Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review: New Nook Glowlight Plus [2019]



The Nook Glowlight Plus is Barnes & Noble’s best e-reader they’ve ever released. It successfully combines the best things of the two previous e-reader models, the original Nook Glowlight Plus and the Nook Glowlight 3, with nearly no downsides.

Let’s talk software, because this is easily the weakest link for this device.

For those who like to check out ebooks from their local library, they’ll still have to go through the old-fashioned and laborious way of Adobe DRM. When compared against its direct e-reader competition, Kobo and Kindle, this leaves the Nook with a serious disadvantage. And honestly, the only major criticism one can have against their devices.

The last two years, Barnes & Noble have slowly been integrating the iOS/Android apps, website, and Nook together. Normally, this only related to reviews being cross-platform. But advancements have been made with integrating wishlists and creating a unified user interface between all of them.

The speed of the new Nook Glowlight Plus is faster than previous models, although I would say not significantly so. E-readers have essentially peaked a few years ago, removing the constant flashing screens and allowing faster page turns. From time to time, there are hang ups that last a few seconds longer than usual, but for the most part, all e-readers run just fine.

One of the major upgrades to the Nook Glowlight Plus was the inclusion of a headphone jack and Bluetooth connection for Barnes & Noble Podcasts. When the headphone jack was revealed, most people thought Barnes & Noble was combining their audiobook app, Nook Audiobooks, into the Nook store proper.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of listening to audiobooks on an e-reader, especially when we have phones more readily available and with more storage than an e-reader. With the Nook Glowlight Plus’s 8GB of storage, it would also be a tight fit. Thankfully, podcasts are much more reasonably sized.

The B&N Podcasts can be found in Readouts, either on the first or second page. If you’ve never listened to B&N Podcasts, give them a shot. They are very relaxing and enjoyable to listen to; with a large selection of fiction, non-fiction, comics, fantasy, science fiction authors.

Lastly on the software, no major issues with sideloading epubs. I put two books on without any issues, although some types of PDFs are reported not to display correctly.

Now to the hardware.

The selling feature of this device is the screen, coming in at 7.8 inches. Like the Nook 10.1 tablet before it, the screen is going to sell it for the user. The high resolution screen means all the text is just as clear as previous Nooks. A bigger screen means more text, regardless of the size.

Barnes & Noble knows who their audience is. If you check out the commercial B&N made, it’s clearly for those who want to read bigger text more comfortably.

The new Nook Glowlight Plus shares the same model as the Glowlight 3. This is black, rubberized e-reader with physical page turn buttons. This was a smart choice. The Glowlight 3 was comfortable and returned with everyone’s favorite feature other makers have removed (physical buttons).

Night mode also returns, without the trade-off of waterproofing. Color temperature screens are becoming the norm on nearly all tablets and electronics, turning the screen warmer automatically or manually. In my comparisons between the new Nook Glowlight Plus and the Glowlight 3, I found they had the same consistency and intensity of light, both cold and warm.

The Nook Glowlight Plus carries an iPx7 rating, meaning the e-reader is tested to go 3ft underwater for 30 minutes. This is peace of mind for anyone reading in the bathtub, pool, or beach. If the e-reader is dropped, a quick rinse and dry is all that’s needed. This was the best feature of the original Plus, and it’s nice to see it back.

With a price tag of $199, this puts the Nook Glowlight Plus in the high-end range of e-readers, alongside the Kindle Oasis and Kobo Forma. It also means it’s the most affordable of all the high-end e-readers. Outside of this price range, only 6 inch screens exist among the mainstream e-reader manufacturers.

In all honesty, if the price was any higher, I don’t know if I would have purchased the Glowlight Plus. The screen is better, but the previous models of Glowlight still remain quality e-readers, and can be had for much less than MSRP. Hopefully this turns out to be the sweet spot for bigger screened e-readers, as more people can enjoy the advantages of e-ink over LCD screens.

Here is my use-case for the Glowlight Plus. I own over 350 Nook books, partly because their wishlist system helps me easily spot deals. My Calibre library is filled with over 460 DRM ebooks. For me, checking books from the library is not a priority.

Here is what I think of the Nook Glowlight Plus. It does the essential job of reading well. It has all the niceties we come to expect from devices (Night mode and waterproofing). At the current price, it’s hard to find that many criticisms of it.

4 out of 5