Nook 1.2 Impressions

Last Friday I installed the 1.2 update to my Barnes & Noble nook ebook reader. Since then I have been using my nook and I thought I would share with you my impressions of the new software. When the nook first shipped in mid December 2009 the early reviews were very negative, mostly because of slow page refreshes and the slow response of the capacitive touch screen. I decided to buy the nook because I expected B&N to provide software updates to address the problems, and I think this second release of the nook software in a matter of weeks meets that expectation.

Page refreshes are now faster on the nook than when I first bought it, and the touch screen is now more responsive. The UI on the nook has also been updated slightly to make the buttons more three dimensional, making it easier for me to navigate the screen. You tap buttons on the touchscreen to navigate the cursor on the larger e-ink screen, and previously there was a noticeable delay between when you tap a button and the cursor moving. After the 1.2 update I find that the cursor moves much sooner.

One area that still needs improving is highlighting. To select text to highlight one must tap buttons that are displayed in a circle and I find the buttons to be too small. I think it would be better if the buttons were in an upside down T configuration like the cursor keys on many keyboards, but regardless of the configuration the buttons must be larger. The nook also needs to provide an overview of the highlights and notes that you add to a book. Right now you have to scroll through the pages and look for highlights. A work-around is to create a bookmark whenever highlighting as the nook does provide a way to jump between bookmarks. The nook currently does not synchronize bookmarks, highlights, or notes with other versions of the B&N eReader applications, and this is a feature I really would like to see implemented soon.

Finally, I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble to see what additional in-store features have been added. The update notes says there is enhanced in-store connectivity and additional More In Store content. When I was at the store on Saturday I did not see any additional content beyond what I had seen in previous visits. Another feature we heard about when the nook was originally announced is the ability to read full copies of any book while you are in the store, and this feature is still not available.

Barnes & Noble will finally have nooks available for sale in their stores this week, and the devices that you buy in the store should already have the 1.2 update applied. If you want to see whether your local store has devices to sell, you can check for availability on their web site at barnesandnoble.com.