Google Books PDF Death Match 1: Nook HD+

It’s time to get real.

Previously I’ve used Success: A Novel (catch up here) as my Google Books test PDF. Most mainstream devices can now do that. So it’s time to up the ante to the full Monty of what I need a device to do.

I’ve already tried this twice:

Samsung Galaxy S III Test
Second Samsung Galaxy S III Test

I wanted to use the same PDF but problems erupted. I had to use a different issue of The American Magazine. The one in those first two tests was 203MBs. The one in these tests is a whopping 290MBs. How’s that for going nuclear?

If you want to play at home:
Google Books: The American Magazine, Volume 89
Google Docs: American Magazine (for those outside the U.S.)

I will repeat this introduction on all four posts in this series since I doubt people will read all of them.

Now onto the Nook HD+.

Barnes and Noble just did a nuclear bomb price drop of the Nook HD+. Should you buy it? The short answer is No. The long answer is read this post for why.




Not a good sign inside the store. None of the Nook displays highlighted the new sales price!

And here we go, my first encounter with the Nook HD+:


That looks good at first glance, but when you go book reading:


The weak brightness of the screen is revealed. And I checked Settings to make sure I was at max brightness. The brightness is insufficient.

By the way, ignore any grittiness in these photos. That’s interference from the camera sensor. I didn’t bother to apply filters to most of these pics get rid of it. The Nook HD+ has a screen that’s 1920 x 1280 with a PPI of 256. That’s a hell of a lot sharper than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 — but somehow it lacks the eye-pop of the Samsung screen likely due to the weak backlight.

And here I am in Settings, seeing something no one else has mentioned:


Google wants your stuff!

Now to the test. And things get weird right at step one!


After typing “American Magazine” into the search field, I got nothing. The on-screen button wouldn’t register, Go on the keyboard did nothing. I was stuck. It seemed the test wouldn’t happen after all due to this odd problem I’ve never before experienced.

But there’s always a loophole. I was able to actually log into my Google Books account:


And I mistakenly thought this was the issue of The American Magazine I had tested on the Galaxy S III phone:


As explained in the introduction, it wasn’t after all. But after opening it, it became the new Google Books test PDF. Tap to go to:


Tap to open:


And that little blue PDF with down arrow is what I want:


And the l-o-n-g download begins on Barnes & Noble’s dime:


While that cooks, let’s look at the magazine in Chrome:


And whoa! Chrome does something weird yet wonderful:


It automagically magnified that area when I tapped on it and the site didn’t respond! As you’ll see in one of the iPad posts later, this is a feature Apple needs to steal ASAP for Mobile Safari. [Update Wednesday May 8, 2013: As it turns out, in later posts I never mentioned the problem I had with Mobile Safari and a small link because I missed getting a screensnap of that problem. Apple should still steal that feature. It’s needed!]

This page will be used in other posts too:


Pinch-zoom macro photo:



And minutes and minutes later, the download is nearly complete:


And it’s done, down, and in the Library, under My Files:



Tap to select offers this choice:


Well, I already know Polaris Office will be crap. I’ve tried it before. What’s this Reader thing then? Is it the Nook app? I don’t know (HD+ owners feel free to educate me), but I chose it.

And this page means nothing:


And this page likely shouldn’t look like this:


I page ahead and this image was like the Moon landing to me in impact:


Was it really going to display this massive PDF?

Next page:


And here it got stuck. It kept showing the prior page of the book scanning hardware.

But there’s always a loophole (or should be). The thumbnails!



And oh my god, it was really showing this PDF! It might be thumb-sized, but look at that!

Here’s that page previously displayed in Chrome:


My god! It was showing the photos just fine. This was a kind of bombshell.

Big zoom-in:


Lovely illustrations:



And this is another page that will appear in posts:


Let me de-excite you now. Speed was tragic. When I tried to swipe from page to page, there was big delay — without any interactivity to indicate it was processing or even awake and working — and the same delay happened with pinch-zoom. Describing it as sluggish would be generous. It was tragic. All that screen hi-res and no muscle behind it.

What was surprising was the thumbnail view:


Scrolling through it had the kind of snap I was looking for:


And yet I managed to quickly outrun its processing power:


And then the software squawked this at me:




Grrr. I closed it.

Then came back. Look at this:


A magazine from 1920 appearing digitally on a screen! The magic of that will never get old to me.




