Nook Glow Review Part 2: Battery Life Test, GlowLight Followup, and Verdict
In a followup to my initial Nook Touch with GlowLight review, this second part of the Nook Glow review focuses on battery life when using the GlowLight and includes some additional thoughts on the light in general and my final verdict after having used the device for a few weeks.
Let’s start with the battery life tests…
The GlowLight and Battery Life
First off, testing the battery life on an ebook reader is damn near impossible since it can take several weeks to drain the battery. This test is just a basic test. I’m not going by days or full discharge cycles (that would literally take months). All I did was keep and eye on the battery percentage in the settings menu and measure that by how long I read.
So, a couple of things. I always have the GlowLight on when using the Nook, even during the day (the light makes it look better even in well-lit areas), and I always have WiFi turned off when reading. I fully charged my Nook Glow for the first time when I received it on April 26th, and I’ve charged it once since.
From my tests, using the GlowLight at about 25% drains the battery about 2 to 3 percent on average per hour. That’s not bad at all, especially since 25% or even a little less is where I like the light setting the most.
With the light at 50%, it doesn’t really seem to change the battery drain very much from the 25% setting. It still goes down about 3% per hour, sometimes as much as 4%. I imagine running the GlowLight at full blast will drain the battery by 5% per hour or so, but I find it uncomfortable to read with the light above 50% so I didn’t test for that.
Of course I’m going entirely off the Nook’s battery meter so this all depends on how accurate that is. And since this test was done on the first couple of charge cycles, actual battery drain may differ from my initial results above.
The bottom line is this is a very inexact science; I just wanted to get a general idea of the GlowLight’s affect on battery life. And from my tests it’s not too bad at all. I still managed over 2 weeks of battery life reading about 1 hour per day using the GlowLight. Even still the battery was at 21% at the end of that time, and rooting accounted for some extra drain because it was at about 50% before rooting.
B&N claims the Nook Glow’s battery can last over one month when using the GlowLight and reading for 30 minutes per day. As long as you keep WiFi off, I’d say that estimate is pretty accurate. With the light at 25% I think it could do even better than that. With the light off, battery life is about double.
Nook GlowLight Review Second Impressions/Verdict
After using the Nook GlowLight for a few weeks, I noticed something that I didn’t mention in the first review.
While I like the GlowLight, I’ve noticed the screen protector for the light can sometimes make the screen appear more grungy. The light makes imperfections more visible. Ghosting is more obvious and so are fingerprints. It’s not a big deal but you don’t notice it as much with the light off.
In the first review I talked about how the lighting isn’t perfectly uniform across the screen. It’s brighter at the very top where the LEDs are embedded. What’s weird is that B&N could have easily hid that. If you put something across the top eighth-inch of screen the bright section disappears entirely and it looks better. They should have just extended the bezel down a little or put the lights in deeper and it wouldn’t be an issue.
If you read some of the posts and MobileRead and on the Barnes and Noble Nook forums, you’ll notice conversations about the slight loss in contrast on the Nook Glow’s screen compared to the original Nook Touch. This is because of the screen protector layer that helps evenly distribute the GlowLight across the screen.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Nook Glow’s screen at all. What a lot of people are failing to realize is that with the light on the perceived contrast is actually improved over other E Ink devices because the light makes the background appear much lighter in color. Sure, the text isn’t quite as inky black, but it’s not like the text it hard to read or faded out. And like I mentioned earlier, having the light on all the time at 25% or less, even in a well-lit room, makes the screen look better because the light makes the background lighter and whiter in tone. This is illustrated quite well in some of the pictures on the Nook Glow photo gallery where the new Nook is sitting next to the old Nook.
The last thing I’ll mention in this review is that having used the Nook Glow un-rooted for two weeks, it made me realize that the original Nook Touch shouldn’t be the number 1 pick on my Best eBook Readers post anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, the Nook is a nice ebook reader and I especially like the GlowLight Nook, but it is fairly limited in functionality unless rooted, which opens it up to install Android apps, including other ereading apps like Kindle and Kobo. B&N hasn’t added any new features to the software in over a year. PDF support is still awful, the bookshelves for organizing content could be better, there aren’t really any advanced features to speak of, there’s no landscape mode, and you can’t even delete sideloaded ebooks without plugging it into a computer. B&N is pretty much resting on their laurels instead of making it better.
Meanwhile, Amazon has updated the Kindle Touch several times since its release to add new features, including landscape mode. It has a web browser, better PDF support, text-to-speech, audio support, Kindle apps, and other advanced features. Aside from the built-in GlowLight, the Kindle Touch has passed the Nook Touch by miles. The Sony PRS-T1 is a lot more advanced as well, and so is the Kobo Touch. That’s why a lot of people feel compelled to root their Nook to get more out of it.
All that being said, I still really like the Nook Glow and think the GlowLight is a killer feature. But B&N is going to quickly lose that edge once other companies start adding front lights to their ereaders too, and Amazon is already rumored to launch a Lighted Kindle Touch in July.