First Impressions of the Nook Touch with GlowLight – A Reader’s Review


Editor’s Note: This first impressions review of the Nook Touch with GlowLight (dubbed NookGL) was submitted by Cloudmann in the comments section of an earlier post. It’s kind of hidden over there so I thought I’d give it a post of its own since it is well-written and informative. Plus this gives everyone a good place to discuss the new Nook as it starts arriving at our doors. Thanks for the review, Cloudmann!

Just got mine in today. For sanity’s sake, I’ll call it the NookGL. The GL is the same ole NST (albeit with firmware 1.1.5… whether this does more than just support the glowlight, I’m not sure). The software, reading, etc. are all the same. Here’s what I noticed.

1) Obviously, the NookGL has seen the light! The glowlight works great. At 20-25 percent, the screen is lit WELL and is very readable. There’s a bit of LED bleeding at the top of the screen, but it doesn’t detract from reading at all. The software and UI have been updated to allow for the light interfacing. The manuals have been updated, too.

2) You wouldn’t know it picking the two models up individually, but when holding the NST and NookGL side by side in either hand, and swapping them, the half-ounce weight difference is noticeable. Not life changing, but definitely there. The NookGL seems to balance in one hand a bit more comfortably, too.

3) The back of the NookGL seems to feel a bit smoother, but more matte than the NST. The texture is a bit different. It feels a bit more “velvety” for lack of a better word. Works out great.

4) The anti-glare screen texture feels a bit different. Not bad, not good… just different.

Other than that, it’s the same ole hat. Worth the $130? Yup! The light just makes for a really complete product. If only this thing supported audio…

Setup took literally less than five minutes.

Haven’t tried to root it. This one’s my wife’s. If I get another, I’ll try to root it out and see if touchnooter is compatible. Might be…

A little more to add, since I’ve had this for more than a couple of hours, now. The NookGL seems (to me, at least) to charge a bit quicker than the NST. It came out of the box with a 52% charge. I poked around with it a bit, played with the light for a while, and got it down to 30%… took a bit of time, though. It charged to 100% in about an hour and 15 minutes. Not too shabby. Newer battery, perhaps? Better charging/discharging algorithms? Who knows?

Wifi roughly doubles battery usage, as does the light (at full blast). Both on all the time QUADRUPLE the usage. Still, this thing goes a long way. Just turn Wifi off while not using it, ditto for the light, and voila, same ole gas sipping Nook as before.

Also, playing around with it a bit (again, this could be just me), the screen seems a tad more responsive. Tough to explain other than to say things just seem a bit more snappy while navigating, page turning, typing, etc., but just a LITTLE bit. Whether this is a hardware or software update, or just my imagination, I’m not sure. Anyone else experienced this?

I LOVE this thing, but find myself wishing it had audio book support (and therefore sound capability), even if only through a headphone jack. Also, it would have been nice to see one of the LG plastic XGA (1024×768) screens in this thing, not just for the extra 60% increase in resolution, but for the durability of the plastic itself. An update to gingerbread would’ve been a nice extra tidbit for rooters everywhere, too. Oh well, can’t really hope for the moon and expect it.

Don’t get me wrong, this thing ROCKS and is the best eink solution right now, only seconded by the NST. Here’s to more and better future B&N products, and more and better competition to raise the bar further. B&N just threw down the gauntlet.

Oh yeah, I dig the new grey bezel around the front panel. Looks sleek.

8 Responses to “First Impressions of the Nook Touch with GlowLight – A Reader’s Review”

  1. is it true that it have a lower contrast than the NST?

  2. I love my NST, but the only way I can imagine someone figuring that adding a light (however nice) justified a $130 pricetag is if the person either had a substantial amount of disposable income, or they were unaware that the NST is commonly on sale for $60-85 these days.

  3. Xyzz (Mohammed) Why do you think so many people have purchased one of these @ $25 a pop. Huh? B&N is first to market with this feature. They are going to charge a premium. Quit whining and be hapy with your flashlight until others add this feature.

  4. Just to put the price increase into perspective. Having the lighting built into the screen saves having to purchase an external reader light. These lights are tricky to use and to position so the screen is lit evenly. Additionally, these lights cost around $20 (or at least mine did).

    Considering you now have amazing even lighting on the screen this is a great value.

