Geek Gifts 2010: Barnes and Noble nook e-reader

Derek Schauland added a new gadget to his collection. Find out how he likes the Barnes & Noble nook e-reader.

Readers have had a host of choices recently when it comes to digital books, all of which have had their benefits, including paper-like displays, wireless radios, and 3G. One of the newer reader gadgets is the nook by Barnes and Noble. With a touch navigation screen and a reading screen with great clarity, the nook is sure to be a hit with readers and technology lovers alike.

Product features

  • Available with 2GB internal memory
  • Cost: $259
  • Size: 6" diagonal
  • Navigation size: 3.5"
  • Resolution: 960 x 240 pixels (8G); 528 x 132 pixels (4G)
  • Color touch screen for navigation
  • AT&T 3G wireless
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • USB connection
  • Removable/Rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • Built in audio player
  • Dictionary included for word lookup
  • Up to 10 hours reading time on full battery charge
  • 10 - 14 days standby with wireless turned off
  • Airplane mode for travel
  • Auto sleep mode to conserve battery
  • Expandable micro SD memory slot
  • Integration with Barnes and Noble Online account and eBookstore
  • Additional accessories are available
  • Check out this image gallery of the nook.

What I like

The nook has a very readable display and is very easy to navigate. The hard page-turning buttons on the side of the device are very simple to use. You can also navigate by using a color touch screen along the bottom.

The nook supports bookmarking and will also remember the furthest point you read in a book or a magazine. You can download PDF documents and other files from your computer on to your device via its USB connection and manage them in the My Documents folders so you can keep them organized and separate from your downloaded book titles.

You can add e-books to your nook that you already own in other formats or buy books on the nook directly using the online capabilities. When you want to download a purchased book, simply visit the Shop menu on the Navigation screen and scroll down the page (using the navigation arrows in the Navigation screen) to check for BN content. Selecting this option will check in with the bookstore for new content in your account and download any titles that are found. The download process takes about a minute and works very well from almost everywhere.

What I don't like

The nook library for books is quite extensive, using a library powered by Barnes & Noble. It also includes books indexed by Google books, which are available free of charge; however, the titles available for free and the periodicals available on the site are quite limited. As of now there are very few technical manuals or books available in the library for the nook. Once more of these become available, the device will be even more worthwhile.

Geek bottom line

The nook is a great reader and has slimmed down considerably the amount of space my library consumes. When traveling, the amount of reading you can do without carrying an armload of books is fantastic. Anyone who reads a lot for enjoyment, especially fiction and periodicals, might want to consider a nook. Being small and lightweight with a huge storage capacity, it is very convenient and saves physical space.

It may be worth holding off if you primarily read very technical books and manuals, as there are few of those titles in the e-bookstore. This is a similar case to other devices like the nook. I expect that these titles will begin to be available before long.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: *
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.