Nook Steps Ahead of Kindle With Announcement of GlowLight

While we recently learned that Amazon was planning something new with a front-lit version of the Kindle, Barnes & Noble has gone a step further and launched a lit Nook complete with release date.  There’s no reason to think this is anything but a reaction to the leaked info regarding Amazon’s plans, but the fact that they already had a response prepared like this indicates a great deal of foresight.  What was already quite possibly the best eReading hardware on the market will be the first to get upgraded for the next generation.

Those familiar with the Nook Simple Touch will also have a good impression of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.  They are the same product, as the name might imply.  GlowLight, Barnes & Noble’s solution to the problem of reading in poor lighting, has just been added into the existing model with minimal fuss.  It doesn’t even get in the way of what have traditionally been the strengths of the un-lit eReader.

The new Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight will still have the same E Ink screen that we’re used to.  It will work as well as ever in direct sunlight and any other situation where reading from a paper book would be plausible.  The difference now is that holding down the ‘n’ button on the Nook will turn on a set of LEDs along the sides of the display.  This provides sufficient light for any situation while avoiding a drastic increase in battery drain.

This upgrade will add an additional $40 to the price tag of the Nook.  It is likely more than worth the investment, though.  You are getting all of the advantages of E Ink with the conveniences a standard LCD would provide, but supplied in such a way as to be fairly easy on the eyes even when the adjustable lighting is in use.  That’s the sort of convenience you really can’t pass up in an eReader.

The Kindle product line is still my preference and the eReader line that I would recommend to anybody I knew personally.  That is not so much a matter of hardware superiority at this point, though.  If anything, it is a matter of hardware adequacy and highly superior back-end support to shore up the physical product by comparison.  There is nothing wrong with the Kindle Touch, per se, but it also doesn’t come with any such compellingly interesting new features.

We know that Amazon will be releasing something similar to GlowLight.  Chances are even good that now that B&N has set a May release date for the new Nook, a shiny new Kindle will appear by June.  If circumstances surrounding the settlements in the DOJ price fixing investigation didn’t seem likely to offer Kindle owners some truly amazing advantages in the near future, though, this would be the time when Amazon needed to sweat a little over the competition’s superior offering.

3 thoughts on “Nook Steps Ahead of Kindle With Announcement of GlowLight”

  1. All said and done, but isn’t it a beatiful example of favouritism on your part? As I perceive the flow of the events, it’s the Amazon who tried to undermine the premiere of new Nook, presenting glimpses of unfinished product. With great degree of success. IMHO, accents in your post should be reversed – it’s the Amazon who is late and is forced to react to adversary’s moves, it’s not B&N who reacted brillantly to the gossip of the new Kindle, the gossip itself was presented as a preemptive response. Do not think bad of me, I’m proud and happy kindle owner myself, but let’s give credit where it is due.

  2. I’m glad the nook is doing well and innovating, keeping Amazon on their toes. Competition is good for the evolution of the e-reader and something we need to prevent complacency from Amazon.

    I like the sound of this development, now if they’d only announce something about a color e-ink screen coming soon we’ll really be in business.

  3. Matt,

    It’s definitely possible that you’re right on that. I didn’t hear so much as a mention of the new Nook product previously, though. Obviously I can’t comment on what goes on behind the scenes at either company unless something slips out through people better connected than I am at the moment, so there is some guesswork involved.

    From where I stand, B&N announced their product earlier than makes sense given that it’s the sort of upgrade that will be hard to build extended hype over. Left to their own devices, I would expect to see B&N announcing 7-10 days prior to release so that preview models could be issued to stores. That’s why I’m inclined to call it a reaction.

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