Nook Glow Review Part 2: Battery Life Test, GlowLight Followup, and Verdict

Nook Touch with GlowLight

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.

6 Responses to “Nook Glow Review Part 2: Battery Life Test, GlowLight Followup, and Verdict”

  1. As you said, you must connect to the computer to delete sideloaded books–that is ridiculous and treats them as invasive species. With the Kindle, there is no need to connect to a computer to delete your own sideloaded books and all books can be put in the same collections. The Nook does not have a browser that connects to other websites; one must connect to a computer to sideload free books. The Kindle has a browser and allows one to download free books direct from Project Gutenberg and many other websites. In addition, Amazon has provided a program that you install on your computer “Send to Kindle” that allows you to right click on a supported file/books and just sent it direct to the Kindle for Free. If one has the auxiliary charger, there are only rare instances, to manually install updates, when a computer is needed.

    The Nook brags that that there is no advertising like the Kindle. Yet the books they recommend you buy is indeed advertising and takes up substantial more space on the home screen than the Kindle.

    I want to buy an ereader and have it work out of the box and give me the best tools for the reason I purchase an ereader-to read. I have no desire to spend time rooting a device to get functionality. The Kindle is a much better ereader than the Nook.

    I agree with your assessment that the Nook is going to be more of a loser device when the Kindle comes out with a lighted screen.

  2. The best thing the Nook Touch has going for it is its physical style and “Best Text” technology. The Nook is the sharpest looking eReader I’ve used, and it is made from quality materials. The text contrast on the NT is absolutely killer, much better than my Kindle Touch. I love the feel of holding the NT, and it is always quick and responsive (much faster than my Kobo Touch, which seems like it has a dinosaur of an OS).

    If B&N would throw in a much-needed software update, then I could see keeping the NT at the top of the “best eReader” list, but as of right now…

  3. The Nook designed in excellent for holding the reader but if you use a cover, that is useless. I do like that it still retains page turn buttons with the touch reader.

    I also judge the quality of an ereader by their PC reader. The Nook Reader is a terrible program and again does not allow deleting of sideloaded books in the program and it segregates your stuff from the books you buy from them. The Nook Study is a little better program and allow deletion of sideloads.

    The Kindle PC Reader is better is that it allows deletions, provides instant multiple dictionary support, wikepedia lookup and allows you more key options to change pages. However, I do not like the idea that the sideloaded books cannot load directly into the program but one needs to load the books into the directory. I think it integrates better with a Kindle with books purchased from Amazon and it is not necessary to connect the kindle to the PC for syncing.

    Above all, I do not like the Adobe reader and the Adobe DRM which is necessary for the Nook system. It runs into many difficulties with a separate password and restricts the amount of PC that can be authorized–it is nightmare for support when there are problems. The Kindle relies on its own single system for DRM and does not need Adobe.

  4. All things considered, Nook Glow and Nook Touch aren’t bad, but my preference would be for Sony PRS-T1 or Kobo Touch, especially if they can make use of new Android apps. Nook is in sore need of Sony’s “drag and drop” feature.

  5. I think the Sony PRS-T1 is the most interesting reader I have owned. The screen contrast is certainly the most white/black of all the readers (whereas the Nook and Kindle’s backgrounds have more of a greenish-grey tint).

    I really like Kobo for their amazing eBook coupons and open platform, plus the design of their reader is excellent. Unfortunately, the OS is super laggy and the text contrast is nothing to brag about (my Kindle 2 has sharper text than my new Kobo Touch).

    I really wish Kobo would come out with a new eReader and an 7″ tablet that truly competes with the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

  6. I like my nook, but I think if I were just getting into the whole ebook thing now, I would choose the kindle. B&N really lost points when they took the web browser out(even if it wasn’t very good).
    I think the worst part is that the nook has so much potential, but it got crippled. B&N needs to put out a really great firmware update before I decide that the books I bought through their store aren’t enough to keep me from switching brands…