—the new Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader to replace my 2.5 year old Sony PRS 700, I tried to impress with tech specs. I mentioned the 6.5” super crisp Pearl E-Ink screen with z-Force infrared touch technology (the same system used in Sony’s latest generation of touch screen readers), the 800MHz Texas Instruments OMAP3 processor (same processor family as in the Nook Color!), the 802.11 WiFi b/g/n connectivity, the spacious 2GB of internal storage with memory expansion of up to 32GB thanks to the micro-SD card slot, and the 80% reduction in flashing during page turns compared to other e-ink readers like the Kindle and Sony which use the same Pearl E-Ink screens. Added to that, this new Nook weighs in at a svelte 7.48oz, making it easier to hold during an hours-long reading binge than the 10.1oz behemoth that was my old Sony.

“It’ll be great!” I said. “I’ll take it on the bus and the train to work. It’ll fit in my bag. We can go everywhere together!”

To which my darling smart-ass husband replied, “…And you will love it and pet it and name it George.”

“Yeah.” I said. “I will name it George.”

So let me tell you about my week with George.

To start off, I should probably make a few things clear. Despite the talk on the interwebs about the Simple Touch Reader’s secret vestigial web browser, this device is not and never will be an iPad with an e-ink screen and a two month battery life. If you were delusional enough to expect all that from a $140 device, this probably won’t be the first time you’ve been disappointed. Or the last.

The new Nook isn’t meant to be a tablet or a web device. It doesn’t have apps (yet). It doesn’t play music, or YouTube, or games (low-frame rate versions of Angry Birds, aside). This device was designed to let you read and buy books. As the name says, the new Nook Simple Touch is a Reader—and when it comes to simply reading, it rocks.

Size:

STR_v_Sony

In this case, smaller is better. George isn’t burdened with a keyboard like the Kindle, so he’s about the size of a paperback book, and he was made to be held. His rubbery coating may be a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but it makes the device feel solid in your hands. (I’m still traumatized by the memory of the day on the bus when a swift stop ripped my slick, sleek Sony right out of my hand dashed it to the floor.) The indentation in the back adds to the comfy grip and sense of security—I’ve taken George on the train and the bus all week and not worried a bit about losing him.

Touch:

 

nookSTR_numbered

1
The Book icon is always at the top left of your screen, meaning you’re never more than a touch away from whatever you’re reading.
2
The WiFi, battery, and clock icons show up on the home screen, and on the in-book menu you access by tapping the vertical center of any page in your book.
3
The home screen prominently displays your book, and your page-place.
4
The home screen also displays your three most-recently downloaded books, and a link to your library.
5
About one half of the home screen real-estate is devoted to books available in the Nook store. I don’t like it, but it’s subsidizing the cost of the hardware, so I won’t complain…too much.
6
No matter where you are, the “n” Nook button brings up the menu.
7
Two buttons inset in the right and left sides of the bezel allow you to turn pages with your right or left hand.

The touch interface is mostly intuitive, and way better than dealing with buttons and an attached keyboard. Though the Nook STR does sport two extremely convenient page turn buttons on each side of its sturdy bezel, the influence of the iPhone/iPad is evident in the Nook’s single menu button at the bottom of the bezel. While I do think George is quite the handsome gadget, I wouldn’t mind less style and more buttons. At least one more button—even with the secondary in-book menu you can call by tapping the vertical center of the screen, I still really miss the Back button on my Sony.

The touch screen is convenient, but it’s infrared, not capacitive, so if you’re expecting iPhone-like responsiveness, don’t. Where the touch-screen Sony readers offer a stylus for precision in text selection and typing, the Nook STR does not. Consequently, I‘ve had trouble selecting text and typing notes, which makes features like Twitter and Facebook quote-sharing frustrating from the start.

The on-screen keyboard is sometimes troublesome, though I think it’s worth a little trouble to be free of the awkward bulk of a physical keyboard. The problem is that my endless (and often unsuccessful) quest for proper punctuation keeps me flipping back and forth between the symbol and letter keyboard screens and the caps screen. The keyboard doesn’t always update to reflect the proper letters, leaving me to type one letter while the screen displays another. Frustrating.

