Friday, December 11, 2009

My visit to BN and the Nook last night & more videos - Updated

Driving past Barnes and Noble last night, 1/2 hour before they closed, I thought it might be good to drop in and actually see the Nook function, in person, instead of via videos.   They had it at the customer help booth, which is fairly large and had two Nooks, both chained to their posts.
Both had clear plastic over the entire face of the Nook to protect it.

To my eyes, the Nook has a beautiful exterior design, more striking in person than in photographs, and the screensaver of the San Francisco bridge shown was gorgeous and much more welcoming than the forlorn-looking author pictures we're used to.  I asked if I could open a book, explaining that I had read reviews about the formatting time, and also see page turns for myself to see if any slowness was that bothersome.

Both staffers told me it was not possible to open a book because the store is only having 'demo' Nooks and they don't allow downloads, and to open a book you must download it first.  What?!  I tried to explain they can download it and it will be on the unit and not have to be downloaded again!   They said, no, it wasn't allowed, as the management erases stuff on it each night and they don't want children [or children-like?] people downloading away on it -- so they didn't have a book to open on it, because of the no-download policy (!)

I then explained this would look very strange because reviews are saying it's too slow to open a book and that page turns take an inordinately long time -- people will wonder if that's why they're not allowing customers to even open a book on it.

After awhile, when a couple also really wanted to see this, one of them agreed to download a book.  Then I saw it was a sample!  I explained that was not a good test of load times :-)  They were very pleasant and said I should probably come back in the morning because the day crew knows more about the Nook, so that's what I'll do.

In the meantime, Barnes and Noble has a problem (as seen on the forums when people have asked questions at the stores and received quite inaccurate info) in that their general customer service in-store will not be as trained on the Nook as official customer service people specifically trained on an e-reader (and even the latter is not wholly dependable or course).  I heard a staffer tell a questioner that yes, she could buy and download books from B&N while traveling in Europe.  But B&N staff online have explained why this is not possible for the Nook and they hope to have publisher agreements to be able to do that someday.

In the meantime, I must say that if I didn't already have a couple of good e-readers I would have bought it on the spot!  It's very attractive, and all the menu steps and delays (an added 30 seconds for a Google book he opened, one Nook owner said) would not bother me if I weren't now used to more direct opens (which I appreciate even more these days), searches (w/excellent search-result displays - see sample below), and faster page turns.

  It's my feeling that people new to e-readers could be very happy with the Nook, as it has a very friendly feel to it, and the screen text to background contrast ratio is decidedly better than the Kindle 2's, with the background lighter and the text fatter and therefore darker.

  I also liked the Nook immediately more than the Sony readers I've seen.  The Sony Pocket reader is 'only' $200 and fits into a pocket nicely, so a lot of men prefer it even if it does not have an inline-dictionary, any search capability, annotations, or wireless features.
  It just lets you read and is very compact.  But I think they'll need to bring that one down to $150 and then I might get one, just for reading ePub formats (instead of doing auto-conversions on them as I do now), especially with the Adobe Digital Edition in place, with library capabilities, even if its screen is slightly smaller.  On the other hand, I am spoiled by having search capabilities and dictionary summary defnitions at the bottom, of a word my cursor is on, so am not sure about that but I'd be tempted.
 See a recent review by Huffington Post's Stephanie Vaughn Hapke, aka GeekGirl, who is doing a series on various e-readers, with an unusual sense of fairness.

  With regard to how the Nook functions and how troubling any delays or navigational steps might be, here's a very good video for seeing what's involved for various functions posted by Matt Miller of ZDNet who does only glowing reviews of the Nook - he is enchanted by it, focusing on the positives (the glass half-full thing maybe?)  His video is 25 minutes, as he shows how various features work. The good and the bad are there for you to see, so it's helpful.

