Vacationing with the new Nook HD

The new Nook HD with color menu

The new Nook HD
with color menu

It seems like every vacation I end up with a new eReader.  The eReader vendors are doing a good job at improving their products, marketing, and pricing their new features so you are willing to put out the bucks for the new version.  And they do make for very nice Christmas presents, not hard to pick out, and something everyone likes.  Thus, I received a new Nook HD for Christmas, started using it, and took it on my vacation to Jamaica.

The Nook HD has a high resolution 7" color screen.  I've noticed that eInk or color eInk has disappeared from the listed features.  It's like you shouldn't worry about the screen any more, but of course, I do.

This little tablet is really a computer, running the Android 4.03 operating system, allowing you to download and run your favorite apps.  It has 13Gb for storing your books or movies.  Books run from 100 to 300Mb, with 300Mb being about 800 pages.  That means, using an average of 250Mb per book, you can store about 52 books on the Nook before you have to archive back to Barnes and Nobles drive, plenty of space.  It has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and yes although only a 7" screen, you can surf the Internet, and send emails just like with a laptop.  I did mention that it has a high resolution of 243 pixels per inch with 16 million colors, which means NetFlix movies look good on the screen, the colors are gorgeous, and the audio comes with dual stereo speakers, volume control buttons, and headphone jacks, even a built in microphone if you want to dictate your next novel.  It's battery is rated at 10.5 hours reading and 9 hours playing videos.  Ok, we've established that the 7.7"x 5" Nook HD is a small 11.1 ounce computer with WiFi.

The new Nook is lighter and thinner than the old Nook and nice to hold in your hand.  We stayed at a hotel that advertised free WiFi.  I sometimes bring my laptop with me on vacation, but why did I need to take my laptop?  I had the Nook HD.  My answer was, I didn't, and I left it at home with out any problems from it not being there.  I wasn't going to work on vacation anyway, so I didn't need a keyboard, and for surfing the Internet, the on-screen keyboard works fine.  What else I didn't have to do was lug the normal five, or six trash novels I read in a week at the beach, they were all safely residing in my Nook.


The old Nook

Since my prior vacations were with the original eInk Nook, and I've waxed on in a couple of articles about color eInk being the next new technology, boy was I wrong about that, it's worth doing a little comparison, since I have spent over a week, or so, using both Nooks over 10 hours a day.  On vacation, I tend to vegge out on the beach, under a canopy, and read all day, while I'm picking up those warm rays, dangling my feet in the warm sea, and watching the woman go by in their string bikinis, life is good.

I digress, OK, so the first thing that stood out, and I couldn't help but notice about the new Nook, was the touch screen.  Wow, it is extremely sensitive and responsive, at times I thought maybe a little too sensitive.  If you compare it to the original Nook, which had a little touch color window at the bottom, the touch sensitivity has improved 10 fold for the better, and the entire screen is touch sensitive, not just a little screen at the bottom.   And since the entire screen is touch sensitive, navigation is easier as you can hyperlink to each chapter and jump back and forth.

The page flipping buttons are gone from the old Nook.  To be honest, after flipping pages continually all day by pressing a button on the old Nook, I found my thumb getting a little sore.  On the new Nook it is done using the touch screen.  You can either swipe like your turning the page on a real book, or tap a side of the screen to turn the page.  This led to some problems when I would accidentally touch the screen and the page would flip.  I wasn't sure if I had tapped the left side to go back, or the right side to go forward.  Sometimes the pages flipped a couple of times which was confusing.  To find out where I was in the book, I had to flip back and forth to find the paragraph I was reading.  I have to admit this was annoying at times, and I found myself trying to be real careful on how I was holding the Nook while I was reading or changing body positions.

What I found disconcerting, at first, while I was reading was the screen kept changing directions.  The new Nook has automatic page orientation depending on how you hold the Nook.  You can hold the Nook horizontally, and have more words across the page, which is just like a normal book, and is pleasant way to read, or if you change the orientation of the Nook to vertical, the Nook will automatically switch the direction of the page.  You can actually spin the Nook a full 360 degrees and the eReader will orient the page on the fly as you turn the Nook.  That was neat at first, but as I flopped around changing my body orientation the Nook would sometimes flip the page when I didn't want it to.  This drove me nuts for a day or so until I realized by simply bringing up a menu with one touch, I could turn off the automatic orientation and freeze the page to one orientation, much better.

And now to what you all want to know.  How was the screen in sunlight?  The old Nook was superb in sunlight, eInk technology was made for sunlit screens, and the old Nook was a joy to read in the sun.  The letters just lit up.  The new Nook not so much so.  I found that in the sunlight I had to increase the brightness to maximum to be able to read.  It was easy to change the brightness, you touch the little menu icon at the top of the screen, the menu pops up, and you slide the brightness to max with a slider control.  But that maximum brightness you use in the sunlight was too bright for the hotel room and I had to turn it down.  I have to rate the old Nook better in the sun, of course.  But the old Nook didn't have a color screen, more a dull grey eInk screen, while the new Nook has a back-lit white screen.  The letters stand out more on the white screen, but are harder to see in the sun, because of that bright whiteness.  Now, to be honest, I was under a canopy, not in direct sun, and once I put the brightness to the maximum, I didn't have a problem reading.

Nook HD open    to a book

Nook HD open
to a book

Pushing up the brightness during the day led to another problem, the battery.  I could gradually watch the battery go down with max brightness.  I could still spend a good seven or eight hours without a problem, but I was more battery conscience than with the old Nook, and found myself plugging the Nook into the USB power adapter every time I went back to the room.  The new Nook has a wider power connector where it hooks to the Nook and I found myself wishing it had the same power jack as the old Nook and my cell phone.  This meant carrying two power cables on vacation.  I had previously purchased a two USB-to-wall socket adapter, so I able to charge each device at the same time.  Although the battery was a worry, I never really had a problem with running out of power.

To wrap this up, the old Nook seems like an old friend that I spent many hours enjoying, and I still know its there, just in case, but the new Nook gradually won me over.  Since I have both, and I still read on both, which one would I take on my next vacation, that's easy, the new Nook.  Yes, it has its quirks, which I talked about in this article, but they were quirks that I got use to.  What eventually won me over was the way the new Nook felt in my hand.  The quality of the print on the page.  The overall quality of the product.  The ease of use of the menu system with the touch screen across the entire screen, not just a small window.  The ease of browsing on the web.  In the end, I just liked the new Nook better.

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