Nook Simple Touch Review

Overview

The Nook Simple Touch is one of the newest readers (as of 2011) released to the market by global bookstore Barnes and Noble. This model replaces the older style Nook (read our original Nook review).

Barns and Noble, besides being a giant book chain, are now well known for producing high quality, value for money readers to the market with a Wi-Fi and Color reader also available to consumers. The Nook Simple Touch is retailing at $139, around the same value as the popular Kindle range, with an eInk touch screen display the Nook Simple Touch is mainly designed with the purpose of reading in mind.

nook simple touch

Hardware and Feature

The Nook Simple Touch features an easy to use touch screen interface that allows the user to navigate around the device with great ease, changing pages with a swipe of the screen. The display is 6” and features the latest eInk technology giving the reader the ability to read in direct sunlight. Due to the fact the eInk screen works on contrast rather than a backlight the user can easily read for a long period of time without straining their eyes.

The weight of the Nook is a major feature, being one of the lightest e-readers on the market, weighing in at only 7.48 ounces the Nook is lighter than some paper books and is fairly thin meaning the user can easily transport the device around with them as they would a real book, perfect for travelling and day to day use.

The Nook Simple Touch quotes an impressive battery life of up to two months without wireless connections meaning that the device is very reliable and the user will not have to constantly be charging the reader. The battery life is significantly less when the wireless features on the device are activated however the battery life is still impressive, particularly in comparison to many other electrical devices on the market.

With over 2 million book titles available on the Barnes and Noble store the Nook Simple Touch has great support in terms of where to buy books as a majority of titles that users will be looking for are available all in one place in the correct format to be shown on the reader. The Nook Simple Touch also includes the feature allowing users to borrow books from their local library, mimicking the experience of a real book further, also cutting costs by allowing users to be able to read books on the device without purchasing them.

The on screen keyboard is also a great feature that allows the user to easily search the devices library for a book or even the online store, making the overall ease of use much better.

Technical Specifications

Dimensions: (H x W x D) 6.5” x 5.0” x 0.47”, Weight 7.48 ounces – As can be seen from the dimensions of the Nook Simple Touch the device is fairly compact and light making the reader easily transportable and perfect for users who are travelling a lot or may just be carrying the reader around with them every day.

Battery Life: Up to 2 months, Installed rechargeable battery, 3 hours charge time from mains outlet – The battery life is very strong on the Nook Simple Touch and with wireless connectivity disabled the reader can last for up to 2 months off a single 3 hour charge. Impressive, the battery life is reported to be around 2 weeks with the wireless connections enabled on the device.

Screen Quality: 6” eInk pearl screen, 16 level grey scale – The eInk pearl technology used as a display allows the reader to be read just like a paper book, working on contrast rather than lighting there is no strain to the users eyes and no glare in direct sunlight meaning the reader can be viewed outdoors.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi connectivity, 802.11 b/g/n – The device has built in Wi-Fi which allows the user to connect to the internet wherever there is a Wi-Fi connection, allowing the user to download books straight on to the reader, eliminating the need for a computer when gaining content on the device, useful for those travelling or those who do not regularly use a computer.

Memory: 2GB internal memory, SD card slot (expandable up to 32GB) - The in-built memory on the device allows the user to store around 1000 books on the device however a lot of this memory is limited specifically to purchases from Barnes and Noble themselves, with the expandable memory the user should not run out of memory, allowing the device to carry the whole of the users library.

Supported Formats: PDF, ePUB, JPG, GIF, PNG and BMP – As can be seen by the supported files the Nook Simple Touch only has support for documents and graphics and is therefore specifically a reader rather than having multi-media features, the support of PDF and EPUB means that the majority of eBooks can be supported by the Nook.

What's in the Box?

nook simple touch box

The Nook Simple Touch comes packaged in as simple cardboard box featuring a graphic of the reader on the front of the box. The box is split into two compartments with the bottom compartment featuring the accessories that come with the reader. This is opened to reveal the AC adaptor, allowing the reader to be charged from the mains and the USB 2.0 cable that allows the reader to be connected to a computer.

Opening the other compartment at the top of the box reveals the reader itself, this is removed and the quick start guide is kept underneath the reader. First impressions of the reader are that it is a nice compact device, light, portable and aesthetically pleasing. The Nook looks great, modern and simplistic; the device also feels well-built and with the quick start guide the user can be up and running with the device almost immediately.

