Thursday, December 10, 2009

Follow-up to the David Pogue review - Nook-Kindle

This is a follow-up because Nook-interested are very unhappy with David Pogue's review, and he replies to some of it.

Also, the video he made to go with his review is clear that besides the navigational and lag diffculties that frustrated him, the marketing of features by Barnes and Noble was misleading, and the video makes sport of the "fine print" that was never mentioned (with the help of a Nook Footnotes guy - hilarious concept).

 Most of his frustration would come from having used another ereader that does not have the many steps and long-waits reported and which are seeable in video examples on many review sites on the net, even from one site whose review was positive (which has been a rare thing this week).

 The Public Library loan ability was, strangely, not marketed by B&N, and B&N did not confirm that capability this week when asked, but it does work (perhaps inadvertently?) because the Nook does come with Adobe Digital Edition DRM reading capability), and this feature is a real boon for Nook users.

 If Nook fixes the many problems, too many of them caused by basic design decisions causing many steps to get anything done (font changes, book-formatting upon re-opening, the many steps to get searches done and then the one-word at a time search results, which those with e-reader experience will find frustrating), then there will be even more interested in buying.

That B&N kept calling it "The most advanced" e-reader, due to having WiFi capability that is ultra-limited (access to B&N store), was odd when a "less-advanced then" e-reader gives 24/7 free access to the web and does read-to-me for those who can use it when in a rush, even on articles and personal/business documents, and offers well acted Audible books -- that was what was worthy of the treatment given in the video, in the eyes of those not happy with the half-truths in the advertising.  Fine print restrictions that are not given exposure will upset some people.

From the Comments section to the article:
Here are some letters to David Pogue and his responses to some of them.

Sam wrote: "3 seconds to turn a page? that's ridiculous, and if it was what you experienced, you have a defective model."

You can see the 3-second page turn in my video, side-by-side with the 1-second Kindle. Do I have a defective model? Barnes & Noble doesn't think so --the company hasn't challenged that result.

- regarding your faulty price comparison between Amazon and Barnes & Noble -- To use an outdated comparison like this is simply bad journalism. 5 minutes on the Barnes & Noble discussion boards would have clued you into the price drops.

The data is a month old. That's not bad journalism. I also hand-inspected the 175 NY Times bestsellers, and the proportion of cheaper Kindle books-to-Nook books is still there. Amazon is cheaper almost 100% of the time that there's a price difference.

- 'audible audio-book playback'? nook plays mp3 files as well, so I'm not seeing the advantage.'

Then you're obviously not an Audible audio-book subscriber! They're fantastic.

[Khurt wrote:] "The software update that fixes all those bugs will be out before the Nook is available to buyers."

Not quite. The first software update, next week, fixes a small number of the most egregious bugs:

1) reduces the interval that the "FORMATTING" message is on the screen every time you open a book (but does not eliminate it).

2)Eliminates the SECOND tap required to open a book after your initial tap.

3) Fixes the bug that takes you to the Home screen when you tap the Down button.

They still have a LONGGGGG way to go after that!

Just got my own Nook and have seen very few of the problems David Pogue has described. I already own a Sony Reader and have found on my Nook that page turns are no slower than the Sony Reader. I have had 5 books download very quickly and I have not had the same formatting issue. I have found the touchscreen strip to be somewhat unresponsive, but so is my iPhone, occasionally. And isn't generally available WiFi better than none? Maybe BN was quick to the draw, but so is a two day long review. You couldn't give it a week?

I had the Nook for 6 days, same as all other reviewers.

The free google books were even slower, needing 30 seoconds of extra "formatting" before displaying, and left stange [sic] mangled artifacts on the screen.
[ No response to this one but I found it worth quoting. ]

No mention of the update B&N already pushed out Monday afternoon to address some of the early issues with formatting time and responsiveness?...
Was this written last week and you never bothered to follow-up with B&N at all this week?"

I was in constant contact with Barnes & Noble, up to, and even after, the review was published.

The other factor that you failed to mention (surprisingly, given your appreciation of the iPhone aesthetic advantages over its competitors) is that the Nook is *so* much better looking than the Kindle. I actually don't feel there's much between the Nook and the Kindle in terms of the primary capabilities - call me shallow, but the good looks of the Nook mean that its the one I want to take to bed with me!

