One Year with the Nook

Now that I have one year with the Nook, my eReader, I'd like to report to you my findings. Especially after I said I'd never own an eReader.

The strongest argument is the increased portability. You can't deny the efficiency factor when I've read forty-six books in 2012, compared to twenty-four in 2011. Plus I can read them online at work. I can carry them in the car. I don't have to wait to get to the bookstore or library to get the next one. And I don't have to be embarrassed about a mass market paperback bulging out of my back pocket with this on the cover.

Winner of this year's cover most likely to humiliate the reader if someone asks "what are you reading?"

I love being able to look up a word that I don't understand in the native dictionary. I find myself trying to click on paper books to do the same. And if I get really lost (like in "The Casual Vacancy" with so many characters) I can find a guide online and switch between that and the book.

My eyesight's not being torn apart by staring at a screen. And in fact, I like it better. It means I can read in the dark without a battery-eating book light. Sunset car rides aren't my enemy anymore.

Hazardous areas? Not an issue, at least for me. I rarely go anywhere hazardous.  I think I've taken it into the bath once, and I was super careful with it. I've dropped it a bunch of times and it seems to be working fine.

Now onto bad things. I do not like the interface -- there's more white space than needed. It is not friendly to side-loaded books. Titles are always super-truncated and thumbnails are hard to get to show up.  Plus that default gray one is hideous.

The hardware is sloppy, nowhere near the finesse of an iPod/iPad. Startup takes a while.  It takes longer to load a book, even one that's pure text, than it should. So doing anything with the interface (menus, selections, file browsing) is an exercise in frustration.

And children's books? I've had more problems with those than ever. My kids love reading from the Nook (who knows why -- the pictures are smaller, the text harder to read), but the text has trouble lining up with the image and they get distracted with the "activities" (these are all ePub books BTW).

I'm not sure if it's the hardware or software, but I am frequently having to restart it because it locks up, a book doesn't load properly, or the memory card goes wonky. Oh, that damn memory card. I'm afraid to turn off my Nook now because every time I do, I'm afraid the memory card won't be recognized or corrupted and have to be reformatted. Because it's happened so many times already.

Even if I didn't, the battery doesn't last as long as I think it should. Not for an eReader. Not compared to my wife's Nook Simple Touch (which, I think she's only charged a handful of times in a year).

I've had a lot of trouble getting it to connect to my computer -- every time my comp asks to scan the device because it thinks something's wrong. And half the time, it won't recognize that I plugged it in. Nook needs some kind of iTunes book management system. Right now, I'm using Calibre, and I'm quite pleased with it. The only thing its missing is the native ability to do Nook things, like add movies, apps, etc.

I know I said no movies, no music, no animation but I find myself using the Nook for other things besides reading. For example, watching videos while I work out -- Netflix, YouTube, and downloaded videos. I keep track of my workouts on a notepad app.

But it's slow, it's buggy. The Nook is really not meant for being a multimedia machine. It's meant to be an eReader for books you buy from Barnes & Noble. Anything else is peripheral, thrown in to add apparent value to the consumer.

I think that means that I'd rather have a tablet. My iPod is fine for portable games, email/twitter checking.  It's too small for reading and viewing, especially not for a treadmill. I'm not sure what kind of tablet I'd want -- large or small, Apple or Google or other. But my next upgrade won't be to a new Nook.

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