Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 4 with Pearl Pink Review
Barnes and Noble has just done something they have never done before. They have released a variant color for the Nook Glowlight 4, Pearl Pink. The back platting of the e-reader is pink and the front of the unit is white, instead of black on the regular model. This is basically a fresh coat of paint that makes it unique and likely a hit with women. B&N disclosed to Good e-Reader that pre-orders have been off the charts and it is likely that most bookstores won’t even receive the hardware, only their largest bookstores will get any sort of inventory. The bookseller is already gearing up for the holiday season and if pre-orders are still strong in a couple of weeks, it is likely they will replenish their stock with another big order from their manufacturer, Netronix.
Why did Barnes and Noble go with Pink instead of another color? Apparently they made a bunch of color combinations and evaluated them internally, but also sent them to bookstores all over the United States. Pearl Pink was the clear winner and most of the staff loved the color, so B&N decided to go with that for now. I think it is very likely that in the future, more Nooks will have different color combinations, which is something most of their competition does not do. Amazon for example, only gives a black or white option on the Kindle.
Did Barnes and Noble do anything different with the Nook Glowlight 4, other than changing the back of it to pink and the front to white? In short, no. The hardware is exactly the same as the model that came out a couple of years ago, the software too is mostly the same. However, B&N has been issuing firmware updates every couple of weeks lately, as they are finally taking software stability seriously, which has typically been slow and sluggish.
The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 4 features a 6-inch E INK Carta HD display with a resolution of 1072×1404 and 300 PPI. The screen is not flush with the bezel and instead has a sunken screen. There is an all-new screen protector installed on the factory level, which helps protect the plastic e-paper display. This was a good move by B&N because it absorbs light and does not reflect it like glass based screens. When you are reading ebooks, the text looks crisper than the Kobo Sage or Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation.
There are series of white and amber LED lights, so you can control the front-lit display and color temperature system. This will be customized with a two slider bars in the settings menu. The front-lit display can only be tuned to automatically turn on, at specific time of day. It does not have an ambient light sensor, instead it relies on the time of day. There are physical page turn buttons on both sides of the screen, and they curl inwards, towards the back. At the bottom of the unit, is the home button, this is denoted by the N. If you press it, you will go back to the home screen, if you hold it for a couple of seconds, the front-lit display will turn on.
Underneath the hood is an Allwinner B300 quadcore 1.5 GHZ CPU processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. You will be able to charge the reader with a USB-C cable, this is the first time B&N has ever employed a modern port on any of their E INK devices. It has Bluetooth 5.1 and WIFI 802.11 b/g/n to connect to the online bookstore, to purchase and download ebooks. Barnes and Noble has hotspots in all of their bookstores, which you can also browse books. However, dispite the Bluetooth connection, there is no real way to take advantage of it, which is sad. The bookseller sells audiobooks individually, but they also have a subscription program. They don’t allow for the purchase of audiobooks on their apps for Android or iOS, the only way you can buy them is to visit the website, buy the audiobook and sync it to the app, which needless to say is full friction and not user friendly. I would love for B&N to allow for the purchasing of audiobooks right on the Nook, since it is running Android and developing a media player wouldn’t be that hard. Kindle and Audible does this on Kindle e-readers, and has been for a number of years now. B&N has the catalog of audiobooks, the Nook is running Android and all the pieces are their to take advantage of their existing infrastructure. I just hope they eventually roll this out, as there are plenty of users that would buy audiobooks on the Nook, since you can buy and listen on the same piece of hardware.
The Nook has the ability to sideload in your own personal collection of digital content. It officially supports EPUB and PDF, you can also buy ebooks from other bookstores in these two formats and load them in via Adobe Digital Editions, since both formats handle digital rights management (DRM.) You can also borrow books from the public library with Overdrive. Barnes and Noble only reserves around half their internal storage for the sideloading of digital content, so you won’t be able to fill up your entire device with your own personal collection. You should get around four weeks of usage, thanks to the 1400 mAh battery.
A new coat of pink paint and a white frame, really makes this e-reader stand out in a crowd. It is being billed as a Limited Edition, so if you really like this color scheme, I would recommend buying it from the Good e-Reader Store for $169.99.
Barnes and Noble has always run Google Android as their primary operating system, but they are running a heavily skinned version of it, so many customers would never even know it. One of the benefits of Android, is the hacking and rooting community, that tends to unlock the e-reader and get new features, such as being able to install apps on it. Since this is so new, none exist yet, but there should be a few solutions over time. This model is using Android 8.1, the previous generation Nook Glowlight 3 is using Android 4.4.
The main home screen displays the last 3-4 books you have added to your device, have purchased or sideloaded. Beneath that are recommended ebooks from B&N, based on the content in your library. The button navigation includes a link to your library, shop, the book you are currently reading, Nook Readouts and Search.
Let’s talk about the major navigation elements. The library button will take you to the main screen where all of your content is listed. By default, it shows everything you have ever downloaded. This will include ebooks, magazines, newspapers and PDF files. You can just have it display specific content or establish collections. Collections are important if you have a huge collection. You can make genre-based ones, or books by a particular author. When you make a collection, it will bring you back to the library screen where you can tap on all of the books you want moved to the collection. You can also sort by cover art or list view.
