Best e-Reader: Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight
E-books are soaring in popularity, thanks to the ease of shopping, buying and carrying around a small library.
With apps, you can read these books on computers, smartphones and tablets. But a dedicated e-reader provides the right mixture of screen size and long battery life.
What we like
Reading digital books has always been a trade-off. Devices with LCD screens, such as the iPad, are great in dim settings and useless in the sun. For e-readers with grayscale E Ink screens, it's the other way around.
The $139 Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight breaks the stalemate by adding a row of LED lights, called a GlowLight, to the top edge of its six-inch E Ink screen touch screen. It's not nearly as bright as an iPad's screen. But that's a virtue, because it's easier on the eyes and on the battery. (Barnes & Noble claims that the GlowLight can stay on for more than 15 hours per charge.)
The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has many other winning features. The touch screen, covered with an anti-glare layer, is very responsive. It easily registered the swipes and taps to page forward and backward. And images change quickly without the annoying flash and blink on Amazon Kindle e-readers.
Barnes & Noble offers an extensive catalog with about 2.5 million books, 400 magazines and 40 newspapers. The device reads publications that use the EPUB standard (as well as PDFs). That allows users to borrow e-books from libraries for free and to read titles from Google and the Sony and Kobo digital bookstores. Amazon Kindles, in comparison, cannot access EPUB-based publications. [Three Publishers to Compensate Ebook Buyers]
Keep in mind
The device has only Wi-Fi, not a cellular connection. But it gets free access at all Barnes & Noble stores and the more than 24,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots in the U.S.
Built-in storage for books is limited to about one gigabyte. To put that in perspective, we used up about 760 megabytes with 17 periodicals, 13 books and the two preloaded user guides. However, unlike many e-readers, this device has a slot for adding a microSD memory card (up to 32 GB), providing plenty of room to expand. [2-Minute Expert: How Much iPad Storage Do I Need?]
If $139 is beyond your budget, you can forego the GlowLight and get the basic Nook Simple Touch for $99.
The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight would be an excellent e-reader simply for its great screen, intuitive interface and access to a vast content library. Throw in the ability to read in the backseat of a car, on a plane or in bed at night, and you've got the best digital reader available.
Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight Key Specs
- 5 (w) by 6.5 (h) by 0.47 (d) inches, 6.95 ounces
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- 6-inch, 600-by-800 pixel E Ink touch screen
- 1 GB book storage, expandable to 33 GB