New Nook Glow Released, Disappointments Aplenty


Nook GlowLight

Barnes and Noble announced a new Nook GlowLight ebook reader today that is available now in B&N retail stores and online at Nook.com for $119, with a 10% discount for B&N members.

B&N has dropped the “Simple Touch” designation and is calling the new device simply “Nook GlowLight”.

B&N is claiming the Nook GlowLight is the best ereader yet, but I have some serious doubts. While there are a couple of new features to get excited about, it’s what’s missing that’s going to keep most would-be buyers from getting one.

Let’s start with the good news: the display. As expected, the Nook GlowLight got a boost in screen resolution up from 800 x 600 to the new “HD” standard of 1024 x 758. It also appears to have a much better frontlight that’s more uniform and evenly lit than the original GlowLight Nook Touch. On the downside it doesn’t use the new Carta screens from E Ink like the new Kindle Paperwhite; it uses Pearl.

B&N claims the new Nook is more durable and that the display can handle more abuse than before by using a new top layer material and lamination process. The device also has a silicone trim that is supposed to provide extra protection against falls.

Other positive improvements include an 18% decrease in weight from the previous Nook, and they increased internal storage space from 2GB to 4GB.

Now for the bad news. Unfortunately the folks in charge of making the Nook GlowLight have no clue what people want from an ebook reader. The very things that made the Nook Touch more desirable over the competition since launching 2 and a half years ago are now gone.

These are the main three things that are going to keep people from buying the new Nook GlowLight:

1. MicroSD card slot removed.

2. Page-turn buttons removed.

3. Only 500MB available for sideloaded non-B&N content.

As if those three things aren’t bad enough, there’s more. The new Nook is only available in white. Anyone who knows anything about E Ink can tell you that a dark border makes text appear darker. Even though it’s nothing more than an optical illusion, white ereaders appear to have worse contrast. And the difference is a lot more noticeable than you would think. There’s a reason everyone offers dark ereaders. White is an option sometimes but not the only option.

Another disappointment with the Nook GlowLight is the fact that it runs such an old version of Android, Android 2.1. That’s the same as the original Nook Touch. Such an out-dated version of Android really closes the door on a lot of hacking, but since B&N removed the microSD card slot it doesn’t matter much because no one is going to want to waste time hacking this thing now anyway.

One thing that continues to irk me about B&N’s marketing tactics is they keep repeating that there are “No Annoying Ads”—a shot at Amazon’s Kindles, which all have the option for displaying ads if you pay a lower price. But then B&N puts recommended reading titles on the homescreen that take up half the screen. How is that not an ad to sell more books? At least on the Kindles there’s a setting to remove recommended titles from the homescreen. Not so on the Nook, at least not on the previous models.

I was hoping that Barnes and Noble would be able to redeem themselves with a new innovative Nook ereader, but instead of giving new customers a reason to buy it over something else, they’ve removed some of the best features and have decided to go backwards instead. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given the direction of the company in recent months. It’s pretty clear the people in charge at B&N are totally clueless. As bad as it is it could be worse. At least B&N isn’t giving up on ebook readers like Sony did.

35 Responses to “New Nook Glow Released, Disappointments Aplenty”

  1. No micro SD card slot would be fine, if it wasn’t for that 500MB limitation on sideloaded content. I mean, come on! You just doubled storage, but barely changed how much of it is available for side loaded content!

    That and the white color.

    Looks like a Kobo Aura for me now. Sigh. Sorry Barnes and Noble, it was nice knowing you and I still love my simple touch, but when I go to buy a new eReader you will not be on the “considered” list.

    • Agreed. Love my Nook Glowlight, but I’m not willing to give up that SD card slot. Maybe, MAYBE if this was a 16gb model with a whole ton of that available for sideloading, but not as it is. I like the improvements to the screen and frontlight and I can live with the white only bezel and the loss of navigation buttons, but this product just become non-compelling with the loss of one, single feature. Real shame.

    • What irkes me the most is the inability to have a browser and at least keep side loaded books in Dropbox for easy downloading. They don’t consider non english speakers and that turned me to Kobo once I found out how this worked.

  2. White ony? Meh. Pearl screen? Meh. No SD expansion? Poop sammich… on rye.

    No offense is intended toward those who like rye… or poop sammiches.

  3. Wow, I had such high hopes. I was sort of regretting buying a second Simple Touch when I found out that a new Nook was coming out. No regrets now.