[No response but I found it worth quoting.  I have always noticed that the looks were key here.]

Okay, so I went back to B and N today to check it out again. Three devices all freezing up, dying, and not working properly. THe pages flipped fine, but the rest of the device was bunk. Furthermore, B and N had a nervous girl who KNEW these things were not working right trying to sell them...I hope they pay her well, because there was a legion of confused potential customers disappointed in the device. Oh well, this review was harsh. In a world of dying newspapers, I think nytimes should be behind an e-reader movement to increase circulation and hopefully develop a new revenue stream.
[ Worth quoting as the writer preferred a softer review. ]

David, I got my Nook last night. It is a nice piece of hardware with some flaws in the software that should not be a deal-breaker for many folks. (I timed my page-turning whilst reading a book--less than one second.) I am happy with my Nook. I suggest that potential buyers try out a demo at the local B&N, if possible, and judge for themselves. It's not as bad as your snide article suggests, but it's not the Second Coming, either.
[ Worth quoting as a view from a customer with less expectations. Many will not care about the tougher navigation if they've not used another, good, e-reader in the past -- and the Nook has its attractions. ] Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. Did anybody even understand this post? Run-on clause upon run-on clause. Please learn to use shorter, more concise sentences.

  2. David, I read your review after having a Nook for 6 days ending today Feb. 13. After the first day a software update arrived. Even with the latest version my experiences have replicated almost everything you wrote and I can add more. MP3 music will currently not play--I had technical support on the phone 3 times and at least one honest person admitted that the software update had a glitch that they knew was unacceptable. Downloading audio books is a nightmare of extra steps compared to Audible and the PC interface is primitive compared to Audible Manager. Unless you purchase from B & N, you have to sideload your e-books and they appear in your list of documents in no particular order. Among the list are duplicate titles of documents. Nook has no way to delete them. When connected by USB--the duplications were do not appear, so you can't delete them remotely either. Technical assistance did help me make the duplicates appear in gray type instead of black though! Audiobooks purchased through B & N timed out during downloading. After three attempts, I exceeded my limit and had to call for resets. When that happens at Audible it takes one phone call of no more than 5 minutes. At B & N is was routinely a 25-35 minute wait on hold to go to digital support just to get a reset. I could only get the download to work if I stayed up after midnight. Although the audio book played just fine, it did not show up on the as a document when using My Computer on the PC to explore its contents. It was however displayed in the Nook's Audio Player. This meant a series of connections, disconnectons, checking the device to see if a file actually worked as they was no way to check the success of the transfer from the PC. Syncing through Windows Media Player installed its own file structure even when transferring MP3s that the Nook wouldn't play. However, none of this compares to the nightmare of trying to return the Nook after 6 days of ownership and 3 calls to technical assistance. You cannot get an instant return number, you must wait 72 hours. If you used a credit card through PayPal, you can only get a refund to your PayPal account and it will take 3 billing cycles to appear. You will pay a 10% restocking fee even when the device is not functioning as advertised. Assessories may or may not be refundable. You must wait some unspecified period for the Supervisor to be in touch by e-mail. You could not get a case number for your technical support requests to document your problems. I was told "we don't do that." I strongly agree with David about all the undisclosed fine print and consumer traps--I so enjoyed being charged 88 cents on my credit card to get a "free" book. There's more, when I called Customer Service to ask that the 88 cent charge be removed, after a 25 minute wait they got on the line to tell me that they stood by their "all sales final" policy. I can verify that an 88 cents charge posted to my credit card account. In summary, the device is great for reading e-books if you have never read them on a touch screen device. Audio books sound fine if you haven't revisited the download process since about 9 years ago when Audible first started--the Nook replicates all the early problems that Audible has already fixed over years of refinement. Lastly, as a model for customer service and technical support, Barnes and Noble sets a new low bar.

  3. mpk,
    Wow, no paragraph breaks -- hard to read, but your points are interesting.

    However, this is not the place to write David Pogue as I was just reporting on his review.

    Go to his area on the New York Times. Try this comment area first:

    Good luck!

    - Andrys


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