Stamina—er, Battery Life

Much has been made in other reviews of the Nook Touch’s two-month battery-life. That’s up to two months if you keep the WiFi off the whole time, and read for about half an hour a day. As if any Romance reader worth her Keeper Shelf would read for only half an hour at a time. As if anyone who had a WiFi device would voluntarily turn off the WiFi and pretend it wasn’t there. Sure, it could last up to two months, but with regular use and online store browsing the real battery life is probably a bit more than two weeks (for comparison sake, my Sony advertised a two week battery life, but for me it averaged a bit less than a full week.). Either way, this is not a device you need to plug in every night for fear it will leave you high and dry the next day (EVO 4G, I’m looking at you).

Note: Using the hidden not-so-great web browser drains the battery faster than anything else—no wonder B&N pretends the browser doesn’t exist.

Performance:

Reading on the Nook Simple Touch Reader is a joy. George’s Pearl e-Ink screen is so much clearer than my Sony 700 that it feels like the words just fly off the page and into my brain. The reduction in page flashes (it flashes every 5-6 pages instead of every page) takes some getting used to if you’ve already grown accustomed to e-readers. At first, the lack of flash made me think the page hadn’t turned at all, but then I’d start to read the page and notice that all the words on it were different. Magic!

Another great feature is scrolling. Try high-speed scrolling on other e-readers, and you’re likely to get a strobe light effect that makes it difficult to scan the text as it goes by without giving yourself a migraine. Not so, the Nook STR. Though scrolling is still a little flashy, I’ve had no problems scanning text, and no headaches. George’s scroll feature is the closest I’ve come while using an e-reader to flipping the pages of a book.

Out on the Town

The STR comes with free AT&T WiFi, which means free WiFi at Starbucks and other commercial locations served by AT&T. George picks up and connects to WiFi easily, and remembers past connections perfectly.

After several forays into local coffee-houses, I decided to try the Barnes and Noble In-Store experience. I took George to my local Barnes and Noble, sat down on the balcony and fired up the store. George connected to the WiFi right away, but did not stay connected. The system kicked us out several times, and denied me the 1 hour of in-store reading, per book, of books that support the in-store feature. The Nook sales associates were baffled by my experience, but were so polite and certain in their assertions that in-store WiFi problems were rare that I decided to give it another try. I returned later in the same week, and encountered the same problems accessing content and staying connected to the network.

To be fair to those very nice B&N associates, I went to another B&N location a bit further afield to try again. When I walked into the store, George locked into the store WiFi, and choirs of angels began to sing. This in-store thing, when it works, will eat hours of your day. It will lure you into the café for tiramisu to eat while you spend up to an hour reading book after book. It will seduce you to try books you haven’t tried, to browse and browse and browse, and not even the oh-so-useful built in clock in the in-book menu screen will be enough to jolt you out of your reading reverie.

Three and a half hours. Was I really there for three and a half hours? Did I really come so close to actually ordering a second tiramisu? I was! I did! Oh, George, you devil.

Socializing

 

B&N has made a big deal about the social networking features available on the Nook STR. You can post quotes to Facebook and Twitter. I wasn’t really impressed. Actually, I was annoyed. Among the many stipulations to which I was asked to agree before I could start using the social networking connectivity was this: “NOOK by Barnes and Noble may access my data when I’m not using the application…” It weirded me out. But I should have expected something like that after I had to agree to the 140 page EULA (See Terms & Conditions in the Legal Menu) during the initial set-up.

140 pages. Who’s going to read something like that before setting up their shiny new gadget? Not many people. There might have been a clause on page 133 that sold my soul and I’d never know it until Mephistopheles showed up to collect. For all that Barnes and Noble wants me to connect with and make online friends, their terms and contract aren’t friendly at all.

Once you finally manage to select and share those piddly little tweet-sized book quotes on Twitter, B&N automatically and irrevocably appends your tweet with the #NOOK tag, and a shortened link to the book on the Barnes & Noble site—that’s not sharing, it’s advertising! And if you didn’t purchase your book through B&N, you can’t share it at all. The option is grayed out on the menu.

Paying for it

Though you can buy ePub content from other online stores and sideload using a USB connection, B&N aims to make it much easier to order directly from your reader. While the browsing and shopping experience don’t measure up to Amazon, there’s still plenty in the B&N store to tempt your interest. Buying books through B&N is easy. Too damned easy.