  4. I, too, would prefer the Kobo, but could someone tell me if I can read my Barnes and Noble books on the Kobo Aura?

  5. I love this new Nook Glo light because is white, i have a Kobo Glo white and i love this color, but kobo for me is the worst e-reader many problems with this e-reader, I prefer Kindle, Sony and Nook.

  6. I predict the silicone edge will show dirt/grime pretty quickly. I still use my Nook ST and GL occasionally but have moved on to Kindle PW2, a really fine reader. I’m still rooting for B&N (no pun intended), but this release is disappointing I agree. No way it’ll win me back from Kindle. Now, had it meen a COLOR e-ink device? Well, that’s another story.

  7. Yippee!

    Why am I so excited? Because I decided to jump on buying the old Glowlight model when I saw it on clearance at Wal*Mart. Looks like the only thing I gave up is the higher resolution screen. Which at my age really doesn’t matter that much. It does not matter if the screen can display smaller fonts clearer, the will still be blurry to my 50 year old eyes. (As I have commented before, even the original light is better than using an external light, which I did for two years.)

    Oh, and I got to keep the ability to ‘root’ which I did after two weeks. So I don’t see those annoying no ads on the home screen because I now no longer see the home screen.

    I see an opportunity out there for somebody to make dark colored adhesive skins for the “New” Nook Glow.

    • Yeah, aside from the higher resolution screen and better frontlight, the old Nook Glow has more going for it than this new one. Way to go B&N. And it took them a year and a half to come out with it, no less.

    • Decalgirl.com is where I get the skins for my devices and I am sure they will have skins for this new Nook soon and they come in all sorts of designs and colors, dark included.

  8. Maybe I am just more basic in my needs but I love the new version of the Glow Light. I never really ever used my SD card slot so it isn’t really something that is a deal breaker for me. I’m not a big sideloader. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, it is certainly a plus. However, it isn’t really surprising when you consider the Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, iPad, Nexus tablets (I believe) etc. don’t have it either. I also don’t really use the page buttons so I don’t think they are really needed. So, I like it. For me the most important features are the light and the display and it looks like those have been improved.

  9. Oh come on B&N!! A white case!! No dedicated page turn buttons!!! It’s totally unbelievable that they can make such terrible design decisions. They really should know better. Are we just going to let Amazon have a monopoly? I’m getting rather tired of the lack of innovation or thought in the e-ink space and am seriously considering an iPad. In the UK you wouldn’t want to read outside anyway, it’s either freezing or raining most of the time ;-D

  10. Seeing the title of this post, I didn’t expect much, but I was thinking “at least it’ll probably be running a newer Android so I can finally run Moon Reader Pro after rooting.” And then, B&N killed all of the best features of the reader. I really prefer reading on my Nook, but I don’t use it much anymore because it doesn’t auto-sync my books and reading positions like my Android phone and tablets do with Moon Reader. For the record, Nooks do try to auto-sync, but mine fails miserably at the task.

  11. Epic fail, B&N. Everything good and holy about the NST has been stripped away: the page turn buttons, the smokey-black color, the MicroSD card slot. A resolution upgrade and better glowlight was all you really needed to do (E Ink Carta is a smoke-in-mirrors name change; I can’t tell a bit of difference between the display/text quality of my KPW and KPW2). So lame.

    Also, why did you decide to go with the ‘surprised-look-up and smile’ actors in your new commercial. It’s creepy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-D_0zByBOo

    • I don’t think it’s accurate to say it’s a “smoke-and-mirrors” type of scheme. If you look at this video (from those that shall not be named) at 6:00, you can definitely tell the KPW 2 has superior contrast to the KPW.

      (Comparison at 6:00)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlMQE32o3MM

      • Here’s a better video comparing the old and new Paperwhites 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LnCUV9eNwg

        I have to agree, though. Carta pretty much is smoke and mirrors. I think most of the improvement on the new Kindle’s screen is the way the light layer works and how it was implemented. With the lights turned all the way down I certainly wouldn’t call the PW2’s screen an “upgrade”. The background looks a little bit lighter, which is pretty common when comparing new devices with older ones. Text looks the same. Seriously, if Carta had never been announced no one would ever suspect that the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is using entirely new screen technology.

