At first glance, the Nook doesn’t look too different from Amazon's Kindle but on closer inspection you will notice that it has fewer buttons and a large display area. The Nook is thicker and heavier than a Kindle but is lighter than an iPad. The device can easily be held in one hand but if you want to use it for an extended period, consider using both your hands or keep the device on a flat surface.
The Nook’s design is simple and minimalistic. The On/Off button is located at the top while the bottom portion includes the headphone jack, speakers and Micro-USB slot. The On/Off button also doubles as the Sleep/Wake button. The back portion of the device houses the microSD slot and a removable battery hidden inside a cover. For simplicity of navigation, the Nook also includes back and forward scroll buttons on either side of the screen.
The Nook’s display area is divided into two parts: a 6" grayscale screen and a 3.5" color touchscreen separated by a black band. The grayscale area is similar to Kindle's screen and is powered by E-ink technology that supports 800X600 pixel resolution. The color touchscreen appears captivating and is primarily used for navigation.
The display quality is excellent with the fonts and pictures appearing crisp and clear. By using high contrast, I was able to read from the device even in bright sunlight. You might want to use low contrast settings if you are planning to use the Nook mostly indoors. For ease of reading, the Nook also offers display in 6 different font sizes.
The 3.5" color touchscreen located at the bottom of the display is the heart of the Nook’s navigation system. You can browse through your book collection, shop online or tweak the device settings simply by tapping the touchscreen. You can also use virtual keyboard to search for books from the touchscreen area.
The Nook’s navigation system is intuitive but it takes some time to get used to it. First of all you need to tap the “n" button located on the black band separating the two display areas to activate the touchscreen. Once the touch screen is activated you can select from the following main menus: “the daily" (for periodicals), “my library" (for books), “shop", “reading now", and “settings". Depending on the option you select, you will see a submenu specific to that option. The submenus can have their own set of menus so you need to explore the navigation system a few times to get used to it. For people used to simpler navigation, the Nook’s navigation system would seem confusing and even overwhelming. In case you are confused or “lost", simply press the “n" button to go back to home screen.
The major problem with the Nook’s navigation system is the slow refresh rate of the main display area. You can of course make selections quickly on the touchscreen but don’t expect the pages to load as fast on the upper screen. This is due to use of E-Ink technology that doesn’t support fast refresh rates. If you make your selections too fast, you are likely to see Android’s force close or wait error. Learning how to time your selections is essential if you want to get the best out of your Nook.
Overall, the Nook’s navigation system isn’t the best but it can certainly get better with few firmware and software updates.
Read on to the next page for more of Bright Hub's review of the Barnes & Noble Nook.