Lately I’ve found myself at Barnes &’ Noble a lot. For one thing, it’s the closest, least crowded place with fast, free Wifi near my house. Plus, they don’t seem to mind if I bring my own coffee into their store. I’ve found myself there on most of my Mother’s Day Out days when I need to do some focused writing.
They also have a great kids’ area. Yesterday when I forgot it was a state holiday, we couldn’t go to the library so we headed to Barnes &’ Noble where Little Sir played with their Thomas the Tank Engine train table for at least 20 minutes straight (which is a record for him).
This past weekend, Christian and I were blessed with an overnight date night getaway by my parents, who came into town to stay with the kids. After we had an early sushi dinner, we found ourselves at Barnes &’ Noble looking at books and reading things to each other. We used to love to do this while we were dating.
While we were there, I got to try out several of the demo Nook reader options. I have a Kindle and Christian has an iPad, so I guess I expected the Nooks to work similarly. At least, that’s what I thought I’d heard.
Boy, was I disappointed! From what I could gather without the help of anyone at the store (the first time there was no one around and the second time there was an employee there who made it clear that she had no idea how these things worked, and couldn’t actually make a sale either, even though another customer was trying to buy one. I guess that employee was just required to stand beside the Nooks?), there appear to be three levels of Nook: the SimpleTouch, the Color, and the Tablet. I could not tell the difference between the Color and the Tablet by playing with them. Apparently the difference is the memory and the additional capabilities of the Tablet.
The touchscreen response of the Nook Color and Tablet both seemed seriously under par in comparison to iPad and iPhones. Half the time, no matter how hard you tapped on something, the screen didn’t respond or it responded by overcompensating. Christian and I both tested this poor response on multiple demos by attempting to play the Ms PacMan game that came on the machine. It was literally impossible to play the game with such a poor touch response.
In all 3 of the models, the usability of the menu navigation was terrible. At least with the SimpleTouch, the navigation was a lot like the Kindle so I was able to figure out how to least read a book. But with the Color and the Tablet, I never could figure out how to close an app that I was using. There was no “X” inside the app and the “home” button only took you to different parts of the app itself, never to the home screen or a menu.
I would like to give you a more in-depth analysis of the Nook models but honestly, I gave up after about 10 minutes. If I have to spend more than 10 minutes figuring out how something works, or if it requires me to take a class or read a manual, that is not a well designed device. I’m afraid that owning Apple products has spoiled me in that regard. I know that easy-to-use, flexible products are possible so I am not willing to waste my time learning more confusing products.
If you have a Nook, feel free to defend it but for me, I’m happy with my Kindle, even if it is a 1st generation model.
And Barnes &’ Noble: I still love you, despite your inability to create a good e-reader. I will see you again on Thursday!