Sunday, May 08, 2011

Nook Color - Wave of the Future, or Techno Snob?

I guess i'm a bit of a techno-snob. Looking at others deal with life the old-fashioned way seems quaint to me now. From old-style, non-smart, cell phones, going to school in a classroom, looking at a paper map because you're lost, or digging out your tattered address book to look up a friends address or phone number. The future is the present, and all around us.

This was never more noticeable to me then when I got my Nook:Color e-reader. I wasn't sure how I would like reading a computer screen. I realize we do this all the time these days with things like computers, smart phones, and televisions, but I have always been a hold-out when it came to books.

Friends of mine have embraced reading things like programing books online as a PDF format, but for some reason I just like a paper book that I can drag into the pooper with me, or lay next to me while I program. In addition, dragging my laptop to bed to read is a bit awkward, and I am in front of a computer screen all day, it's nice to have a little break from it every now and then with a paper book.

An obvious clue to my voracious reading habits can be seen by the stacks of books on my nightstand. Of course, few are privileged enough to be invited into that fortress of solitude. Some would say they are lucky that way, others may just smile at the memories.

Those of you that know me are aware that I go on an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for a conference known as InterOp. Traditionally I have used this time of year to pick up some new technology to play with during my trip. This year, times are a bit tight, so I settled for my e-reader, a Nook:Color made by Barnes & Noble.

Weeks went by as I researched the pro's and cons of various models of e-readers from a multitude of companies. I waded through review after review from users who loved whatever machine they chose, and read all about why they liked their particular e-reader over the others.

There were numerous "flames" about some being too big, too heavy, too many features, not enough features, backlit screen giving them headaches, color vs black & white, buttons vs. touchscreen, etc… It was interesting to hear all the reasons people liked or disliked each of these variables, and after bouncing each off my own filter, headed to Best Buy for the final "fondle" test. I wanted to check the weight and screen illumination personally before I made my choice.

In the end, I went with the Nook:Color, and here's my reasoning.

If all I wanted to use it for was to crank through novels, then the Kindel might have won the day. It's lighter, thinner, and the monochrome e-ink screen is nice.

Just like in the days when the first color cell phones came out, I was drawn to the color over the old black & white screens, even though the color was a bit cheesy back in those days.

Our eyes are made to enjoy the colorful world around us. It's a part of who we are. Getting something these days that seemed to be a throw-back to the days of the LCD calculator screens just wasn't right. So color was a concern for me.

The same thought process was used for the actual screen itself. The Kindel has cheap-feeling plastic buttons, and the screen is non-interactive. I'm getting so used to touchscreen technology that it just seems strange buying something like an e-reader and not being able to interact with the screen. While using the Kindel every fiber of my being wanted to touch the dang screen to do something. It's like going into a public restroom these days and sticking your hands under the faucet only to realize, embarrassingly, that you have to touch it to get it to work. Yuk!

I really was not looking for a device that operated like a scaled down laptop, such as a netbook or ipad2, I really was looking for something about the size of a book that I could drag around with me. Something like the ipad2, although awesome, is not the form factor I was after. Besides, I have my MacBook Air for any serious computing I need to do.

This pretty much left me with the Nook:color.

Once I got the Nook I was into checking out all of its features. I was worried it would be too heavy for holding to read with, or that the horror stories of eye-strain and headaches would make me realize I made a bad mistake. The more I played with it, the more I discovered I made the best choice for me.

The backlit screen is great, and I can sit in bed and read in total darkness if I choose. And yes, I cranked through a chapter one night with all the lights off. I don't have great lighting for reading in bed, so it was fantastic not having to migrate around the bed trying to get the ceiling light out of my eyes and the pages lit well.

So far I have not read long enough to give me a headache, and I doubt I will. If you're a marathon reader, as in someone who will sit and read for hours at a time, this might be a concern for you. My reading style is more of hit and run. I whip out some chapters while waiting for my daughters to get done with whatever thing they're doing, or just before bed, so extremely long reading sessions are not my cup of tea.

One fantastic benefit of color is the magazines. Oh my! The Kindel does magazines, but in shades of grey. I find myself actually reading more of the ads because they are so vibrant and in your face. The Nook has a great feature over reading something like a webpage called, "Article View". When browsing though a magazine, instead of doing the pinch and spread maneuver for expanding what you're trying to read, you hit article view and the article is pulled off the page and brought to you in a separate reader-type pane. Very cool!

I believe magazine subscriptions are cheaper then the print variety, and so much more convenient as well. With the Nook you get to carry all of your magazines around with you! Anytime you get the urge and want to brows an issue, you have it at your fingertips. I have bought so many magazines that have got put in a stack at home and forgotten about. What a waste, this is much better.

The convenience of ordering a magazine subscription, or just getting the latest issue is great, but this same convenience is also there for the books.

I finished a great book recently and immediately went online to check if the author had written a sequel. Ta da, there it was. With a few touches of the screen it was downloaded to my device and I was reading the first chapter. I have yet to mention it, but I love the fact that the book covers can be seen in color. For some reason I think I would be bummed if I could not see the colorful book covers.

Looking for a particular thing in a book? You can search through any of your books for any word, such as a characters name, a place, or whatever you might be looking for. Not sure if I'll use this, but it's a nice feature nonetheless.

When you read a book, you never lose your place. Isn't it frustrating when something happens and you lose where you were in a book? No problem with the Nook. Every time you open it up your right where you left off.

I find myself reading a lot more then I ever have just because I now have my library with my everywhere I go. During work one day I was at another location and had to wait for our support folks to call me back. Sitting in a server room listening to the hum of equipment is not that exciting, and I did not have anything else going on at that site, so I pulled out my Nook and another couple of chapters went by.

Oops, I almost forgot about the extras!

In addition to a great e-reader the Nook has a web-browser, and is based on the Android OS. There are games and other apps you can get. I don't have the newest version of the OS loaded yet, but when I do, here comes Angry Birds on an 11" screen! LOL

What this means is that if you want, you can pause reading and switch over to check your email or play a rousing round of solitaire (I still don't know how people can play that game for hours and hours. Variety is the spice of life people!

Can you tell I like this e-reader? The final point is that you are contributing to the "green" movement in a big way. No trees need to have lost their life to support your reading habit, and less waste will end up in the local landfill from your little-read magazines. I certainly hope you don't throw your books away!

Having my reader now for a few weeks I really have not found any negatives. I am a convert to reading digitally, and this is where the snob part comes in. After embracing this new form of reading, I now look at people lugging around a hardback book as silly. I feel like telling them that there is a whole new way to read that takes up less space, and I think is more enjoyable and flexible all the way around.

If you're in the market for an e-reader, I hope this article gives you some insight into the exploration I have done and helps you make up your mind on the type of device you'd like.

Either direction you go, I highly recommend jumping into the e-reader technology. They are relatively inexpensive, yet provide a great amount of features that you will enjoy! I never thought I would shed the feel of books, but I'm in it now, and loving it!

1 comment:

  1. Just another quick note.

    I had to go to Jury Duty last week, and was sitting there all day without my Nook. This made me search for the Android Nook app by B&N.

    After downloading the app, I logged into my account and they showed all of my purchases available for me to download on my phone.

    I downloaded the current book I was reading thinking that it was going to be a pain searching for where I was in the book.

    Once it was down I opened it up and found that it opened to the exact spot I was on my Nook! Way cool. I began reading where I had left off at home without skipping a beat.

    It's always nice when a product continues to amaze me.