How easy? You click “buy”. Then click “confirm.” That’s it. A few seconds later, the book is ready to read.

For security, B&N does offer the option to password protect purchasing, a feature which might also stand as a buffer between the customer and those oh-so-appealing impulse buys, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Like the Kindle, the Nook was designed to sell content, and it does that very well.

On the plus side, unlike the Kindle, the Nook reads ePub format, which means I didn’t lose all the books I’d purchased for my Sony when I switched platforms. I had to use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer the Sony DRM content from my computer to George, but it worked great. The day before buying George, I bought Magic Slays from the Sony store. I started reading it on the Sony and finished it on the Nook with only a two minute delay to transfer the content.

Note: While you can read content from the Sony Store on the Nook, you cannot read content from B&N on the Sony. Also, while the Nook STR does read PDFs, there does not appear to be a zoom feature for PDF images. This made several PDFs and images I viewed pretty much unreadable. Specifically, the map in the opening pages of Game of Thrones, which I read in-store for an hour, was useless.

Shelf Improvement

 

Though I adore George, there are several issues I hope Barnes & Noble will fix or change in the next software upgrade for the Nook Simple Touch.

1) Problem with reviews written on the Nook STR.

The perfectly-punctuated and spaced review of Ilona Andrews’ Magic Slays that wrote and uploaded with George came out looking like this on the B&N site:

Magic+slays%2C+Andrews+rules%21

Every+book+is+a+stay-up-too-late%2C+can%27t-put-it-down+read%2C+and+%22Magic+Slays%22+was+no+exception.+It%27s+always+too+long+until+the+next+book.+Andrews+has+been+an+auto-buy+for+me+since+the+first+book%2C+and+they+never+disappoint.%0A

2) The screen unlock

Every review I’ve read of the Nook Simple Touch Reader has complained about the screen lock which requires the user to push the “n” button and then slide a finger across the screen. I’m complaining, too. The feature is annoying, and it doesn’t always work on the first swipe. Grr! Also, it would be nice if the screen had a security/password option. The password option on my Sony was clunky and difficult, but it was there, and I used it.

3) The Vestigial Browser
Twitter_on_STR

This feature isn’t in the menu or in the official specs, but if you enter a url in the search field, the Nook will open a simple, quasi-functional web browser. The browser proves the device can support fuller Internet-connectivity, if only B&N would enable it.

I’d love to cover other topics in this review, like my experiences with the mysterious the vestigial browser, and rooting options but I’m running out of space. Let’s continue the discussion in the comments. If you have questions, about the device, ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

Conclusion:

The Nook Simple Touch Reader is no super-powered Kindle-killer, but is a lightweight, elegant and intuitive refinement of the e-ink reader device. Despite its flaws, I adore my STR, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an e-reader with an emphasis on the “read.”

small_nook-w-Cats-Tale

About:

Bettie Sharpe is a Los Angeles writer and gadget enthusiast. Her novella Cat’s Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold will be available June 27th from Carina Press. Her short story “Each Step Sublime”will be part of the Agony/Ecstasy Anthology edited by Jane Litte and released by Berkeley Heat in Fall 2011. Learn more at bettiesharpe.com

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

48 Comments

  1. GUEST REVIEW: Bettie Sharpe on the Nook Touch | My Blog
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 05:22:35

    [...] the rest here: GUEST REVIEW: Bettie Sharpe on the Nook Touch This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged awesome, barnes, buying, noble, noble-nook, [...]

  2. reasoncare
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 06:53:27

    One MAJOR fail. B&N bought and currently owns Fictionwise and eReader.com. The N1E (original Nook) supported .pdb = secure eReader format. This new device doesn’t. If you are like me and own a couple of thousand DRM’d .pdb books and would rather have continued to just use them by putting in the simple encryption key, this is a step backwards.

    Yes, it is not undoable to find the DRM stripping plug in tools and reload all your current Calibre data (if you already use it) to strip the DRM. You end up with PMLZ files that need to be further converted.

    Or start using Calibre, with the separately available from 3rd parties toolset.

    Ahem. Although it would be arguably illegal in the US “so of course *I* wouldn’t suggest that people do that.AHEM.