        I think that E Ink is just using marketing tactics to get people to want to buy a new ereader this year and in 2014 with the “latest and greatest” screen tech. E Ink’s sales have plummeted since the rise of the tablet. Color E Ink has gone no where. They are looking for any little reason to get people to buy a new ereader.

        • While I liked your video, I wish you would’ve blown up the text on both models to highlight the contrast difference with the Carta tech.

          • Stuff like that never shows up well on video, especially having to shrink the file for processing, which reduces clarity and resolution, so I stopped trying a long time ago. Plus my camera has problems focusing on anything closer than a few inches. It wouldn’t show any difference anyways because there hardly is any. The background color of E Ink varies a lot from year to year and unit to unit. Under some lighting the Aura HD looks like it has a lighter background than the new Paperwhite. Plus the Aura HD can make fonts bolder, which increases perceived contrast. Don’t let E Ink’s marketing tactics draw you in. Carta is fool’s gold. I plan on doing a post about it soon. I’ll include some close up pictures, which works better than video.

  12. At the risk of sounding like a B&N apologist — something that anyone who’s read my other ramblings here knows I’m not…

    This device has a significantly improved reading surface. Higher resolution, increased contrast, more even lighting. Overall, they’ve made it easier to read the text, which is what people buy a dedicated e-reader for.

    They’ve also significantly increased the number of NOOK Books that the device can hold. There probably aren’t that many people who needed the extra NOOK Book storage, but those folks *are* B&N’s best e-book customers.

    Add in the lighter weight and, for the masses, this is a more lovable device than the NSTGL.

    The white color? I dunno. I suspect that the intent is to make the NGL visibly different from the competition. I don’t think it’s going to bother the intended buyers the way it bothers aficionados.

    Removing the page-turn buttons might’ve been a small mis-step. B&N’s tablets don’t have them, but the NGL *is* a dedicated e-reader, not a tablet.

    I suspect that removing the SD card slot was mainly intended to patch up the garden wall. It makes rooting a lot more difficult, and offers limited space for content obtained from sources other than B&N. I dunno, though… half a gig can still hold a ton of sideloaded e-books.

    As for Android 2.1, who really cares? It’s an e-reader, not an Android tablet. You can’t load apps on it. Most of the changes in later Android versions are for hardware (cameras, GPS, etc.) that the NGL doesn’t have anyway.

    The NGL is a B&N flag-bearer. For its intended market — people who want a dedicated e-reader that’s connected to the B&N store — it looks like a pretty good device. Even without page turn buttons.

    For those of us who aren’t fans of walled gardens, yeah, this isn’t the device for us. And it sure isn’t going to be popular with the rooting crowd. But we’re not the folks B&N is planning to sell to.

    Personally, I think the hardware is less of an issue than the software. Features like shelving, highlighting, bookmarking, and such that are synced to B&N’s servers have been noticeably absent in previous B&N devices and apps. Would I be cynical to suspect that the NGL isn’t any better? Synced highlighting and bookmarking was promised when the original NOOK was announced four years ago, but has never been delivered.

    • I know everyone is carrying on about the page turn buttons but even the Paperwhite doesn’t have them and hasn’t had them since them for quite some time so for most people, I don’t think it is much of an issue. If someone really wants page turn buttons, Nook is still selling its basic unlit NST.

  13. I’m so disappointed! Basically, B&N eliminated all the key features that differentiated the Nook Glowlight from the Paperwhite.

    I especially miss the microSD slot (especially if only 500MB is available for sideloaded content), plus the page turn buttons (I didn’t use them as intended, but instead as shortcuts to apps after I rooted the device).

    The screen might be a bit better, but I consider this a major downgrade in every other regard.

  14. If B&N sell their new Nook GT’s display (frontlit included) separately, it would be great if I can plug it in my old Nook STGT.

    • Not too likely… different technology and resolutions on the two screens. The old firmware of the NST wouldn’t know what to do with the 1024×768 screen. Likely, the data ribbon location is different as well, specifically to avoid such mishaps. Shame really, that new screen would be sweet on the old Glowlight.

  15. I was dissapointed re: the loss of the expandable storage and the page turn buttons on the new Nook Glowlight.

    It now seems that the new Kindle PW and the New Nook Glowlight are almost exactly the same in terms of harware specs. (The Nook has more built in storage 4GB compared to the Kindle PW’s 2GB — but the Nook has this strange 500MB limit for non B&N content). I wonder does the Kindle PW have a limit like this?

