Reviewers: The Nook Needs Some Work

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The Nook, Barnes & Noble's belated e-book reader has landed in the hands of several high-profile reviewers, and most are not exactly thrilled with the device. Reaction ranges from calling it "a mess" to complaints about sluggish software and half-baked features.

Barnes & Noble announced the Nook with plenty of fanfare earlier this fall, and -- on paper, at least -- the device looks like it has all the potential to be an Amazon Kindle killer (the main device it competes with).

But since its announcement, Barnes & Noble has delayed the launch of the Nook for both deliveries and in-store appearances. Those who pre-ordered a Nook shortly after it was annoucned in October should receive their device sometime this week, but others won't be able to get the device until after the holidays.

Reviewers React

Product delays aside, most reviewers say the Nook feels rushed to the market.

PC World contributor Harry McCracken has a detailed review of the Nook, in which he concludes that it "has the potential to decisively trump the Kindle, but I want to see if Barnes & Noble's upcoming software update fixes the issues I encountered before I declare any winners."

Picking up on those software bugs, New York Times' David Pogue simply calls the Nook "a mess." In his review, Pogue highlights several faults with the Nook: a "balky and nonresponsive" touch screen, the long time the E Ink display needs to refresh (three times longer than the Kindle he writes), long loading times for books and bookstore, lack of progress indicators, and poor Wi-Fi connectivity.

USA Today's Edward C. Baig also picks on several faults with the Nook. He writes about the "growing pains" he experienced, again mentioning software bugs, long loading times to flip pages or load books, and overall sluggishness.

Computerworld's Matt Hamblen mentioned similar problems in his Nook review as well, while Engadget's Joshua Topolsky oscillated between "being completely charmed by the aesthetics of the reader, and completely frustrated by the way it actually works".

Nook Software Update Coming Next Year

The Barnes & Noble Nook has (on paper) a few advantages over the Amazon Kindle: a second color touch screen display, expandable storage, a replaceable battery, Wi-Fi connectivity, and book lending options, to name a few.

On the down side, the Nook is heavier than the Kindle, and lacks a Web browser, screen rotation functionality, and the ability to read text aloud. It has also been noted that books for the Nook are often more expensive than for the Kindle.

However, the biggest flaw of the Nook is the half-baked software running the device, as most reviews have mentioned. Barnes & Noble says most of these bugs will be addressed as part of a software upgrade next year, when the device will be shipping for those who haven't pre-ordered last month.

If you are in the market for an electronic reader, and you are not convinced yet by either the Kindle or the Nook, then you might be better off waiting for the mythical Apple tablet, if the rumors come true, of course.

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