Showing posts with label Nook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nook. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Barnes & Noble updates the Nook GlowLight

Barnes & Noble updated their Nook GlowLight e-reader and I really like the throw-back design and return to physical page turning buttons (the design is a refined version of the Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight). The specifications, however, are disappointing: again we have another six inch e-reader and the water-proofing has been removed. The main updates are in storage (8 GB) and Night Mode (Night Mode is similar to Kobo's 'Comfort Light' that allows the user to shift to a warmer front-light for bedtime reading). The updated Nook e-reader is a US only device (Barnes & Noble ceased selling digital devices and content in the UK in 2016).

I predict Barnes & Noble will continue to maintain their digital division (Nook) in the long-term. This means the Nook e-reader will continue to be B&N's flagship device for its digital content. B&N does offer tablets but these are Android devices sold in partnership with Samsung that are pre-loaded with Nook apps and widgets. The $50 Nook tablet is the first Nook branded tablet released since the Nook HD and HD+ but, similar to the Samsung tablets, is another Android device. Previous Nook branded tablets, in contrast, were released with a tailor made version of Android that integrated an app store, video store and reading content (similar to Amazon's strategy with Fire tablets). Barnes & Noble has since down-sized, scrapping their app and video store, and focused exclusively on reading content. Len Riggio, Barnes & Noble's executive chairman, admitted that "B&N didn't have the culture or financing to compete with the likes of Amazon and Google".

Thursday, 20 October 2016

UK NOOK customers transferred to Kobo

Kobo will receive Barnes & Noble’s previous UK Nook customers. It is a strange turn of events initiated by the closure of Barnes & Noble Nook outside the US and the transfer of its UK user-base to Sainsbury’s (Sainsbury’s sold Nook e-readers, tablets and accessories when they entered the UK). Now Sainsbury’s are closing their own e-book services and transferring their customers, including previous Nook UK users, to Kobo!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The limited functionality of the Nook Glowlight Plus

Barnes & Noble introduced their first dedicated e-reader in two years. In terms of hardware, expectedly, the device compares to the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo HD. However, it sets itself apart in that the device is both waterproof and even dust-proof; Kobo Aura H20, on the other hand, is waterproof only but this is Kobo's premium seven inch e-reader. The Good e-Reader and The e-Book Reader reviewed the device and praised its excellent display; however, as is predictable with Nook e-readers, there is no serious re-vamping of the firmware functionality. The device still runs a closed version of Android (the use of closed Android has been the case since the Nook Simple Touch), which in itself should not be a problem, but without any significant added firmware's features. In fact, judging from reviews, the interface is familiar from previous generations, including the Nook Simple Touch. There is the addition of the 'ReadOuts' feature, on the home screen, while useful is not a substantial improvement. Yet, even with some additions, the Nook e-reader platform remains considerably behind both Amazon and Kobo. What we have is the repetition of past Nook e-readers - good hardware but firmware that is both buggy and with restricted features. Even the previous generation Nook e-reader (Nook Glowlight), with its poor build quality, still bettered Amazon and Kobo for display quality.

In regards to tablets, I previously posted that the release of the Samsung S2 Nook (a premium device) was an attempt to add further variety to an existing range of Samsung Nook tablets. The speculation was that Barnes & Noble were not looking to further add to their current budget range, considering an existing inventory of Tab 4 Nook tablets offered. However, the Samsung Tab E Nook 9.6 was released, before the Nook Glowlight Plus, and this replaces the Samsung Tab 4 Nook 10.1. I don't understand Samsung's rationale behind their tablet range (has it ever been clear?); in term of specifications this tablet, it appears, replaces the Tab 4 range but there is no Tab E 7 to replace the Tab 4 7. At this time, the Tab 4 7 Nook is still offered as Barnes & Noble's default smaller tablet. Whatever the case, unless deeply invested in the Nook eco-system, Amazon's Fire 10 HD is the better option and sells for less. What you get with Amazon is not only a better and more extensive eco-system, with consistent and good firmware, but also all-round better features of the tablet as an e-reading device. However, both tablets offer sub-standard resolution with 149 ppi, which translates into significant pixelation of text. Something like the Nexus 9 would make a better choice, in every way, even with Amazon discounting their Fire HD tablets.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The strange trajectory of the Nook platform

Barnes & Noble released their new premium tablet e-reader - it is essentially the second generation Samsung Tab S 8.4 but with Nook e-services (apps, e-book shop and e-reading experience) built into the firmware. Barnes & Noble's dedicated hardware endured heavy loses, when going against Amazon's range of Kindle tablets, that necessitated a turn in direction. However, instead of concentrating on improving their e-ink reader and developing more choice beyond the Nook Glowlight, Barnes & Noble thought it would be better to release vanilla Samsung tablets with some add-ons. The question then is why add a premium device, that sells for $399, when no similarly priced device was released before, whether as a Nook tablet or in partnership with Samsung. If the current range of Tab 4 tablets is to be replaced, then a partnership with Asus for an eight inch tablet (Asus Zenpad 8) and Lenovo (Tab 2 A10) for a larger one, would offer good specifications at a more value friendly price.

My personal speculation is that the move to introduce an eight inch premium device, one with an excellent Amoled display, might be understood considering an earlier decision to partner with Samsung and purchase a stock of Tab 4 tablets. It is likely this is an attempt to add another option to the existing range of tablets with the Nook e-reading experience, beyond the more budget range on offer with the Tab 4 7 and 10.1. There is also, considering continuous loss, a large inventory of unsold Tab 4 tablets and it may not be workable to introduce a new range of partnered Nook tablets with other manufacturers. The Tab S2 could then be envisaged as a Nook offering with the existing Tab 4 range. Of course, the bigger problem was an attempt to offer some form of Nook device, even if it is nothing more than a Samsung tablet with some extra Nook features. When the Tab 5 is eventually released, as Samsung does continuously refresh its tablet line, then Barnes & Noble might need to significantly discount the Tab 4 range, as happened with the Nook HD and HD+ tablets, with a probable inventory of unsold device that need to be offloaded. Considering this, Barnes & Noble might decide to discontinue the Tab series partnership with Samsung, with one premium tablet being the only option to keep some form of Nook tablet. Going into partnership with another manufacturer could no longer be an option; however, this is Barnes & Noble, so it is difficult to predict or even understand what it decides next.

It should be stated that tablet sales are on the decline, other than Amazon dominating tablets with an e-reader focus; hence Kobo, I believe, has taken the right path in discontinuing their tablet range and working on offering a wider range of good e-readers (when Kobo announced a 300 ppi Kobo Glo HD, Amazon followed straight after by unexpectedly bumping up the resolution of their excellent Kindle Paperwhite). The point is that varying the range of e-ink readers is the only viable path to maintain the Nook platform beyond third-party apps. Considering this, it makes better sense if Barnes & Noble revamped their out-dated e-reader firmware and offered better options beyond their only dedicated e-reader (Nook Glowlight). May be offer a 9 inch e-reader and another budget six inch one, similar to the Nook Simple Touch. However, we can predict, considering the trajectory of the Nook platform, that nothing will be heeded from Kobo and what will be made available is another standard six inch reader successor to the Nook Glowlight, barely keeping up with what is being offered by Amazon and Kobo, along with the Tab S2.