The New Backlit Nook

Barnes and Noble has announced the coming release of the latest version of its Nook e-reader. The new model is not profoundly different from the previous version, except for one major addition. The new Nook Simple Touch boasts patent-pending GlowLight technology. GlowLight allows Nook users to read in the dark without having to use an overhead light or a cumbersome clip-on.

The Nook Simple Touch package costs $139 USD, which includes a power adapter, but excludes the obnoxious on-screen advertisements that accompany many other low cost e-readers (note: smart buyers can knock a few bucks off this price by using Barnes and Noble coupon codes). By comparison, the Amazon Kindle Touch can be bought for $79, but requires readers to put up with onscreen ads and pay an extra $15 USD for a power adaptor. The Simple Touch with GlowLight is unchanged in size from its predecessor (6.5 x 5-inches), but actually weighs 5% less than the previous version. In fact, Barnes and Noble claims that it is the lightest Nook, ever. It is also a little more than one-half ounce lighter than Kindle’s Touch.

The Simple Touch makes use of an LED array mounted at the top of the unit between the LCD screen and the anti-glare layer. The array effectively brightens the entire display and makes it easy to read even in the darkest rooms. The GlowLight is enabled by holding down the Nook’s “n” button for a couple of seconds. The brightness can be adjusted using the Simple Touch’s onscreen menu.

The company claims that the battery in the Nook Simple Touch will provide an entire month of bedtime reading (assuming one hour of GlowLight usage per night). And speaking of usage, you can safely leave the Nook Simple Touch running without fear that it will run down the battery, because the device comes with an auto-sleep feature that turns itself off after five minutes without usage.

The GlowLight feature, according to the company’s website, makes the Nook Simple Touch the “first and only reader designed for perfect bedtime reading.” The website also says the LED “creates a soft glow optimized for low light reading.” The company also asserts that the Simple Touch is like two readers in one: both an E Ink reader and a lit display, which makes it “amazing in bed and at the beach.”

Set-up is simple. The buyer only has to enter a wi-fi password on the touch screen keypad. The unit fits in a pocket or a purse, weighs very little, and can go wherever the buyer may want to take it.

There are two features the new Nook does not offer, that some people may miss. The first is 3G connectivity. At this time, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight only operates over wi-fi. The second missing feature is a physical keyboard. Input on this unit is accomplished by touch screen only. Both of these features are popular with many people, but the new Nook tries its hardest to make up for their lack by offering the backlight and the lighter weight.

On the whole, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight seems like a terrific unit, and it makes us wonder, “How long will it take for Amazon to respond with a backlit Kindle of its own?”

Kenny Craig is a technology and marketing writer from western Michigan. He loves to read, and is fascinated by all things digital, so the new Nook e-reader, quite naturally, has him hooked.