Fondle: Barnes & Noble Nook

I went in search of a Kindle 3 at Best Buy and wound up finally encountering a functioning Barnes & Noble Nook.

It was alive, not a demo model, and hooked up to WiFi! Wheeee!

It didn’t, you know, have any damned sample books on it, so I had to satisfy myself with tooling through the menus, playing with the touchscreen, page turn controls, and reading typo-filled descriptions of books available for purchase.

But, there was a big surprise in store for me. This Nook was running version 1.4 of the software. And, BAM!, it had a beta web browser in it!

See some pics after the break:

Someone at Best Buy is into celebrities. When I called up the web browser, it went straight to a celebrity site:

But look at that! What a shock. It’s acting just like the Alex Reader! Mirroring the website in both screens. The lower color screen is used to navigate the site, by dragging it around.

And lookee here:

It’s Twitter! And this presented the first problem with the browser. Apparently it’s not sending out any indication that it’s a mobile browser. So every damn site sends the full frikkin desktop webpage! I couldn’t find any damn way to move around because the keyboard was there for a Search box I didn’t want. I would have liked to have done at least one tweet from a Nook!

And here is proof positive that the browser isn’t letting on to sites that it’s a mobile version:

That’s this site. With iOS’s mobile Safari, WordPress sends out the mobile version of this site, not that.

Some things about the Nook:

1) It’s a damned nice piece of tech. Solid build, doesn’t feel cheap, and the color screen really makes it stand out against its competition.

2) Version 1.4 of the software is most likely what it should have been introduced with. I didn’t find the page refresh to be sluggish, like an earlier fondle last year.

3) The white plastic really makes the eInk screen pop. Nearby was a silver Sony Pocket Edition (the prior 300 model) and the Nook’s screen was brighter. That said, the Nook screen still had the cast of wet newsprint (the Kobo Reader actually has a brighter screen!). I’d like to see it combined with a Pearl screen.

4) The touchscreen was responsive. I didn’t find any sluggishness that’d make me go mad. That said, it’s not an iOS device, but it’s not any of those craptastic Android devices out there at low-rent prices that are sluggish.

5) I could type on the color screen just fine. I made one error because I looked at the eInk screen. Don’t do that when typing! The delay will drive you insane. Just type.

6) I’d like to slap Len Riggio for not using his own product. His 19th-century company leapfrogged the competition with something better (at the time) and he ignores it. What a schmuck!

7) Everything I’ve seen so far from the Barnes & Noble proxy fight indicates to me that the company hasn’t even thought of going international with the Nook. This means it will eventually die, having been surrounded and smothered by the internationally-marketed Amazon Kindle, Kobo Reader, and Sony Reader. The Nook can’t survive as a US-only product, period.

8) Abandon your damned mutant version of Adobe DRM, Barnes & Noble. You are your own worst enemy as long as you continue that.

So, Nook = good. But a Pearl screen would be a huge improvement.


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