    But once you strip the DRM you can use anything – A Kindle, a Nook 2, or something else entirely.

    I do get a day (4 to 6 hours continuous reading) out of my Android tablet, and the iReader app can read the books still in encrypted form so that’s one option. But, as you note, for a heavy reader And Barnes & Noble abandoning the .pdb support doesn’t necessarily make me trust them to continue support of anything in the long term.

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  3. Evangeline Holland
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 07:37:48

    Awesome review. I too own a Sony PRS 700, and have been looking to upgrade to another e-Reader in the near future. I’m sorely tempted by the Kindle since everyone and their grandma is on there, but I love the .epub format, which sways me towards the nook. However, as mentioned above, the digital marketplace is so saturated by the Kindle, it’s difficult to find trusted opinions about other e-Readers, so I thank you and Jane for this piece!

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  4. Barbara
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 07:54:46

    I really hate that I already bought a Nook a few months ago – one that I can’t stand using. I have a feeling I’d probably really like this one and I’d have saved myself a lot of money. :(

    I keep finding ways to read books on my Kindle and let the stuff on my Nook sit until the last possible minute because I hate just picking it up, it feels so clunky.

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  5. Mike Cane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 08:19:52

    Great review. Puts all the others to shame with information they didn’t contain.

    What about organizing books? You must have many, so can you mix in the B&N purchased with the sideloaded on shelves? And do the covers of the sideloaded ones show up?

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  6. LG
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 08:21:41

    I love my Nook, although I’m cursing a little because if I had waited just 3 or so months I could have gotten it cheaper (not sure if I would have wanted a Nook Touch, based on this post, although the lighter weight and the stuff in the “performance” section sounds nice).

    It’s too bad that, from the sounds of things, the Nook Touch doesn’t handle PDFs any better than the Nook. If PDFs were easier to convert into something else, I’d gripe slightly less, but it’s really painful that the only font size that doesn’t butcher a PDF on the Nook is “small”, which I consider to be unreadable.

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  7. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 08:25:12

    @Evangeline Holland I’ve been using the nooktouch for a few days and I love the touch screen and the buttons which allow for one handed use (something that the nook color doesn’t really allow).

    The biggest complaint I have about the nooktouch is that you have to use a USB cord to get a book onto the nook touch AND that it has a poor file management. I.e., you can’t delete the sideloaded books from the nooktouch.

    Additionally, only 250 MB of the nooktouch can be used for sideloaded books. This is easily gotten around by using a microsd card.

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  8. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 08:26:53

    @Mike Cane Organizing works fine. You can mix the B&N purchased books with sideloaded books on the shelves and so long as the cover is embedded in the metadata, the sideloaded books show up with covers on the nooktouch.

    ReplyReply

  9. LG
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 08:27:16

    @Mike Cane: Ooh, yes, I’d love to know these things too!

    ReplyReply

  10. brooksse
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 09:07:54

    Like reasoncare, the lack of .pdb support is a major fail for me. My fictionwise library has 35 to 40 .pdb ebooks. And of the I already own, only a couple are from B&N, so not being able to use the wifi to download non-B&N content combined with their limitation on sideloaded content was another sticking point for me. And since I don’t purchase content from B&N, the Nook STR isn’t a significant improvement over my current Sony Touch reader.

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  11. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 09:57:12

    @brooksse You are right. For non Nook buyers, this doesn’t have a lot of advantages over the Sony Touch reader. I can’t recall the price differential. The interesting thing will be to compare it to the Kobo Touch but I won’t get to review that one until the end of July. They don’t go on sale here for another month.

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  12. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:05:53

    @Jane: I forgot to mention you can’t delete from the STR. I HATE that – and I don’t really have a thing against tethering. The “Delete Book” feature is available on the Sony, and my preferred method of organization is just to remove books from the device after I’ve read them. Having to tether in order to delete is forcing me to find another method of organization, which is bad because as Jane said, the organization options aren’t that great. #YATRWPF (Yet Another Thing Rooting Will Probably Fix)

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  13. Brian
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:11:27

    @Bettie, @Jane,

    Have either of you noticed ghosting on the screen during those 5-6 fast page turns? I’ve only played with a nook touch for about a half hour, but saw some fairly noticeable ghosting from time to time.