Connectivity 

The PC software that is available for the Nook Simple Touch is a nice piece of software; it can easily be downloaded from the Barnes and Noble website and allows the user to easily manage their device when it is connected to a computer. The software is simple and has a user friendly interface which makes sorting the device a pleasurable experience and is far superior to many other readers on the market which simply connect to the computer like a USB and work on the principal of dragging and dropping files.

The Nook Simple Touch also contains the ability for wireless connectivity which is via a Wi-Fi connection. There is no option for 3G connections on the Nook, this is not too important however as there are many hotspots around so if the user is desperate for connectivity whilst out and about it is possible. This is a great feature on the reader as it allows the user to easily download books on the device without the need for a computer; the on screen QWERTY keyboard also makes it easy for the user to browse the online Barnes and Noble store.

Supported File Formats

The list of supported formats on the Nook Simple Touch isn’t that large however it is clear that the Nook is clearly designed for displaying document files as a reader rather than media files. The technical specifications list the supported formats as PDF, EPUB, JPG, GIF, BMP and PNG. As these show the Nook Simple Touch can only display document and graphic files. Although there isn’t a wide range of supported formats the formats that the Nook caters too are well developed.

The PDF files display well on the Nook Simple Touch with the ability to zoom in and so on. Not only this but the EPUB files that are supported on the device allow the user to change the font size and typeface making the user able to personalise their reading experience, which is always a benefit as it can increase the ease of read on the device.

Memory

The memory on the Nook Simple Touch is more than enough space to store the document and image files that the reader supports. The major downside to the memory on the Nook Simple Touch is that as with any Barnes and Noble device the memory is partitioned so that only a third of the internal memory is available for the user to store purchases made from any origin other than Barnes and Noble, this can particularly be a problem for users who have previously had a different reader and therefore a whole library established that they cannot transfer on to the device as the memory is limited to Barnes and Noble purchases only.

This is not too much of a problem as the Nook Simple Touch includes a micro SD card so that the user can expand the memory up to 32GB which is not limited by Barnes and Noble at all. Even though it is not a problem it does seem to rub users up the wrong way as it seems like Barnes and Noble are trying to control their consumers habits

Battery Life

The battery life on the Nook Simple Touch is one of its best features with the device being able to last up to 2 months off one 3 hour charge; this makes the reader reliable and also saves users the pain of having to charge the device all the time. The battery life is significantly less when the wireless capabilities on the device are enabled as these consume a lot of power. The general consensus is that with the Wi-Fi enabled the devices battery life is around two weeks.

Screen Quality

The Nook Simple Touch features the newest eInk technology with a 6 inch eInk pearl display, featuring 16 shade grey scale and a higher contrast than seen in the earlier displays. The main benefits of the eInk screen are the fact that it works on the principal of contrast rather than being backlit which means that the user won’t experience any strain on the eyes when they are reading for a long period of time. Not only this but there is no glare on the display so the reader can read in a variety of situations including direct sunlight.

The eInk screen also gives the reader the ability to have such a long battery life as the display will only consume battery every time a page is refreshed which means no matter how long the user spends on each page the reader will still use the same amount of battery, a major benefit. Although due to the screens lack of backlight the reader cannot be used in the dark, this is easily solved by purchasing the lights that are designed for eInk readers and simply click on to the edge of the reader and illuminate the screen so that the display is visible in the dark.

The eInk pearl is the same screen used on many other eInk readers within the market and in terms of eInk readers the screen on the Nook Simple Touch is top of the range. The display is also touch screen which is responsive and easy to use, definitely an advantage for the user.

Build Quality and Design

nook simple touch body

The design on the device is fairly well thought out, with the ergonomics of the design being very effective. Barnes and Noble have taken into consideration the touch screen interface and have left a thick ledge all around the display of the device which gives the user a good amount of space to hold on to when using the device meaning they do not accidently change pages whilst they are reading from the device.

The quality of the device is good and when holding the device it feels strong and well-built. The Nook Simple touch is made from a sturdy plastic which feels solid and supportive and is not going to break; this keeps the weight of the device down also. In terms of aesthetics the device is simple and modern and is very attractive. The Nook Simple Touch is only available in the black color however this looks smart and is very versatile suiting all age and sex groups. Cases can also be purchased for the Nook Simple Touch which allows the user to personalise the device, these can be found on the Barnes and Noble store where they have a vast range of accessories for the reader.