    I’m a jealous Sony e-reader fan!

  5. Firstly, thanks to Nathan for making this a separate post. I just wanted my impressions out for everyone to see, and now it’s easier to find. Yay!

    I agree with the above responses about owing a NST and just getting the light separately. Effectively, this does give you the NookGL. However, NONE of these lights work as advertised. Lighting is uneven, and these look like spotlights to anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the same dark room as the reader. The NookGL, uses the in-bezel LED strip and a plastic film to project the light down onto the screen as evenly as possible. The light reflects back up to the user from the screen doing this. This eliminates glare from an external light, blinding of unfortunate passers-by, and MUCH more uniform lighting. The GL’s light is very pleasant to look at, as well… its a soft white-blue light. Very easy on the eyes.

    I’ve discovered that in a very dark room, even at the lowest setting, with the glowlight on, the screen is legible. Even so, I recommend having this between 10 to 20 percent. At 15 percent or so on the slider (more than good enough for a pitch-black room or dawn/dusk reading conditions with no other light sources) the light really does very little to battery life, as it seemed to drain only about 20 percent faster than with the light off.

    Also, this prevents the owner from having to carry around and use another piece of gear like an external light. That defeats the slim profile and portability of the NST and NookGL. Having to NOT buy batteries for a superfluous piece of gear is a plus, too.

    Bottom line, the glowlight works better than, is more convenient than, and is ultimately cheaper (when considering batteries and the cost of the extra light) than an external light. Just not having to affix and position the light just-right while all the time having a peripheral tumor growing out of the reader was enough for me. If the light worked ONLY as well as the externals, I’d still have bought it… as it is, there’s no comparison; this light is infinitely better.

    Are other manufacturers going to do similar things? Heck yeah! They’ll have their own solutions or utilize something along the lines of the flex LED technology. That’s fine. I love the Nook products and all of this just fit nicely for me. Your mileage may vary, though

  6. Oh, and since I’ve neglected to mention it so far (duh), the new glowlight film and factory installed anti-glare filter on the NookGL screen do NOT noticeably affect image quality. Compared side-by side with my NST (with and without the official B&N store-bought screen protector), the NookGL actually looks just a teeny bit sharper. With the light on, contrast is quite a bit better, too, since ever-so-lightly-gray-white background of the Eink screen becomes a nice clean white with just a slight blue tinge. Bottom line, no noticeable difference, same great quality, better reading experience.

  7. I saw elsewhere that the improved response time is due to an upgraded e-ink screen. That’s literally all they said, so I don’t know any other details on the hardware upgrade.

    As for cost, if you approach it from the accessories side, where everything is overpriced, it’s a decent deal considering how slick the light is. However, the devices are so cheap for the amount of functionality you get that asking a 40-50% premium just to add a light seems excessive.

    Yes, it’s a premium feature, and I’m sure it will move many units, but if they added it to the standard $99 NST then it would make Nook vs Kindle a very easy choice for new e-reader buyers. For now I’m guessing we’ll have to wait until Amazon makes it a standard feature on the Kindle, then B&N will follow.

  8. There is currently a fair amount of unit-to-unit variation on these. I got two last week (my girlfriend’s birthday is coming up, and she saw the announcement and said she wanted one but couldn’t rationalize buying it, which gave me the excuse to get two! win!) and my sample has noticeably less even lighting than hers does. I’ll be calling BN later today to arrange a tradeout – our store has zero in stock.

    The devices are rootable. the Noogie disk boots them and if you have access a linux virtual machine, you can boot from noogie, easily make a full dd backup, and add binaries and the modded uRamdisk. There isn’t an automated root tool for it yet.

    The light is very, very nice to have. Is it worth the premium, and the contrast tradeoff? To my eye, the contrast change is noticeable but not a dealbreaker. I’m able to read in a much wider range of ambient light levels than I could before, and it makes this a much more usable eink device than it was. I look forward to going camping with it, for instance.

    One caution: this is a nook which you want to have an external cover of some sort on before you put it in a pack or rest things on it, etc. The built-in screen protector is also a light guide, and if that surface is damaged, the light works but you can easily have an annoying light leak, judging from a video I’ve seen. Probably also a good device to get the extended warranty on, the one that covers accidents as well as hardware failure.