  Miller's video does show that when he opens up The Lost Symbol, it takes from 16:36 on the tape to 17:02, which is 26 seconds, and he sort of chirps through it, unfazed by the delay.  I think many other people would not be bothered by it either (though I would).
  At about 20:00, he shows how to do a search.  However, there is no result and only a blank page for "ritualistic" -- dictionaries sometimes show only the root word, 'ritual' so it's not really surprising.  Still, while the Kindle dictionary doesn't have that word either, the Kindle takes you, after listing books that have a search-result, not to a blank page, but to the dictionary page that starts with "ritualism' and has 'ritualization' and 'ritualize' also.

Consumer Reports also has a very brief video focusing on page turns.

Wired has a quite balanced video report with more real-time page-turns. - This 11 minute video of a first look at the Nook is done by a very cheerful and thorough hobbyist reviewer.  Starting at time 2:50 Chris Leckness demos the color touchscreen at the bottom, and with unusual patience he shows us a disquietingly unresponsive touchscreen for up/down scrolling especially (that part is painful to watch), and for pressing/clicking on a selection (which can take several attempts).

BARNES & NOBLE "Getting to know your nook" web page
  Here's a very helpful page by Barnes and Noble with information on what to do when encountering oddities reported.  Example: If books downloaded don't show up, "go to My Library and tap the Check for New B&N Content.
  UPDATE 12/18/09 - 11:37 PM (The original page was removed with no forwarding link, but I found the new URL for this Nook help webpage, linked above.  (But, why must the font be a gray, faint one?  One can guess.)

Also see
1. Follow up to David Pogue's NYT review - Q&A
        Collected feedback to the review, with David Pogue's responses
2. Combined reviews - early & newer
3. Newer reviews, and Nook gets public library books
4. Early reviews
5. Nook-Kindle comparison info
6. Nook User Guide online Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. Nice summary of the Nook, and thank you for the mention...

  2. Stephanie,
    Thanks! and that mention was to make sure more people would know about the new series in the HuffPo and the thought that goes into the column. I love the name of the series too :-)
    HuffPo does already tend to have an outrageously huge audience though :-)

  3. I also stopped in at B&N to get a "hands on" of the Nook (I have a Kindle2) as I've been touting the Kindle over the Nook. Not impressed with the visual/handling of the Nook over the Kindle. The color touch screen is interesting but did notice a certain slowness in response. However, the staff did download a "free" book (a sample?) and it was about like the Kindle speed. Page turning look like a page of a book was flipping over when the page-turn button was pressed--think the Kindle "page turning" is a little quicker. I prefer my Kindle over the Nook if for no other reason than the Kindle's "read to speak" feature which is not available on the Nook.

  4. Hi, Harvey -
    There are now several gadget-site videos, including one by Consumer Reports, that show the Nook taking noticeably longer for page turns than the Kindle 2. And the 25-minute video guide by pro-Nook Matt Miller shows it takes about half a minute for his Nook to open The Lost Symbol book.

    Agree re the text-to-speech feature. For me, the now-quicker web access to text-focused websites is key, but so is the better programming for simple things like dictionary look-up and Search function.

  5. RE: My previous post touting the text-to-speak feature on the Kindle2; however, forgot to express a major "goodness" utilization of TTS, which I believe is using TTS for young children learning to read...they can follow along on the text as it is being read to them; that's a significant stand-alone utilization that parents can use to great advantage!

  6. That is a really good point, Harvey.

    Also, someone pointed out it's good for someone from another country needing to learn English, though that could bring some funny results from listening to 'Tom.' :-)

    Thanks for the tip.

  7. To NinaLaZina
    I inadvertently deleted your note but you asked if the Kindle is available in the UK, and it is.

    See Kindle International page for Amazon's info on that.
    Click on the pull-down menu to see the info for the various countries.

  8. thanks. but have not been able tp find it apart from online.

  9. ok. no problems- followed your link and got information



  10. NinaLaZina,
    Sorry, didn't realize you meant finding it in a store. The Amazon is sold only online, even in the U.S. Less expense probably.

    For that reason, I guess, they have a 30-day return policy, meaning you can return it within 30 days of shipping date if you don't like it.

    Good luck on your decision re any ereader though! There are a lot available these days.


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