According to Barnes & Noble, the most requested feature that customers wanted in an eReader is an integrated light. The Nook Glowlight is identical to the Nook Simple Touch apart from for a gray rather than black border around the edge. It’s somewhat lighter, weighing 6.95 ounces instead of 7.48 ounces, and has a slightly more receptive touch screen.
eInk’s strength is how easy it is to read in bright environments including direct sunshine without any glare or reflection. Not being backlit also helped to reduce the eye strain you sometimes get when reading on an LCD screen. The disadvantage was its inability to read in poorly lit or dark environments. Until now, you had to purchase a case with a built-in light or a clip on light. This review will mainly focus on the difference between this model and the Nook Simple Touch. For a more indepth review of all the features of the Nook Touch, please read my Simple Nook Touch review here
Barnes & Noble was not the very first to integrate a light into its e-ink e-reader (Sony was with its PRS-700), but I’m happy to report that it does a much better job with the lighting and is far more even than that of the Sony.
To access the light, you hold down the Nook button on the front of the device and you do the same to turn it off again. Additionally the light can be dimmed using an onscreen slider to adjust the luminosity and also to prevent bothering a bed partner who’s trying to rest.
The GlowLight uses 8 LEDs that are built into the bezel so it appears as more of a radiance rather than the bright light you get from backlit LCD screens. It produces an even distribution of light throughout the display, although it is slightly brighter at the top. With the light on the contrast is virtually identical to that of the Nook Simple Touch.
The display also features an antiglare screen protector which does help a little with the glare. Not that there is much glare with this or the older Nook Simple Touch unless there is a bright over head light right above you and only then if you hold it at certain angles, but the antiglare protector is a nice addition. Barnes & Noble also throw in an AC adapter and USB cable for charging the gadget; the Kindle only ships with the USB cable.
As I mentioned earlier the GlowLight has a gray border rather than the black one seen on the Nook Simple Touch. The contoured rear end while very easy to hold, can leave fingerprints and smudges.
With the middle of the back indented somewhat, you get a little ridge to hold the Nook from the back
Of course, the GlowLight is the big feature upgrade and main selling point. The design as well as the internal components are pretty much unchanged from the Nook Simple Touch, which continues to be sold and costs $99 ($20 less).
A representative from Barnes & Noble did confirm that there was a hardware change (not a software application fix) that was responsible for the improvement in the touch screen responsiveness.
As for battery life, it is the same 2 months use you got with the previous model and 1 month if you use the light for 30 minutes per day.
Otherwise, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has the same: 6-inch Pearl e-ink touch-screen, Wi-Fi, social networks sharing features with other Nook users, a rechargeable battery using the Micro-USB port and a micro SD slot to increase the standard 2 GB of memory upto 32 GB. The Nook also supports the more open EPUB and PDF formats (including those with Adobe copy-protection). Certain ebooks can easily additionally be “offered” to fellow Nook owners for 2 weeks at a time, and the Nook Simple Touch supports free of cost e-book loaners from regional collections.
Barnes & Noble has come a long way since it released its very first e-ink Nook, which differentiated itself with a strip of color scheme LCD and had its share of bugs at launch.
Today, the overall individual experience, from the hardware design to the individual interface, enhanced shopping, long battery life, quick page turns, and additional reading attributes (built-in dictionary, highlighting/note-taking, social networks, and lots of font options) is truly rather really good. Checking out magazines and papers (most call for a subscription) also works surprisingly well now on these kinds of devices, even one this small.
The Kindle Touch does have a few features missing from the Nook, most notably sound.
The big question, of course, is whether that integrated light is worth the $20 over the Nook Simple Touch or indeed the Kindle Touch (ad version)? Well many of the cases with integrated lights actually cost even more than $20, and while clip-on lights typically cost just around $20, they aren’t as stylish or as good a lighting option. Barnes & Noble is additionally throwing in the previously mentioned AC adapter along with that pre-installed anti glare screen protector that most eReaders manufacturers aren’t, this alone is worth around $20. Plus it is ad free unlike the $99 Kindle Touch
For those who will get good use out of the light, then the new Nook Glowlight comes highly recommended.
UPDATE - Barnes & Noble have cut the price of the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight to a very reasonable $99.