I hopped from page to page via thumbnail but such good times never last. Reader again squawked:


Well, that was it for me.

I deleted the PDF from the device:



Some of you out there might think this is an unfair test because I wasn’t using software designed for PDFs. Too bad. I can’t use special PDF software on an iPad or any other device in a store. And I’m not going to buy devices to test and then return them. That’s unfair to the seller. This is what demo models are for — and posts like this so people can try it for themselves with PDF software and report in Comments (hint hint).

My overall point now with these Death Match posts is this: Tablet makers are using games as the benchmark of how muscular their devices are. That is nothing but bullshit. GPUs can always be added to get things going. It’s these massive Google Books PDFs that really show what a device can do. This will become crystal clear in the two posts testing the iPad Mini and the iPad 4 (Retina).

So, why not buy the Nook HD+?

Well, aside from this test it’s a damned slow device is why! I asked Nathan of The eBook Reader blog to run AnTuTu on his (which had the same Google Play OS update) and the score was a pathetic 9,361. That is weak. And to compound matters, B&N’s skin over Android brings up a spinning wheel too many times — just in the skin itself! Wut!

Finally, I repeat this bit from the Buying Advice:

When you buy something cheap and bad, the best you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it. When you buy something expensive and good, the worst you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it.

The US$179 sale price might sound like a B*A*R*G*A*I*N but that’s only because in your mind Barnes & Noble anchored its value at US$269.

But guess what? It should have been $179 all along. And it’s true value is even lower. Spend your money somewhere else on something better. As for me, this device held an abstract appeal — until I finally tried it. I’d never buy it.

The Google Books PDF Death Match series of posts:

– Part One: Barnes & Noble Nook HD+
– Part Two: iPad Mini
– Part Three: iPad 4 with Retina Display
– Part Four: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
– Epilogue: Google Books PDF Death Match: Aftermath



Filed under Android, Barnes & Noble Nook, Google Books PDFs

11 responses to “Google Books PDF Death Match 1: Nook HD+

  1. booger

    “The eBook Reader blog to run AnTuTu on his (which had the same Google Play OS update) and the score was a pathetic 9,361”

    Is that pathetic for tablets withing the dual core class?

    • mikecane

      Yes. I’m using the Archos 80 Titanium as the base now and its AnTuTu is in the 11,000s with a dual-core Rockchip CPU.

  2. booger

    The Galaxy Samsung 7 tab 2 have a score of 5,322 according to the folloiwng website:

    The Amazon Kindle fire HD has a score of 6276 according to the following website:

  3. ichabod

    silly all this, PDF can be hugely complex and new power systems.
    and my HD+ is so bright, i need sunglasses and at night welders hood.
    buddy yours was busted.
    mines NIB, today.
    you need to educate yourself on PDF. for sure.

    • mikecane

      Thanks for Commenting, but you really should know what the fuck you’re talking about first. Proper capitalization and punctuation would also help dispel the overwhelming reek of you being a troll idiot.

  4. bhavesh

    SAME PROBLEM HERE..!! can you suggest me other tablets?

  5. Robert Maroon

    I was toying with the idea of buying a chinese tablet with the same panel (or at least the same physical/pixel size).

    Something like the Cube U39GT2, or equivalent. Do you have someone that could test the speed for you? The RK3188 should compensate for the Nook HD+ lack of horsepower…

  6. Wiggy

    I run a version of CyanogenMod on my Nook HD+ and Android 4.2.2
    It is not fast at many things, but with either Adobe or eBook Droid apps, I find it handles large pdf books pretty well (other apps may not work so well). Note the app eBook Droid lets you set various cache sizes and specify how many pages to load simultaneously. It sounds like a Nook HD+ is not your thing, but I would argue that reading pdfs, even large pdf books, is something it does fairly well. If one skips ahead of the cache by many pages, the Nook can take up to 20 seconds to load a new set of pages, but there are worse problems in modern computing. But my point would be, use the best apps you can get. Some pdf apps are poor at displaying large pdf books. And I imagine the gargantuan pdf file will be a dinosaur soon, anyway. Some other ebook technology will supplant its method of reproducing image files. A pdf is just a giant chain of jpegs, basically. As you note, the Nook HD+ has the best screen known to man for a tablet that costs <$150. Its processor-based slowness is more a nuisance in more web-based operations than in any sort of book-reading. I do not play games with it. I got it to read text and do modest web-stuff; it does those things well, and it has excellent bluetooth functions.

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