Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kindle Touch vs. Nook Simple Touch: Battle of the E-Readers

After much consideration, I decided to get a dedicated e-reader.  Some of this had to do with cost--I didn't exactly have $500 to spend on an iPad just to use for reading.  Plus I like the look of the new Pearl e-ink and the non backlit nature of the dedicated e- readers.  The final consideration was weight--I needed something light which would be easy to hold for a long period of time.  

Figuring that Amazon would ultimately prevail in the long run given its recent sales of the Kindle Fire and its aggressive marketing strategies, I decided to get the Kindle Touch.  The design of the device is gorgeous.  It feels well made, the angles on it are nice, and holding it is comfortable.  The e-ink screen had nice, clear text.  Plus it can refresh the page every six pages, unlike the older generation Kindle Keyboard, which refreshes after every page, causing a flash which can be distracting.  

I used the Kindle for a few weeks.  I found myself enjoying the experience.  It was great to have dozens of books on file, and I could borrow books from the library already in the Kindle format.  Unfortunately, the Kindle has one major,  fatal flaw--the firmware is terrible.  So terrible, in fact, that I had to return my Kindle after researching the problems further.  When you attempt to search for a book, sometimes the Kindle will lock up and give an error message that says "Unable to Start Application."  Once this happens, nothing can fix your Kindle.  You can't hit escape, you can't reboot, nothing.  The only thing that works is deleting all your books and starting over.  It is terribly frustrating.  Apparently Amazon must have been in a rush to get this device out, because the firmware is so dreadful the thing should not be sold as is.  Hoping to keep my Kindle, I looked online for a firmware update from Amazon.  As of now, none is to be found.  

This wasn't the only problem with the firmware, however.  Another problem is that sometimes the Kindle Touch will simply delete the contents of your books.  You can see the titles and go into the books, but nothing is there.  It is bad.  The last time this happened to me, I could not restore my library.  My Kindle Touch was bricked.  I had to return it.

Deciding to fight another day, I bought a Nook Simple Touch.  After having some time to review it, I can say that this device is much, much better than the Kindle Touch.  First, it has expandable memory, so it can hold up to 32 gb of storage.  This means about 64,000 books.  So theoretically you could have your own public library with you, and portable, too!

Second, the firmware is solid.  The device has yet to lock up or give me a device error message.  Having been out longer, there was even a firmware upgrade that I downloaded that made the text even more clear and dark, and sped up the Nook by quite a bit.  In fact, I could flip pages and navigate through the menus at least twice as fast as the Kindle Touch.  This was great.  I also liked the graphical user interface of the Nook a little more.  You have the option of viewing your books both as a list and as titles, which is like looking at a real bookshelf.  To flip pages, the Nook offers the ability to tap, swipe, or press physical buttons on the side of the device, which is an improvement over the Kindle's touch only method.  

The design of the Nook isn't as beautiful as that of the Kindle Touch.  It has sharper edges and while all the pieces and parts are okay, it isn't like the Kindle, which feels like it is crafted out of a block of pure metal.

Having a reader that gets out of the way and lets you read instead of bricking itself is refreshing, however.  For this reason, I recommend the Nook Simple Touch and don't recommend the Kindle Touch until a firmware upgrade that solves its problems is released.

Winner:  Nook Simple Touch

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