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  14. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:18:51

    @Mike Cane: The covers of sideloaded books do not show up on the library view, though they are displayed when you open the books. I used Adobe DE to load 6 books from my Sony account, and none of the covers show up. However, it seems to be a formatting issue, not a loading issue because the sideloaded epub copy my publisher sent of Cat’s Tale shows up in the library with cover intact.

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  15. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:24:14

    @Bettie Sharpe: I think it depends on the formatting of the ebook. Frex, after I download all the metadata and add the cover for a book in calibre, I reformat the epub to embed the changes. The covers all show up on the nook. And yes, even the arcs I get from Carina Press have the covers correctly embedded. CP is one publisher that knows what it is doing in terms of making a digital book look good.

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  16. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:35:11

    @Brian: No ghosting during page turns for me, but I have seen it a couple of times leftover from the “screensaver”.

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  17. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:37:13

    @Brian: Not sure about the ghosting myself. I’ve only been able to read, uninterrupted, about 50 pages on the nooktouch. (I had a defective one wherein the pages began cycling by themselves without any input and thus returned it and had it replaced).

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  18. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:59:03

    @Jane: Calibre makes everything better.

    @brooksse: There are a lot of things to like about the Sony – ever since they upgraded to the Pearl e-Ink screens and z-Force infrared touch, they’ve been totally lust-worthy. Before the Nook STR came out, I had my eye on the PRS 650 – it was just like my 700 minus all the things that bugged me. But Sony seemed to be lagging behind in the e-reader market, and Smart Ass and I still have a major grudge against them for discontinuing support of Linux on the PS3, and I had this niggling fear that if I bought the 650 they would discontinue it the way they had the 700. Apparently my fear was well-founded, since on a trip to the Sony store the day after I bought George, my favorite store rep (the same guy who sold me my 700 on preorder back in 2008) told me Sony had stopped making the 650, and he hadn’t yet been told which device (if any) would replace it.

    A couple of things I miss about my Sony – as mentioned in the review, the “Back” button. Man, that thing was handy. Also, the lack of advertising on the home screen. More than half the home screen of the Nook STR is taken up by advertising in the form of the “What to read next” section. And since the “New reads section only shows the latest 3 books downloaded from B&N (as opposed to the actual 3 newest books on the device) it’s pretty much advertising, too. Yes, B&N priced this device low to create new customers, but I really don’t like the many petty ways they have privileged their content over other content – the forced B&N links on shared quotes, not allowing you to share from sideloaded content, not displaying new sideloaded titles in the “new” section on the home screen.

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  19. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:04:15

    @Bettie Sharpe: That’s a very good point about the home screen. I find it nearly unuseable because of what you say. On the nook color, you could put YOUR books (if only the stuff you purchased from BN) on the main page, but the nook touch home screen doesn’t allow this. There is one section for the book you are currently reading, a small link to your library and then a rolling screen of books that BN would like you to buy. It’s rather confusing because I keep looking at the scrolling list as books that I’ve purchased. Only, no.

    The other thing I wish I could do is re order my shelves so I think that the “best practices” is probably to number the shelves since the shelves appear to organize themselves numerically and then alphabetically.

    Oh, and another thing. Apparently BN nook books do not automatically sync so you must remember to hit the sync button everytime you are done reading the nook book or else when you start up the same book on a nook app or nook pc, it won’t sync. Kind of irritating.

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  20. Cara
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:11:14

    I’m not saying this as any kind of defense for any reader (Nook STR, Kindle, or otherwise), but at this point in the game it always kind of amazes me when format is an issue. Companies like Amazon and B&N are interested in making money. Which means their primary interest is in getting you to purchase as many books from their stores as possible. They’re not interested in making their device friendly to other ebook sources. That’s just business.

    The workaround is exactly like others have said. Learn how to strip the DRM from your books (which is free and frankly not that difficult) and use Calibre (also free), to convert your files to whatever format your device takes. Is it kind of annoying to have to do so? Yes! But you know, talk to the publishers about DRM, then, and good luck there.

