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Kindle Paperwhite vs. Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

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October 1, 2012

Which of the two glowing eReaders comes out ahead?

Which of the two glowing eReaders comes out ahead?

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E-book readers aren't dead yet. Just when it looked like tablets were about to eat the devices alive, 2012 has shown us exciting breakthroughs. Advances in display technology have made e-readers more advanced and more affordable.

While Apple dominates the tablet market with its iPad, there are two big names competing for your dollars in the dedicated e-book realm: Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. Both have been around for several generations, and have closely followed each others' footsteps.

This year both product lines saw a long-anticipated upgrade: backlit displays. This tech allows for easier reading in low-lit conditions, which was long the Achilles heel of e-readers.

How do Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite and Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight stack up? Let's take a look:

Design & Dimensions

Though it's a bit longer, the Kindle Paperwhite is smaller in every other dimension

Though it's a bit longer, the Kindle Paperwhite is smaller in every other dimension

Though it's slightly longer, the Kindle Paperwhite is the more svelte reader. Most notably, it's significantly thinner than B&N's offering.

It's a bit more stout, but Barnes & Noble put a lot of thought into the Simple Touch's back: it has a soft design that makes it more comfortable to hold.

Weight

The Nook is lighter than the Paperwhite

The Nook is lighter than the Paperwhite

Though the Simple Touch is a larger device, it's lighter than its rival. Neither should be heavy enough to cause problems, but every ounce shed is a bonus for one-handed reading.

Display

The sharper, more evenly-lit display is a huge advantage for the Kindle

The sharper, more evenly-lit display is a huge advantage for the Kindle

This is probably the most important category, and the Kindle Paperwhite runs away with it. Though Amazon doesn't specify its resolution, its 6-inch e-ink display has a much higher pixel density than the Nook's. This will make the black-and-white text look sharper.

Another tick in Amazon's column comes from the backlight technology. Engadget's review notes that the Paperwhite has a more even glow, lending itself more to the advertised illusion of paper. It also has a whiter hue, while the Nook emits a bluish tint.

Both devices sport touch screens, but only the Kindle Paperwhite offers multitouch.

Storage

Internal storage is equal, but the methods of expansion differ

Internal storage is equal, but the methods of expansion differ

Both devices sport 2GB of internal storage. From there, the Kindle offers all the cloud storage you need (for Amazon content), and the Nook's memory can be expanded with a microSD card.

Keep in mind that, since neither device plays video or runs apps, 2GB should be plenty for most people.

Wireless

Amazon offers a (more expensive) option with free 3G

Amazon offers a (more expensive) option with free 3G

Amazon offers a Wi-Fi-only Kindle Paperwhite for US$119, or a version with free 3G for $179. The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, meanwhile, only comes in a Wi-Fi model - also at $119.

Battery

Battery life is outstanding in both cases ... though Amazon's is estimated at much higher

Battery life is outstanding in both cases ... though Amazon's is estimated at much higher

Both e-readers provide terrific battery life, but Amazon boasts of the higher uptime: a mind-boggling two months. These figures are based on reading 30 minutes a day with wireless off and the light on.

Charging Time

Charging is rare, but this is what to expect when you do need to power-up

Charging is rare, but this is what to expect when you do need to power-up

For those rare times when you do need to charge your device, it will take several hours. Barnes & Noble's estimated times are a bit lower than Amazon's.

Intangibles

Amazon cut some corners in order to slap that $119 price tag on the Paperwhite

Amazon cut some corners in order to slap that $119 price tag on the Paperwhite

Okay, so maybe you won't see Billy Mays selling OxiClean, but the Kindle Paperwhite has ads. They aren't intrusive (they're never shown when you're reading), but it will cost $20 to get rid of them. This can be done either at checkout ($139 upfront), or any time after receiving the reader.

Not only is the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight ad-free, but it also features – drumroll please – a charger! This wouldn't normally be anything to write home about, but Amazon's cost-cutting has led Jeff Bezos and company to require a separate $10 purchase for a power adapter. This essentially has the Kindle costing $149 if you want to avoid ads and charge it; the Nook rings up at $119 with an adapter and no ads.

Summing up

Do we have a clear winner? As always, this will come down to your personal preferences. If display is your priority, then the Kindle Paperwhite is probably your pick. If you're miffed by ads, or want the most comfortable device to hold, then you might want to check out the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.

Some image elements sampled from DoobyBrain and Walmart

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
12 Comments

I am not sure what you meant under Storage but the simple touch has access to all your ebook purchases from the b&n 'cloud' just like the kindle.

you 'archive' books you are done reading and they are removed from the device (cover art remains) and re-download them when desired via built in wifi.