    Looks like the new Kindle PW and the new Nook Glowlight are non-starters as far as I’m concerned (i.e. no expandable storage)

    Hopefully B&N will still continue selling the regular Nook Simple Touch, which is a fantastic little e-reader (and has expandable storage).

  16. To heck with the physical observations. Did B&N fix any of the user interface itself? Can I better manage my library, tag books and put them in the order I want, delete from one device without deleting from all of my Nooks, etc.?

    Any user improvements at all? I’m not interested in a hardware race. I’d love my current Nook even better if it just had some, what I see as, basic user fixes.

  17. I just returned a Nook Simple Touch because the PDF viewer is a horrible piece of crapola.

    This unit may be somewhat better as far as DPI goes, but come on… why would I buy this over the Amazon products?!

    I will wait until Amazon updates the 9.7 inch DX. If they go color, they’ll get my money.

    If B&N were smart (no evidence of that) they’d put out a Linux based tablet without Android. If they courted the Linux community they’d have 1000s of dedicated followers instantly who could help them improve the product for free.

    I like B&N as a company but their Nook division is run by ahem… geniuses.

  18. Eryk, you’d buy Nook over Kindle if you had a large investment in Nook books and didn’t want to lose them.

    I agree though, the DPI is not significant, nor are any of the recent hardware improvements for all the readers I’ve seen.

    Seems it was not that long ago we were all clamoring for improvements in the interface. Better book controls. Better library controls.

    I don’t remember too many people saying they needed a faster processor or more DPI to make their reader more useful.

    I’m still looking for that better reader experience. The DPI and contrast on both my ST and STG are just fine. It’s the rest of the experience that is just painful anymore. And to think, they could fix almost all of it with some code tweaks – we wouldn’t even have to buy a new device.

    If the Nook had the best interface, proving the best experience, we’d be staying with B&N and buying our books through them. Not looking for some other device and hoping it would be better.

  19. Well, i’m not giving up my rooted Nook simple touch…
    Al reader, Cool reader.. I certainly can’t go back to B&N stock reader on the device.( let’s put all the other goodness of rooting aside and focus of reading)
    There is another player on the market, Boox, which promises to deliver an android back lighted, rooted device on the market pretty soon.
    These guys from Asia look pretty determined about their products. I think that I’ll just wait for that one.
    Guys let’s just wait it out.. I don’t think that new Nook is tha way to go, this product is just chasing Kidle’s tail, and not a very good one.
    And yes, that commercial is friggin creepy. Put the sexy housewife back! ^^

  20. well said nathan. totally agree with you.thanks for the post.

  21. Unbelievable. You are the first person (that I have found) who gets it. All of the issues that I have with the new Nook, right down to the color, are covered here. I used to sing the praises of the Nook to every reader I knew: no more. I am deeply disappointed in the direction they took. Time to start seriously looking at a Kobo.

  22. I think Barnes and Noble eliminated the SD slot and buttons specifically to thwart people like me who want an e-ink device that lets me read online articles and check email. Such foolishness logically follows BN’s removal, about 18 months ago, of the built-in browser all NSTs used to have.

    I’m still really disappointed that the company is so obvious in its willingness to alienate everybody except frequent purchasers of BN e-books, which are mostly overpriced anyway.

    I’d pay 200 dollars for a versatile, e-ink based reader that lets me online as well as displaying my books.

  23. Boo Radley Raskolnikov April 11, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    This is a ridiculous move by bn… A slap in the face to the general e reading public: (“OBTAIN CONTENT ONLY FROM B&N! AND PAY FOR IT! AND IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A LARGE EBOOK LIBRARY FROM AMAZON OR WHEREVER (bittorrent… Google “Vuze” for Mac, “uTorrent” for Windows… But please only download the public domain works 😉 never download, say… a zip file containing all 100 of the NY Times Bestseller List from this or any month… Or, say… The complete works of basically every author who is published in book form. Or magazine. Etc.etc..).
    Either way, my mom just got me the new nook glp BC my old Kindle died, and it suxdixncox… ,500MB for all of my thousands of collected works? I don’t think so Barnes. I have rooted every Android I’ve ever had so I have no problem with routing this nook… But what I want to know is.. Once rooted, how to I regain ALL of the storage space? Is it just like changing permissions on a directory, or do I need some kind of volume manager??