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12/15/2009

A ‘nook’ of initial thoughts

Playing with the NookSo the nook arrived last Friday afternoon and although my weekend was far too busy with holiday shopping, parties and preparation, I finally did get around to playing around with the device yesterday. My initial reactions are a lot like the criticisms hailed by the NY Times last week, but even so I’ve got to say that I think the device, once refined a bit more, has a lot of potential. Here’s my take on the good and the bad:4

Navigation Screen:
(the small full color strip along the bottom)
The Good -- I really like the layout, navigation and user friendliness of the small color touch screen. Unlike the 1st generation of the Kindle, whose clunky roller navigation functionality took me some time to get use to, the nook’s first attempt at navigation is very initiative and easy to use.

The Bad -- The screen’s responsiveness to touch is a bit hit or miss. Sometimes it works great, other times, there seems to be no response at all. Exiting backwards seems to help if things get stuck. But overall the touch screen responsiveness is slow.

Reader Screen:
The Good -- The size of the screen is fine and the e-ink text is easy to read.

The Bad -- between every page refresh, the screen seems to have to flash to reverse (black) before refreshing to new text – I find this very distracting to my eyes.

Functionality:
The Good --I found downloading a title very easy to do and it also seemed very quick to me. I was able to download a full 220 pg book in just over minute. The screen prompts are simple and easy to follow. Also page forward and backward on found on both sides of the screen, making it easy for one-handed reading & page turning.

The Bad -- Text font sizes. According to survey’s the average Kindle purchaser is over 50. In conversations I’ve had with Kindle owners, I’ve come to learn that a big part of the appeal is the ability to be able to read books in large print type without having to carry around a bulky large-print book. The text size on the nook seems to come in three standard sizes and to me the “large” still seems a little small. (I keep thinking of my grandfather, an avid reader, being able to read from the nook without the additional use of a magnifying glass –I can’t).

Lend Me:

Although I wasn’t able to try out this functionality completely - haven’t run into another nook owner yet) I did find access to it very easy. This new functionality for an ereader really intrigues me and as this type of functionality matures, I’m beginning to imagine library customers becoming transformed as some type of library circulation agents lending titles that they have downloaded from our collections to family and friends.


Anyway, there’s still a lot that I haven’t played with fully on the nook (digital audio books and the ability to upload music files for example) and since the OS in Android, Google’s mobile operating system, I’m also curious to see what apps may be developed and exploited to work on the nook, making it potentially more than the just an ereader.

So anyway, that’s my early and initial reactions. I’ll post more later when I can. In the meantime, I believe I’m now off the ‘nook’ on getting this post done. :)

1 comment:

David said...

I came across this post on Penny Arcade (an online gamer comic site) that is quite apt here. Especially their take on the Lend Me feature, which I believe is much more accurate a depiction than most other reviews I've read.

"Though far from the only electronic reader available, the Kindle is deeply representative of the form - iconic in a way, an attempt to maneuver the concept from fetish totem to something which at least resembles mainstream usage. Reading reviews of the Nook, particularly the comments which follow these reviews, it's clear that the Nook is perceived as some kind of fur-heaped Hun aggressor. I've had positive Kindle experiences, but I was not aware that it had reached the iPod's "default status," whose virtue must be vigorously defended from pagans and outlanders.

The Zune parallels are pretty strong. One of the ways Microsoft chose to distinguish their doodad from the iPod (and other players, but let's be serious) was via its "Social" metaphor. Years later, the metaphor has been extended to the Web, where things like that are much more likely to happen, which is to say "happen at all." But the idea itself isn't bad, or wrong, it is in fact good, but anyone who attempted to leverage this feature discovered something very quickly: that the ability to share, considered a core asset of the device, was wholly dependent on the publisher's say-so. Some files would share and others wouldn't, and you often didn't know which was which until you'd committed to sending one. The usage limitations on shared files were considered fairly draconian, but they weren't draconian enough for some rights holders, who believe the very notion of borrowing gnaws at the roots of their enterprise. So, too, with the Nook's LendMe feature - cool conceptually, it allows One Lend for a single Two Week Period, and even this crushing prison is considered too charitable for some.

This came up when we were playing online the other night. I mentioned to Gabe that the LendMe feature didn't extend to all books, and he was surprised to learn this, as "lending" a book digitally removes it from your device. It is, in many ways, like lending a person a real book. I suggested to him that this was precisely what they didn't like - you have to warp your mind to perceive it, to understand why a publisher of books would hate the book as a concept, but there you have it. They don't like that books are immutable, transferable objects whose payload never degrades. A digital "book" - caged on a device, licensed, not purchased - is the sort of thing that greases their mandibles with digestive enzymes.

Imagine what these people must think of libraries."

www.penny-arcade.com