Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The B & N nook, a New Owner's Perspective in Three Parts [Part 2, Capabilities and Ease of Use]

The Barnes and Noble e-reader, the nook, is my new toy--or as a teacher, writer, and avid reader, perhaps I should say my new, advanced, professional technology. 

I have owned the nook less than a week but have spent considerable time exploring its capabilities to ensure that it fits my needs. (The Best Buy time frame for returning a product is two weeks.)

I'm not going to discuss basic operations and capabilities. "Kate" at Barnes and Noble does a great job, so watch the 3-minute video. Click the tab that's below the photo of the nook on the Barnes and Noble site.

Although the first few days was a rocky slope, I am now satisfied with my purchase of the nook. 

Its price is less than the iPad and advanced Sony reader, I don't have to pay for the 3G and WiFi capability used for buying and downloading ebooks, and I can (with some conversion steps) download ebooks from varied sources, such as Project Gutenberg.

This evaluation consists of three parts:
  1. First Impressions and Recommendations
  2. Capabilities and Ease of Use
  3. Dollars and Sense
    Capabilities and Ease of Use

    I am still exploring the nook's capabilities, but I like the WiFi and 3G model because I don't have WiFi at my house. Therefore, wherever there is 3G (and according to my wife, an iPhone user, that's a lot of places), the nook will update--that's the daily blog/subscriptions and also downloads.

    I haven't had a chance to play with their beta WiFi internet connection yet. Evidently, I need to ask my local internet cafe for their access code. Go figure.

    My reading access independence requires me to convert files to a nook-ready format. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, this is straightforward, but requires some technical experience and patience. Nobody's (aka Barnes and Noble) calling me on the phone asking if I want to learn how to access books outside of the store. (In all fairness, I imagine this is more the industry trend. Ever try to cancel a credit card or phone account?)

    The nook's user manual also discusses Adobe Digital Editions. Digital Editions mentions the software is usable by the nook. However, the process was not easy for me to figure. I'm sure this is a great resource; I like Adobe products.

    The Calibre program suggested by Jim Cheshire in the ebook Using Nook, was much easier to use, especially with Cheshire's step-by-step instructions. Given time, I'm sure I will also explore the Adobe Digital Editions possibility.

    A last comment on the nook's capabilities:
    • The Daily works easily and provides access to the nook blog, suggested books, and subscriptions.
    • My Library probably will need me at some point to read about organization and folders, but right now with my few books and documents, it's easy to find my reading materials.
    • Shop is too easy. I can load 1,500 books onto the nook, and I've got fewer than twenty . . . careful, Tom!
    • Reading Now is a cool function. What (and where) I was reading last pops up with this tab.
    • Games . . . chess and sodoku. I had trouble castling in the chess game. Probably possible, though.
    • WiFi is on or off and has the ability to enter passwords. There is also the airplane off mode. Better read this before flying.
    • Audio: The nook has an earphone jack--also the power jack. I haven't used this function yet. I teach English Language Learners in my regular classroom. This might be a useful tool for them. Evidently, the nook accepts MP3, so I suppose one could even convert a lecture to MP3 and have it available. (Let me know if this is not accurate. I'm not an experienced audiophile.)
    • Web (beta testing): haven't used it yet. 
    • Settings: set up with main and sub-menus.
    Personalizing: Once I got the hang of the nook's set up, I was able to add my own wallpaper and screensavers to the unit.

    One last point. Several times I have been reading the nook and reached up to actually physically turn the page. I think that's a testimony to the naturalness of the visual experience. Today I also used two rubber bands and strapped the unit to a bicycle exerciser. Turning the page was just touching a button. I couldn't do that with a book.

    Tomorrow I include in my posting more about the nook but expand to ebooks and general comments on the future and environmental sustainability. Hope you finish this series.

    Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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