Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Day As A Kindle Touch Owner

Ooooo... Shiny!
For all of my e-reading life, I've been a loyal Nook owner. I have never been drawn to Kindles at all. Until they made a touch model with a web browser, and X-Ray feature, and MP3 player, and Audible support, and downloadable games, and... and everything! Plus, I liked the sleek look.

And so I researched. I read reviews, I watched YouTube unboxings and reviews and comparisons, I even went to three different stores to play with display models! I did my homework. And you know what, none of that stuff helped at all. Playing with the display models was practically useless. There was no option to leave the demo and play with the actual working device! Grrrr! >_<

And let me just say that the demo on the Kindle Touch is... less than helpful. It didn't go over any of the features that the device has. Instead it covered how to use the touchscreen to change pages while reading, how to use the touchscreen to access the menu, how to use the touchscreen to change the font size, how to use the touchscreen to shop the Kindle Store from the device and how to use the touchscreen to select a book from the library.

All things that are intuitive to touchscreen users and are easy to figure out without the guided tutorial.
So, I decided that I would take the plunge and just buy one, play with it at home, and see how I liked it. I bought at my local Staples store, because not only are they insanely helpful there, but they have a kick-ass return policy. Yay Staples! (Plug, plug)

Obviously, from the title of this post, I didn't keep the Kindle. There were a lot of features, but they just didn't really impress me enough to justify switching from Nook to Kindle. Mainly this was because of the interface. I'm used to my Nook's layout and customization, but I'm open to change if the change is an improvement. I don't think the Kindle's interface was an improvement over the Nook's. Here's why:
  • Both have sortable ability to view books by shelves (collections on the Kindle) or by title, or by author, but on the Kindle, everything is in a text-only list view. On my Nook, I can view either text or covers.

  • On my Nook, there's an actual homepage with the Currently Reading book, current page number, new reads and recommendations (click for example image), whereas the Kindle's "home" screen is the library. It just felt like something was missing.

  • On my Nook, from ANY screen outside of a book, there's a quick-jump button to return to the page I was last reading. If I go to my homepage, the settings, shopping, whatever... my page in a book is only one tap away. I LOVE THIS FEATURE. I really had no idea how much I used it until I tried the Kindle and continually had to find my book again in the library to go back to it.

  • I could not find any way to see the percent of the battery remaining. Both have "Device info" areas in the settings, but the Kindle doesn't display the battery info there, whereas the Nook does. I use this a lot as well, considering that the icon isn't exactly the most precise at showing the remaining charge. It's just a little icon, so what looks like a 50% charge may really be 35%. Also, on the Nook when I unplug the USB or charger, it tells me the battery's charge in a pop-up. The Kindle doesn't.

  • Searching the Kindle's library for a book was... weird. I searched for a book's title, but instead of taking me to the book in the library, it showed me instances inside the books in my library where the phrase ("Ghost Story") was found. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong, so I tried several more times, and even had my boyfriend try, and got the same thing every time. Maybe there was another option somewhere that I didn't see, but search usually means search, and I was sure that I was searching "my files" in the dropdown. Scrolling through the library list got pretty old pretty fast.

  • The responsiveness of the touchscreen wasn't as good as my Nook either. Sometimes it would respond to the lightest touch, but other times I would need to tap several times to get a response. Often there was a delay, so I wasn't sure if it was just slow or if I needed to tap again.

  • Also, the Kindle took several minutes to load and display the 200 titles I sideloaded on the device.  I wasn't sure it was even working at first because nothing at all happened for almost 45 seconds after Calibre said the transfer was complete. Removing the titles from the Kindle was the same way. When I load books onto my Nook via Calibre, once the transfer is complete, the titles are there and displayed immediately.
Regarding the other features, the Nook doesn't have a web browser, MP3 player, Audible support (or sound support at all). It does not have the X-Ray feature, or Text-to-Speech, or Easy Reach (for page turns). I did really like that you could pinch to resize (in-book and in the web browser), and also zoom in on images. Also, the e-ink display was crystal clear and crisp - very nice. And the Kindle's internal storage capacity is 4GB compared to the Nook's 2 GB (segmented to allow only 256MB for non-B&N content). So these things were all points in the Kindle's favor. (However, the Nook wins overall for storage space since there's an expandable memory slot.)

The MP3 player and TTS aren't very loud, and the controls were accessed in the menu by touchscreen, so there's no way to control volume without interrupting your reading. Also, I wasn't able to find the X-Ray feature to try it out, so I don't know how it really is to use. I found a video review showing the feature, and it looked cool, but not really something I think I'd use often, since I read for pleasure. I do think it would be useful for reviewers or college students.

Finally, regarding the keyboard, I thought they were pretty similar, except that the Kindle's keys were smaller and spaced out more, and the save/cancel/delete buttons were above the keyboard on the little text window rather than part of the keyboard as the Nook's cancel/done buttons are.

Overall, the Nook may not have all the bells and whistles, but as an e-reader (and e-book storage device), it does the job and does it very well. So I ended up returning the Kindle. I'm glad that I gave it a try though, because the Kindle is really an attractive e-reader, and for someone who is used to the Kindle interface already, I would definitely recommend it. For me, it just doesn't beat the Nook, though. Plus my Nook allows me to customize my own screensavers, which is awesome.

Shadow felt a little betrayed that I'd sized up the competition, but he retained my love, so in the end, that makes him...


    1. Nice review.

      I have a Kindle, which was given to me by my daughter, so I'm used to it. (It's not a touch.) My sister has a Nook; I love the color screen. I guess if I was to buy something at this time, though, it would be a Kindle Fire.

    2. Thanks for such a thorough review, which has come at the perfect time as I am researching to purchase my own e-reading device. (Reading on my smartphone is not fun.)

      You've basically reinforced my inclination to try one of the Nook products, but I'm still unclear whether it will be the regular Nook or a Bells & Whistles Nook. (I loathe Amazon and thus will never buy a Kindle)

    3. My mom has the Kindle Fire and she loves it. It's a nice device, but I have one major problem with it that would be a deal-breaker for me: There's no USB to mini-USB cable to connect it to your computer. It comes with a wall plug only.

      I don't like that Amazon seems to be saying "You need to use our wireless Cloud Service to upload your content."

      You can buy a USB cable separately, and it will work, but I don't like that they don't provide one.

      But that's just me.

    4. Crowe - by "Bells and Whistles" Nook, do you mean the Nook Color (or Tablet)?

      My boyfriend has one of the Nook Colors, and he likes it well enough, but there are some quirks with it (like you used to be able to scroll through the photos from the file directory, but now you can't - you have to use the app. Or the PDF reader's page turns take a little getting used to.)

      I haven't really used it enough to give many details on it - I prefer reading on e-ink much more than LCD. Plus, the Nook's battery only lasts about 8 hours or so with wireless off. That could be a single sitting for me! :P

      Maybe I'll play with it and do a blog post this weekend, since I do have one at my disposal, and everything. ;)

    5. Thank you so much for this review... I agree with all that you've said in it. I have a Kindle for five months and it's really a great, little device which has so many features.
      I love that I can read some of the eBooks I've downloaded from All You Can Books... I can't wait to read all of them... reading is my passion.

    6. Excellent and thorough post, thanks! :)