After much deliberation and searching, I finally broke down and bought an "eReader". The new price cuts of the Amazon Kindle (down to $189) and the B&N Nook (down to $149 (wifi) and $199 (wifi & 3G)) got my friends and I talking about them, comparing them, and wondering about them. I had a $30 gift certificate to Best Buy (who sells the nook) and am doing a lot more traveling these days (we bought a camp on a lake in Maine), so I decided to splurge and pick one up. Disappointingly, Best Buy only carries the wifi+3G Nook, not the less expensive wifi-only one. I don't really think I need the 3G, especially as it doesn't look like the area where our camp is located is covered by the AT&T network (I don't have T-Mobile 3G but my wife has Verizon 3G). But I'm an impatient guy and want it now, so I splurged on the 3G version (disappointingly, 3G coverage seems to be the only difference).
I got it home, opened it up and here are my first impressions after lightly playing with it for a couple of hours:
- It came with 1.3 version of the software, which I got to use for about 10 minutes, then it installed 1.4 automatically (and a little invisibly). Didn't really notice any difference.
- You can't read it in the dark. Seriously, I wasn't sure about this! Guess that's why all the little book lights are sold for it.
- It flashes from black on white, to all black, to black on white on every page turn, although I guess you get used to it. After playing with it for a couple of hours, it has already faded from notice, although not completely. The Kindle does this too. I'm surprised no review of these readers ever mentions this.
- The touchscreen isn't as responsive as I'd like. And supposedly you can "swipe" it when it is dark to "turn" the pages, but that is even more sporadic. Not worth even doing. Edit: After reading the user manual, it seems there is a special swipe to use - make sure your finger is moving before it hits the screen. This seems to work better but it still annoyingly misses swipes, or turns the screen back into the menu selection.
- If you have any idea you'll get a nook, or even if you don't, get a bn.com account set up. You'll need it to register your nook.
- You need a working credit card even to download free stuff. I hadn't used my account in so long my CC on record was expired and I couldn't download anything.
- I got 3 books with it free - Pride & Prejudice, Dracula, and Little Women.
- There's currently an excellent promotion with a bunch of free classic eBooks like Huckleberry Finn, Red Badge Of Courage and more. Get an account and "buy" them, which puts them in your eLibrary, where you can later download them, either to your computer or your nook: All-American B&N Classic eBooks
- You really really really want a touchscreen for the big screen too. At least I do, as I'm used to a touchscreen on my phone. Sometimes lists will show up and it is just soooo painful to scroll down the list using the arrow buttons on the little touchscreen. I realize there are tradeoffs here, but still... I did find one handy shortcut - press and hold on the down arrow and the cursor will skip to the bottom selection.
- Looks like many books are wifi download only, making the 3G even more useless.
- There's only like a dozen magazines and an equal number of newspapers, so that's hardly a big selling point. Wish there were more magazines.
- Speaking of sparse, they waste a button for "games", which is chess & soduku. Woo hoo. It would be nice if they opened up a "market" for the Nook, as then all the Android software could move over to it.
- Looks like plenty of bookmarking and note taking capabilities, but I haven't explored them much. You can only use these on books, not blog posts or other docs.
- My page on the B&N social site is: My B&N. Come by and be my friend there :)
More notes from playing with it since yesterday:
- The lending feature is something else that is overblown. You can only lend some books, and then only once for a short 14 days.
- Calibre is one sweet eBook management system!
- PDF reading is pretty rudimentary. At small font size, it scales to fit the display, but it really hard to read. At bigger font sizes, the line and page breaks are wacky. Hopefully, as I use Calibre to convert to ePub, it will be better.
- It doesn't recognize MP3 v1.1 tags, so I needed to make sure the v2.3 tags were up to date on my songs. And even then, it doesn't look like the nice little color display shows the cover images :(
- I wonder how good the graphics conversion works? Haven't tried installing any wallpapers or screensavers yet.
- From The-eBook-Reader.com comes some nice site lists: Free eBooks and Where To Buy eBooks
- Man, eBooks sure are expensive! I know even paperbacks are expensive these days, but still - $10 for most eBooks? Ouch.