    The only other option is to allow yourself to be limited to the dictates of a company, which I personally find insulting. I refuse. And maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t expect companies like Amazon or B&N to put my every wish over their profit margin. So I shop for the device with the hardware and features I like best, then *I* determine what stores I use for ebook purchases. And I make damn sure that when I purchase an ebook, that file gets downloaded to my computer first, where I can back it up. It’s the closest thing I have to actually “owning” the book I paid money for.

    Aside from that, I’m kind of surprised you can’t delete sideloaded content from the Nook STR. You can do so from the original Nook. Maybe they’ll fix that in a software update? Seems kind of stupid that they took that step back on a new device, though. Everything else looks shiny, however! I really want one. The size and simplicity of it really appeals to my personal aesthetic. Thanks for such a comprehensive review!

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  21. Vi
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:28:24

    Jane, I want to make sure I understand correctly. I know you mentioned it on Twitter too: you can buy books from bn via wifi but you can’t download books via wifi? You have to plug it in to your computer. You are not referring to sideloading.

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  22. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:51:40

    @Cara: Cara, I don’t disagree with a thing you’ve said. The state of e-Readers right now is like the Wild West – not the lawless free-for-all of the popular imagination, but a vast empty landscape in which your only options for a little civilization are ranch-owned or Company towns where the law ain’t on your side and everyone has to be a bit of a criminal just to live comfortably.

    I liked the hardware specs of the Nook STR, the size, and the form, but the main reason I decided to take a chance and throw in my lot with this particular Evil Empire is because B&N and Google/Android haven’t yet done anything to really piss me off (like Amazon’s 1984 debacle, or Sony removing the advertised Linux option from the PS3). Also the possibility of rooting the device is like having my own personal posse of outlaws waiting outside the Gray Bar Hotel with a stick of dynamite and an extra horse. If B&N bugs me too much, I can void my warranty and head for the hills.

    For the record, I’m not angry B&N is trying to sell me stuff – I expected that. I’m just annoyed they’re being so ham-handed about it. My rule with advertisers (and I think this is true of a lot of people my age with disposable incomes) is: Don’t piss me off. But it seems like the STR is aimed at an older, less tech-savy demographic – people who want a reader that just buys and reads, which the STR does very well – so maybe B&N doesn’t care how I feel about their sledgehammer marketing techniques.

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  23. GIVEAWAY: One Slightly Used Nook Color | Dear Author
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:00:54

    [...] GUEST REVIEW: Bettie Sharpe on the Nook Touch [...]

  24. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:01:24

    @Vi: You can easily buy and download books from B&N via WiFi, but you cannot download non B&N content from email, getdropbox.com, or other stores.* If you want anything on your Nook Simple Touch Reader that did not come from B&N, you have to tether.

    * For the record, I’ve used the vestigial web browser to try downloading from my email, my website, and my Dropbox. The content appears to download, but it is not visible on the device either in the library, or when I tether the device to my computer and explore it like a drive.

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  25. Lefer
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:52:12

    @Bettie. George sounded too good to be true, so I went to my local BN and groped his brother Jim for a half hour to see if he was as great as George. He was everything you said he was and more, although I didn’t buy him. I liked reading on it. Did not like the home screen “buy me next” feature, but could live with it. I want to see the new Kobo touch measures up.

    There is a Back button, of sorts on the STR nook touch. Swipe the black strip at the top of the screen from right to left which is between the 1 and 2 you marked on the pic. It’s awkwardly placed.

    @Vi. The wifi BN purchases will auto download to the STR.

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  26. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:57:23

    @Vi: As others have said, you can shop and download books from the bn.com store using wifi. That’s about all that the wifi can be used for.

    For any other content purchased somewhere other than BN, the content needs to be sideloaded via the USB or placed on a microsd card.

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  27. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:58:29

    @Lefer: An associate told me the STR might have some sort of “Back” swipe because the nook color had the feature, but then neither of us could get it to work on the instore model. After reading your comment, I tried again, and it worked! As you said, it is awkward, but it’s there. Thank you!

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  28. Phoebe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 13:12:53

    Oh oh oh, I am so excited about the Nook STR. I’ve had a classic since September, and while I’ve generally been fairly happy with it, it seems like it “corrects” many of the things that have bugged me about it (and I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my huge glut of B&N ebooks or bother with reformatting them, either). Only thing I think I’d miss is the 3g.