The Store looks really good on the 6 inch screen, nothing is condensed and it is organized properly. There is an image carousel near the top of the screens, which shows cover art based on ebooks the Nook editors are showcasing. Beneath that are a bunch of text-based bars that will take you to dedicated sub-sections. This includes New York Times Best Sellers, Nook Bestsellers, Nook editors’ picks, and others like Romance, Erotica and Autobiographical. When you click on a book to find out more information there are options to purchase, download a sample, or place a pre-order. By default, it lists the book data by the publisher and also has a few tabs that show reviews written by readers, recommended reads based on the book and book details, such as the number of pages.
Barnes and Noble Nook Readouts is a digital news platform, where everyday a series of interviews and book reviews are made available. There is a section in the platform called Serial Reads, which is basically serialized fiction, available to be read for free. Every Friday there are a few ebooks given away for free. The Search feature basically allows you to type in an author’s name, or book title and it either loads it in your library if you own it, or calls up the store listing.
On the top right corner of the Nook is an illumination icon, WIFI and battery life. If you click on it, it will engage in a dropdown menu. Here, you can establish your wireless network and also get a percentage of the battery life remaining. There are 2 slider bars for the front-lit display with white LED lights and another for the color temperature system with amber LED lights. You can just use the white ones, amber ones or do a blend of the two. E-Readers do not emit blue light, from behind the screen like your smartphone or tablet. The lights are positioned alongside the sides of the bezel to project evenly across the screen. The warm light is ideal for reading at night, where you don’t want to disturb your sleeping partner.
The software system overall is polished. Somethings when you hit a software driven key, like the store, it is easy to accidentally hit the library or Nook Readouts, this is because there is not a big space between the UI elements. I also have fat fingers, so this might contribute to it. Navigating between screens or hitting various setting options load quickly.
When it comes to reading ebooks, this device has a number of preloaded fonts to choose from. They are Mundo Sans, Baskerville, Georgia, Ascender Sans, Malabar and Joanna Sans. You can also select Publisher Default, which displays the font selected by the publisher, but not all publishers have a recommend font in their metadata. Line Spacing has three different selections; Single, 1.5 and Double Spacing. The margins also have three options – Narrow, Medium and Wide.
Next to the font adjustment button there is a catchall setting. It lists the table of contents, displays all of the words or paragraphs you have highlighted, view multiple bookmarks or checkout all of the various words you have looked up in the internal dictionary. If you are reading an ebook and highlight a single word, it will list the definition of the word in the bottom of the screen. There is a more button, which launches the dictionary and provides a few pages on definition and how it is used in a sentence.
You can also highlight a word, or a paraph, add a note, which launches the standard Android QWERTY keyboard, which I think is better laid out than Kobo keyboards. You can also share a word or paragraph via social media.
The Nook Glowlight 4 does a really good job when reading ebooks. Page turns are really fast, and you can hold down on the page turn buttons to rapidly turn pages forward or backwards. You can use swipes or taps to turn the pages of a ebook or just hit the manual buttons. The page turn buttons are both on the right and left side, which appeals to right and lefthanded users.
There are only two formats the Nook can read, EPUB and PDF. They also read the DRM versions of these files too. If you want to sideload in your own ebooks, there is only 5GB allocated for this type of content, the rest is partitioned for purchases or downloads from the Nook Bookstore. You can shop at other online retailers, as long as they sell their content in EPUB, which is the most popular book format. All you need to do, is visit the settings menu and enter your Adobe Digital Editions login and password, if you do not have a login and password, you can visit the website to register. You need to download the free software and then you can use this to transfer DRM content to your Nook, you can do the exact same thing with library books from Overdrive.
Barnes and Noble sells manga in EPUB and look really good on the six-inch display, taking up almost the entire screen, with very few boarders. Manga is a huge seller for them in their retail stores. Their digital editions are similar, but they have a wider selection online, since they are not constrained by the size of the section of their stores. You will be able to find all of the latest bestsellers, but also lesser known works. If you like reading manga, there is always something new to discover or some random unknown series finally get the anime treatment, so the books enjoy a resurgence in popularity. The online catalog has basically the entire collections from VIZ, Yen Press and Kodansha. When reading manga, you will get the same options as reading ebooks, in terms of being able to adjust fonts, and line spacing, but there are a few extra options. You can pinch and zoom if some of the text boxes are too small.
This e-reader is really new, the Nook Glowlight 4 came out last Christmas. So, if you want to buy the new Pink model, with a white front, this is a good time to do it. It is very early in its generational cycle and there are all sorts of cool cases you can buy on their booksellers website, as well as 3rd party markets. I am beginning to find my love of the Nook again, the entire Nook team is really bullish about its future and everyone really wants to make this work. This stems from the new CEO mandating that e-readers and ebooks should be just as important as selling physical books, the real purpose is to get people reading. I think reading is critical, one of the benefits of the Nook is buying an ebook in your pajamas or having a pre-order automatically delivered at midnight, so you can spend the whole night reading. If you have taken some time off of the Nook ecosystem, due to buggy software or from them being out of date, the Pearl Pink Nook deserves a second chance.