New Nook Update (1.3)

23 04 2010

There is a new update for the Nook today.  I checked it out, and decided to do a point-by-point write-up of the new features.

Read Ebooks for Free In-store

This is basically an extension of what was already available, from what I can tell.  Originally, when you went to a brick and mortar Barnes and Noble, you could access excerpts of any book.  Now, you can read any book while you’re in-store.  However, you are limited to one book per hour per day.  You could theoretically read hour segments of several books in one day and/or the same book an hour each every day.

[Side Effect of More Features/Better Accessibility]

Because there are new features in this update, and because they wanted to make the wi-fi and audio functions more accessible, there are now more buttons on the home screen.  Previously all the buttons fit without you having to scroll.  Now you have to scroll from side to side in order to see them all:

I don’t have a picture of the home screen before the update, but “games,” “wi-fi,” “audio,” and “web” didn’t have buttons on the home screen previously.

Games

With this update, games were added to the Nook.  So far, only Sudoku and Chess are available.  I took some time to play around with both a little bit.  They seem pretty straight forward and functional.  The main game is displayed on the e-ink screen, while a close-up, interactive view is on the color touch screen.

I don’t see myself playing the games very often, personally, but they do seem to fit well with the Nook.  I can see taking your Nook on the plane to read, and mixing things up by playing some sudoku on a long flight.

Wider Wi-Fi Access

Honestly, I have no idea what they mean by this.  Maybe there are now more Barnes and Noble hot spots?  I noticed that some reviewers speculated that this meant people could now access “open” wireless networks that require you to sign in through a web page.  As far as I can tell by testing it out, this is not the case.  In my experience, the new (beta) web browser is only accessible when you’re already connected to the wi-fi (it is not accessible through 3G).

Beta Surfing Online

This is the update that most excited me.  Even with an e-ink screen, it seems like the Nook could be a reasonably internet-capable device.  The browser is set up similarly to the games in that the e-ink display shows the main portion of what you’re viewing, while the color touch screen shows a smaller portion.

You can navigate/scroll a page using either the page turning buttons, or the touch screen.  You are able to add favorites, zoom, clear your browsing history, etc.  The main problem I ran into occurred when trying to enter text into fields.  Usually when you click on a field, the virtual keyboard pops up.

However, I found that sometimes it would instead jump to a dialog box asking me to choose an input method, and either giving me no options from which to choose and freezing, or giving me only the “android keyboard” option.  This problem occurred infrequently for me, however.

I found I was able to post to Twitter.  Staying logged into Twitter wasn’t very feasible, though, since it was very slow, and would try to refresh the e-ink screen whenever Twitter refreshed, which didn’t translate well to the e-ink screen.

I was not able to log into the admin portion of WordPress.  It merely navigated to a blank page.  Google Reader looked promising, but only loaded the top half of the page, and none of the links/articles were clickable/readable.  I did successfully log into Gmail.  There was limited functionality, but I was able to see my inbox, and open messages.  While unable to log into the admin portion of WordPress, I was able to load the front page of my blog.

Overall, it’s easy to see why the browser is in beta, but it seems workable.  In some ways it reminds me of the PS3 browser (especially because you have to scroll around a lot).

Preordering Books

Now, you can preorder books through the Nook store.  I doubt it’s a feature I’ll use much, but it seems like a nice addition.  There is no specific section in the store for preorders, so you need to search for the book you want.  Once I found a preorder-able book, it all looked pretty straight forward.

Enhanced Performance

Supposedly this update included faster load times when opening books, and faster page-turn times.  I was skeptical that I would be able to notice a difference, but it actually does look like everything navigates more quickly and smoothly.  This is a welcome update because sometimes the Nook would feel sluggish.  I know people who have tried both the Nook and Kindle bemoaned the slowness of the Nook in comparison.  I don’t know how it stacks up now comparatively, but it has definitely improved.

Wrap-up

This was a pretty hefty update (especially compared to the previous update that mostly seemed to change the home screen buttons).  I will have to see over time how often I use the new features such as the web browser and the games.  If nothing else, I can see myself using Wikipedia a lot to look up non-dictionary terms.  I will use the browser much more if it becomes compatible with Google Reader  In my mind, it seems like a good match.

Feel free to comment with any questions, or observations of your own.  I’d be happy to elaborate on anything, and to hear other people’s take on the new update.

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6 responses

23 04 2010
KC

I got mine loaded. It is pretty slick. I like it.

24 04 2010
3y3g00

The paper book will never die. Viva la Continuation!

28 04 2010
Katherine

The read in store function sounds pretty cool, but the main reason I got a Kindle is because I didn’t feel like going to the store/library whenever I got an urge to read. I suppose if I wanted to get a bigger excerpt than what’s available through the Kindle store to see if I wanted to buy the book, it would come in handy. That feature definitely interests me. 🙂

Sounds like the Nook is turning into a computer, rather than just an e-Reader, which is cool, I guess.

28 04 2010
astranoir

You don’t have to go anywhere in order to read or get a book :p The Nook has 3G, you just get extra stuff if you choose to go out to a brick and mortar Barnes & Noble.

I would say the Nook is very far from being a functional computer outside of an ereader. What I would be interested in seeing is a text editor app. I often want to jot down notes (unrelated to the books I’m reading), or even write something short myself, and I feel like my Nook would be a convenient place to do so.

28 04 2010
James Mowery

Hey there,

I was playing around with the Nook in my local Barnes & Noble today, and I was fairly impressed. The Web browser was slow, but it was interesting to see it added in. Seems like they are trying to build upon the platform.

I’m still on the fence about purchasing one. I mainly want to compare it between the Kindle and the Sony Digital Reader, but I don’t have either of them to actually compare it to. Plus the rumors of the Nook 2 coming out has put me off a bit.

Still, I guess we shall see.

Beyond that, how do you like it?

Oh, and you should get a Twitter account too. Friend me on there: http://twitter.com/JMowery and we can chat about books. I’m mainly into non-fiction books, but maybe there’s something we can talk about. Hehe.

Anyways, I hope you keep up with your goal to write. You are doing quite well it seems. 🙂

29 04 2010
astranoir

Since Kindles are coming to brick and mortar stores, and Sony Digital Readers are available at Target and other b&m stores, you might be able to check both out for comparison.

In general, I like the Nook a lot. It took me a bit to get used to an ereader in general. I like the increase in features, though that is not restricted to the Nook (there is an update for the Kindle coming out in May adding Facebook and Twitter functionality, I believe).

I am @astranoir on Twitter if you would like to follow me. I still don’t use the platform much, however.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

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