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  29. Erica
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 13:58:39

    Absolutely great review! And the follow-up comments are just as informative. Thanks!

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  30. Karenmc
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 14:50:19

    Really thorough and well-organized review. I was interested when the device was first released because mention was made of the web browser. Good to know that it’s not all that hot.

    I bought the Kindle with Special Offers recently and am trying to get used to the cumbersome buttons. I thought the size was appealing and reading would be easier than on my old Touch. Instead, the e-ink page is almost too dark for my taste, and the page flashing is annoying.I may be giving the Kindle to a friend who has yet to enter the ebook world.

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  31. Jane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 15:13:45

    @Karenmc I think that the eink contrast on the Kindle is slightly whiter than on the nooktouch. The nook touch, however, buffers about five pages so the big black flash only occurs about five pages. The refresh rate for the nook touch and the Kindle is about the same but the lack of the big black flash on the nook touch makes it seem faster. Here’s a horrible upside video. I’ll make another one someday.

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  32. Mike Cane
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 15:20:14

    For those interested in the rooting aspects, I’ve just posted an update on programs others confirm work:
    http://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/nook-touch-rooting-brief-update/

    I don’t know how long it will take them to bear down on this and make it as easy as the NookColor.

    Also, remember that rooting will do away with the eInk page buffering, so pages will flash on every turn with programs like Kindle, Aldiko, and FBreader. (The page buffering will remain when returning to native Nook Touch land.)

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  33. brooksse
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 15:43:30

    @Jane: From what I’ve read about the new Kobo, their wifi is also limited to purchasing and downloading content from Kobo. And it lacks page turn buttons. At this point, it’s not worth trading my Sony for another epub device that doesn’t allow downloading from email or dropbox. (My Kindle has spoiled me in that regard. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next generation of Kindles will include a touchscreen that also keeps all their current funcitonality – send docs to your kindle, web browser, 3G.)

    @Bettie Sharpe:
    The newer Sony models don’t have a back button either. You have to use the menu button and use the menu items to go back to the previous view or menu. Regarding the Sony Touch being discontinued, if Sony plans to introduce new models this fall, they would normally start selling out their previous year’s models around this time. But the 6-inch devices have been hard to find for a while now, which makes me think Sony may have abandoned the 6-inch market in the U.S.

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  34. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 17:49:29

    @Mike Cane: Good point about the buffering, and thanks for the link. I’m watching the developments in Nook STR, waiting for a simple and streamlined process. Given all that was accomplished in the STR’s first week out, I’m sure I won’t have to wait long.

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  35. Brian
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 18:17:51

    The interesting thing will be to compare it to the Kobo Touch but I won’t get to review that one until the end of July. They don’t go on sale here for another month.

    FYI, Borders has changed their availability date and are saying folks placing orders can have it by Fathers Day (except for the one with a blue back).

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  36. becca
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 08:49:15

    Teleread also has a good review of the Nook Touch, including some drawbacks not mentioned here.

    http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/review-nook-simple-touch-reader-by-john-schember/

    as always, read the comments.

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  37. Bettie Sharpe
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 09:42:51

    @becca: Thanks for the link, Becca! The Teleread review is very thorough, and brings up some issues I didn’t even think of, like the fact that you cannot NOT connect your Nook STR to WiFi and the B&N site. The other thing it mentions that I didn’t notice is that you can’t see purchased Nook books when you tether the device. Grrr! Both of these aspects make a strong case for rooting the device when that option becomes feasible for my particular level of technological (in)competence.

    Anyway, if any readers of this review are considering purchasing a NookSTR, I highly recommend you check out the Teleread review, too. I love reading on my STR, but the device does have limitations, and it’s better to know those limitations going in than to be surprised after the purchase.

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  38. Michael Doyle
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 11:00:24

    @bettie You can delete–but just books bought from the Nook store, apparently. B&N just calls it “Archive.” Double-click any title in your library to bring up that title’s info page, and you’ll see the Archive button if you bought it through the Nook store. When you press Archive, the book’s contents are removed from the Nook STR but remain in the cloud in your B&N account. A list of archived books stays on the STR in case you want to redownload them to the device later. Too bad they don’t make this explicit. I had to learn this through trial and error.