Nook Simple Touch vs. Other Readers

Nook Simple Touch vs. Nook Color

nook color vs nook simple touch

The Nook Simple Touch is not the only reader on the market to be released by Barnes and Noble, so how does the Simple Touch measure up to its siblings and what are the main differences between the readers? Barnes and Noble currently have the Nook Simple Touch selling alongside the Nook Color, there are some similarities between the devices but they are fairly different from each other in terms of features.

The Nook Color (read our Nook Color review) is much more expensive than the Simple Touch, retailing at $139 the Simple Touch reader is $110 less than the Nook Color which is retailing at $149. The main difference between the two devices is the display that the feature with the Nook Color having a color screen as the name suggests. The Nook Color incorporates a VividView Color touchscreen in comparison to the Nook Simple Touch having an eInk pearl display. The screen sizes are only slightly different with the Nook color being an inch larger than the Nook Simple Touch in diagonal measurements.

The different screens have different properties and therefore it is more down to how the user plans on using the device as to which will be more suited to them.  The Color screen allows documents such as magazines and children’s books which need color to be displayed effectively due to the color screen, with Barnes and Noble releasing the Kids book range in conjunction with the Nook Color. The downsides of the color screen are that the user will experience strain to their eyes if they are reading from the device for a long period of time, therefore the Nook Color is not very effective for users who plan to read novels on the device, the eInk display on the Simple Touch is better for novels with the screen being readable in direct sunlight and the lack of backlight meaning no strain on the users eyes and prolonged battery life.

In terms of text options the Nook Simple Touch has one more size with 7 text sizes and 6 text styles compared with the Nook Colors 6 different text sizes. This is not a vast difference but also fits in with the fact that the Nook Simple Touch is more centred on the sole purpose of reading.

Bot of the devices have Wi-Fi connectivity in built however the Nook Simple Touch has a slight upper hand due to the fact there is the use of free Wi-Fi hotspots by AT&T, the Nook Color does not have free access and therefore the Nook Simple Touch is slightly more mobile, however they both have the ability to download devices straight to the device without the need for a computer.

The memory on the Nook Color is much stronger than the memory seen on the Nook Simple Touch with a massive 8GB as oppose to the internal 2GB on the Simple Touch. Both of the devices have a micro SD card slot and therefor the user can easily expand the memory on their device up to 32GB, the overall storage on the Nook Color is 40GB as oppose to 34GB on the Nook Simple Touch.

The area where the Nook Color really takes the upper hand is in terms of media and this is simply due to the color screen allowing the user to run a range of features such as applications and web browsing. Although both of the devices have Wi-Fi connectivity and can access the internet the Nook Color is the only one out of the two to have a built in web browser allowing the user to browse the web on the device, a nice feature, which works well due to the color display.

There are also a lot of gimmicks on the Nook Color which the Simple Touch reader doesn’t have, although they are not necessities they are nice to have on the device, these include, crossword puzzles, pre-loaded games such as chess and Sudoku, Nook email and also the ability to download applications from the Nook store. The supported formats on the Nook allow this, particularly as the device is equipped to support sound unlike the Nook Simple Touch. This means that not only can the user playback audio whilst they are reading but it also allows features to be incorporated into the device such as audio books and text to speech.

Overall both the Nook Color and the Nook Simple Touch are good readers the main differences with them will only be significant depending on how the user is planning on operating the device. For simply reading the Nook Simple Touch is a much stronger candidate with the hardware supporting novels much more than the Nook Color does. If children’s books and applications are ideal for the user then the Nook Color will be the better option therefore this is what needs to be decided before buying either of the devices.

Nook Simple Touch vs Kindle 3

nook simple touch vs kindle 3

The Nook Simple Touch has one competitor which stands out much more than others on the market. The Kindle 3 is produced by the online company called Amazon and is the third generation in the Kindle range, which have been extremely successful in the market ever since their release. The Kindle 3 has some very similar properties to the Nook Simple Touch which means it is very close call as to which is the superior reader.