Does the kindle have some sort of advantage here?

P.S. this is the first side by side i have seen, thanks.

Jeffrey Puritz
1st October, 2012 @ 10:21 pm PDT

Why does no one who reviews Kindle v. Nook ever talk about the real issue? If you buy a Kindle, you have to buy your ebooks from Amazon; if you buy a Nook, you have to buy your ebooks from Barnes and Noble. How do the prices compare? Selection? Yes, both have hundreds of thousands of titles, but they aren't the same. If I bought the top-100 best selling ebooks on both services, what would the relative cost be?

Steven Gullion
2nd October, 2012 @ 05:06 am PDT

unfortunately the Paperwhite is not being sold in the UK - why not??!?

JPAR
2nd October, 2012 @ 05:47 am PDT

Next thing they ought to do is make them so that you can write notes in the "margins". Or highlight the text. hey - I don't have one, so maybe they already do that. Maybe they could download coloring books for the kids....

KMH
2nd October, 2012 @ 09:55 am PDT

@Steven Guillion most reviewers do not note the differences of the ebook markets because they understand you are not actually bound to them. I buy from both markets, or from other markets, whenever it suits me. You just have to convert the file formats, which is absurdly easy and usually free.

Rion Fish
2nd October, 2012 @ 11:10 am PDT

@ KMH:

I have a Kindle DX. It allows you to highlight text. And, it allows you to see which lines of text other customers have highlighted (thus alerting you to crucial or famous passages.) My kindle also allows me to add notes.

I don't have a Nook. But YouTube has videos describing Nook's highlighting and note functions. See:



PaulW
2nd October, 2012 @ 02:38 pm PDT

Once difference between them is ergonomics. In particular, the Nook has page up/down buttons in its bezel that allow for very efficient reading. It is actually easier to read than a paper book.

As for the kindle vs nook store issue, my experience is that about 6 times out of ten, the same book is available in both stores. About once out of ten times, a book is available on the Kindle store and not on the Nook. And about three times out of ten, neither one has it.

Jon A.
3rd October, 2012 @ 10:46 am PDT

I would want to share my exp. I have bought two kindles and actually seen three kindles, and all of them ended frozen in less than a year, I would call it a bad investiment.....

julian99
3rd October, 2012 @ 12:51 pm PDT

@JPAR Paperwhites (WIFI ONLY) are now available in the UK at Waterstones stores nationwide.

Mark Routledge
11th November, 2012 @ 04:40 am PST

I have had both Kindle keyboard and Nook 1st gen then switched to the Nook Simple Touch. I much prefer the Nook. For starters the customer service rocks!! I also like being able to side load my books and read with out having to go online to pull a book from the "cloud" I am considering a slight upgrade to a lighted model and will have to research carefully. I love that the Nook ST with Glowlight is lit from the top as if a lamp was over your shoulder. I am rather sensitive to the bright back-lit screen on my laptop and am concerned that the Kindle Paperwhite might be similar. Any feedback on this???

Mindy Hartwell
28th November, 2012 @ 07:25 pm PST

@Steven: Kindle and Nook support several formats so you can buy ebooks elsewhere - just not at the competitor's website. You don't even have to buy ebooks for a Nook, because it supports ePub, a common format at public libraries. Free books, no return fees! Many libraries require you to get off your butt and go to the library, but some have websites.

I think the real issue is that, by buying a device, you've chosen to buy books from that company almost exclusively, but you get little reward for making that choice. The ebook cost is sometimes only pennies less than the paperback, despite the fact that the production/distribution costs are dramatically lower. Why don't these greedy companies pass on some real savings to their loyal customers? Because few customers even think about it, and even fewer complain. Just like Apple and Google have taken advantage of consumer ignorance with their user/developer-unfriendly app stores, Amazon and BN won't discount ebooks appropriately as long as consumers don't demand it.

Skizz
21st April, 2013 @ 12:48 pm PDT

Actually, the Nook uses the standard ebook format called EPUB so you can buy your ebooks from Barnes & Noble or anywhere else that sells EPUB formatted ebooks.

Amazon on the other hand only sells their proprietary .MOBI/AZW formatted ebooks, which you cannot buy anywhere other than Amazon.

Along with the tech specifications, the ebook format each one uses is something else to be considered. I had a Nook Color for 2 1/2 years and just last month I got a Kindle Fire. I still have all of my Nook/B&N purchased ebooks in the cloud and even sideloaded the Nook app onto my Kindle Fire so I can access them. You can't use apps at all with the Glowlight or Paperwhite so that's something else to consider as well.

laladivina
5th August, 2013 @ 09:21 pm PDT
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