    That said, I’m very tech- and web-savvy, but I never, ever thought I wanted an eReader. I’m very happy to read my way through the Chicago Public Library. But 10 days ago I saw the Nook STR displayed in a B&N store and picked it up. I had just come from an Apple Store where I held an iPad for the first time and couldn’t believe how heavy it was. The Nook STR shocked me with how light and small it was, how easily it fit (and how well it felt) in my hand, and how seamless the page turning felt. It blew me away.

    Five days later I went back to B&N and bought one, and I’ve rarely come up for air in the past five days. It is amazing how this device just invites you to pick it up, start reading, and stay reading. I’m reading now at times and in locations I haven’t in years! Thank you for a great review.

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  39. Karenmc
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 11:48:51

    @Jane: Thanks for the video. The nook does seems even darker than the Kindle, but the absence of the black flash is a big plus.

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  40. LizJ
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 13:58:21

    Although I’m really happy with the refurbished 1st gen iPad I got a few months ago ($340 w/full warranty from the online Apple store, and I think it’s less now), I thought the Nook Touch might be a potential Father’s Day gift for dear hubby. I saw it at the store and I was underwhelmed by everything but the size/weight.That does make a difference when you are reading for long periods, and the Nook Touch seems to be the first ebook reader that really gets that right.

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  41. Mike Cane
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:49:11

    >>>From what I’ve read about the new Kobo, their wifi is also limited to purchasing and downloading content from Kobo.

    @brooksse This is no longer true. Kobo has put in a web browser. It’s primitive but likely to get some improvements as they update the firmware.
    http://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/new-kobo-touch-has-a-web-browser/

    That said, don’t expect to use it — or any browser built into a Kindle or Nook — to download eBooks from any site or store. I wish they could!

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  42. brooksse
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 21:56:30

    @Mike Cane:
    I didn’t mean having wifi & a web browser just for surfing the web, not really interested in browsing on an e-ink device. I was referring specifically to wifi & a web browser that could be used to download content onto the device from places other than the device maker’s bookstore. Such as attachments to emails or via calibre or by logging into my dropbox account. And even from sites that sell DRM-free content, like the multiformat ebooks in my fictionwise library. And yes, I can do (and have done) that using the wifi & web browser on my Kindle 3.

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  43. Bettie Sharpe
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 03:55:02

    Update – The battery life with wi-fi on and moderate to heavy reading: 1.5 weeks. And instead of giving me a low battery warning, George just froze up. If Jane hadn’t already tweeted about this problem, I probably would have freaked out and thought the reader was broken. As it was, I plugged it in, and now I’m annoyed that the reader has to charge for 15 minutes before it will display content.

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  44. Ebook Buyer’s Guide: Know When to Buy an eReader and When to Wait - Dear Author
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 09:50:29

    [...] RumorsNoneRecommended: BuyFeatures:6″ Pearl eInkTouchscreenWifiMicroSDReleases:05/11|Review: LinkKobo Touch $129Recent RumorsNoneRecommended: BuyFeatures:6″ Pearl [...]

  45. Tracy
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 11:54:07

    I found your review and very much enjoyed learning more about the touch. I’m considering buying one for my mom. I went to a B & N and the woman behind the counter knew NOTHING about the device – so sad. Anyway, it says that the device accepts (non B & N content) epubs and pdfs. Does it have Adobe Digital Editions on it? If so does it accept regular pdf’s? A friend told me that her original nook accepted pdf’s and it would increase the font if necessary. She also said that the NookColor increases the actual page size on a pdf so it’s difficult to read the document. Which does the Touch do? Thanks in advance for any info you can give me.

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  46. Jane
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 21:41:33

    @Tracy Yes, you can read books that use ADE. It does accept PDFs, however, whether you can increase the font on the PDF largely depends on the PDF and the way it was created. Not all PDFs were created the same.

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  47. RK
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 15:54:40

    Excellent review, thanks so much!

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  48. 2011 Holiday Buying Guide for EReaders - Dear Author
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 09:44:14

    [...] a hands on review of the Vox, the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire. Not to mention the Kindle Touch, Nook Touch, and Nook Color. But once you have the device or your loved one has the device, what next? Now it [...]

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