The Wi-Fi on the Kindle 3 is well known for being the best it can be with Amazon including wireless connectivity in their very first device. The Kindle 3 offers the option for the users to purchase a 3G model as oppose to the Wi-Fi only model, therefore if internet on the go is important then the Kindle has a slight advantage over the Nook Simple Touch which does not offer 3G connectivity. In terms of speed the Kindle 3 is slightly faster than the Simple Touch at downloading files however the difference is not that vast. The Kindle 3 also has a built in web browser meaning that the internet can be used for browsing the web whereas on the Nook Simple Touch connectivity is included purely for downloading files on to the device.

The main difference between the Kindle 3 and the Nook Simple Touch is the user interface with the Kindle traditionally including a QWERTY keypad as oppose to a touch screen interface. This may be a personal preference however the touch screen on interface on the Nook Simple Touch has been highly praised although the Kindle 3 is also easy to navigate.

The main let down for the Kindle 3 in comparison to the Nook Simple touch is the storage on the device. The internal memory on both of the devices is 2GB which allows the user to store around 1000 books. The one problem with the Kindle 3 is that unlike the Nook Simple Touch there is no micro SD card and therefore 2GB is the total capacity of the device as there is no option for the user to expand the memory and therefore a much larger library can be stored on the Nook.

This also limits the usability of the MP3 player installed into the Kindle 3. It is a benefit that the Kindle supports audio as the Nook has no option for this and it is now a very common feature in reading devices. The 2GB memory on the Kindle will be filled extremely easy if both documents and music are being stored on the device as audio files tend to be fairly large, therefore the MP3 player is not as usable as it is on some other devices simply due to the fact there is not enough room to accommodate audio files.

With the exception of audio support the Kindle 3 is also focused on supporting documents however it adopts the MOBI format in favour of the EPUB which is seen on the Nook Simple Touch. The MOBI format is the format found on the Amazon store and this is why the Kindle has chosen to support it. This is fine if all the titles the reader desires are on the Amazon site, which is fairly realistic as they do have an expansive range however the EPUB file tends to be much more popular. This can be solved with the use of a format converter however which can be downloaded at no charge over the internet.

The two readers are similar however the Nook Simple touch has a few more options in terms of personalising reading, for example the Kindle does not have the option for a font change whereas the Nook does. The screens are the same on both devices and therefore it may be down to the preference between a touch screen interface or a button interface. The Nook is more compact than the Kindle as there is no need to accommodate a QWERTY keypad therefore if portability is important the Nook may be a better option.

The Good

The Nook Simple Touch has many benefits, the main being the battery life, this is one of the advantages of opting for an eInk display rather than a color screen as it really increases battery life on the device making the reader a lot more reliable and convenient for the user. Another advantage of the Nook Simple Touch is its partnership with Barnes and Noble who are a very large and established bookstore, this means that the users of the Nook Simple Touch have instant access to over 2 million titles that can easily be accessed and downloaded straight to the device due to the inclusion of Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Bad

There are some downsides to the Nook Simple Touch however they are not to do with the actual device. One of the downsides is that the reader does not support music or any other media files however this isn’t a massive problem as the reader is designed specifically for reading and therefore the user should not expect this from the device. Another complaint for the Nook Simple Touch is the fact that Barnes and Noble partition the memory, this is more of an annoyance at the manufacturers rather than the device as there is the option to buy a memory card and bypass the restrictions on what content is stored on the device however this is obviously extra hardship for the user and can mean the device takes slightly longer to get the reader up and running.

The Bottom Line

The Nook Simple Touch is a brilliant reading device, the guys at Barnes and Noble have worked really hard to make sure the Simple Touch provides the reader with a great experience overall. The hardware is suited to its purpose specifically the eInk screen which is perfect for a reading device as it replicates real paper and is the same as reading a book. Therefore scenario’s such as reading a book on a beach on holiday can easily be replicated in the device which is the most important thing. The lack of strain on the eyes is also another important feature as it prevents user’s eyesight from being damaged.

At the retail price of $139 the Nook Simple Touch is a great device and is very good value for money with the device doing everything that is needed from it and providing the user with a range of features that make reading from the device as simple and convenient as reading from a book. If the user wants media features on the device then another device such as the Nook Color would be more suited as it is designed with this in mind however for reading the Nook Simple Touch has all the features needed to make a pleasurable reading experience.

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