You know the feeling when you pick up a good book and just, for the life of you, can’t put it down? You read it on the subway, you read it on the sidewalk at risk of running into people and lampposts, and you read it at work when you should be doing other things… like working. That’s exactly how I feel about the entire experience with Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. I can’t put it down and, thanks to its new GlowLight technology I don’t have to put it down at night, either. Unlike other eReaders, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Nook has its own GlowLight technology that allows you to read in complete darkness. Unlike the iPad, the light is non-intrusive and doesn’t tire your eyes. Even better? Barnes & Noble kept every other design aspect in place, including its amazing E Ink Pearl display, which is perfect for reading out doors. You really can’t go wrong here, folks. Why do I love it? Why is it, hands down, worth every penny of its $139 asking price? Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Hardware

As I just mentioned, Barnes & Noble maintained nearly the exact hardware measurements that it used in the original Nook Simple Touch reader. The GlowLight model, somehow, is even lighter at 6.95 ounces as opposed to 7.58 ounces, though. The rubberized backside makes it somewhat resistant to coffee or water spills and even small drops. I should be clear: it is by no means liquid or drop proof — it doesn’t meet any MIL SPEC standard — but you get a sense of safety dealing with rubber as opposed to metal or plastic.

The front face of the device is home to four rubber buttons, two on each side, which can be customized for turning the page forward or backward. They require a deliberate push (not a hard one) in order to change the page, which means you won’t accidentally go skipping through the pages of a book while you’re reading. The device is minimalistic when it comes to buttons, too. The only way I am able to tell the difference between the older Nook Simple Touch and the GlowLight model is that the GlowLight device has a small gray border running around the device where the original has a black one. There’s a power button on the back and a small home button, flanked by a microUSB port for charging, just below the screen that also serves as the GlowLight activator. More on that later. Finally, there’s support for 80.211 b/g/n Wi-Fi networks and 2GB of storage on board for holding up to 1,000 books, but you can also add up to 32GB of additional storage using a microSD hatch on the right side of the device. It was a bit of a pain to open, but we’re not holding any grudges.

The Nook Simple Touch is absolutely solid. I’ve never used a case with mine and have only minimal scratches on my units. I usually toss it in my backpack when I go on business trips or long train rides and the only flaw I’ve seen in almost a year with the unit is a small black splotch on my older Nook Simple Touch unit. That’s my fault – maybe I should invest in a case at some point, and I assume it was caused by my free-floating keychain or the corner of a tablet, which I also carry in my bag. The 6-inch display is the exact same on the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, so you can expect the same level of durability.

Software

Amazon has a pretty solid user interface, I’ll give them that, but I like Barnes & Noble’s better. The home screen gives instant access to new items, the title you’re currently reading, recommendations from Barnes & Noble and any notifications from friends if they have chosen to share a book with you. You can also hit the menu button at any time to access the home screen, your library, the Barnes & Noble bookstore, search, activate glowlight or your settings with a simple touch. The battery life status, glow light status, time and Wi-Fi signal are all at the top of the screen, too. Tapping that status bar quickly brings up your settings menu, also.

There’s one major, major reason that I preferred even the older Nook Simple Touch to Amazon’s Kindle Fire: the technology that allows the page turns to refresh the screen less often. In fact, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight only refreshes the page (in layman’s terms, that’s when it goes black and then lights up again) every six page turns. That’s 80% less than any other reader on the market and B&N says it’s 25% faster, too. The 16-level gray scale gives good depth to the screen, particularly with images and on the main menu, and its “Best-Text” technology helps keep text extra sharp. It really feels like you’re reading directly out of a paperback book.

Finally, file support: The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight supports ePub, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG and BMP files.

GlowLight Performance

Barnes & Noble’s patent pending GlowLight technology is what makes the latest Nook Simple Touch really shine. I typically have three options when I read at night: turn on my bedside lamp, turn on a small 3-LED light above my bed or use a tablet. The lamp is too bright for my girlfriend, the LED isn’t bright enough for me and I’ve only ever read a single book on a tablet. The brightness is just far too annoying.

I’m currently reading the second book in the Game of Thrones Series and I’ve ready 138 pages so far with the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. I am absolutely in love with the GlowLight technology. It reminds me of the lighting on a Timex watch, but instead of a blue hue the light is white. I can sit up reading without my girlfriend complaining, the brightness doesn’t hurt my eyes and it’s even adjustable if I want to dim or brighten the screen. It’s perfect for riding on a bus or airplane, too, where an overhead light might be annoying to fellow passengers (it annoys me when I’m trying to sleep on long haul flights).

Battery Life

You might assume that the GlowLight function would drain the battery pretty quickly, but that’s not at all the case. I’ve had my unit for more than 3 weeks and I still have a charge above 50%. Barnes & Noble says I should get more than a month’s reading time with GlowLight on and if I read for an hour each day. Unfortunately, I don’t read for an hour each day, so that’s why my battery is still fairly well charged. Either way, you’ll get more than 2 months of a charge without the light on and, honestly, more than a month of reading for 1 hour a day without ever having to find a charger is pretty amazing.

Wrap-Up

I’ve been asked by my family and friends several times about which eReader they should buy. For a while I recommended the Nook Simple Touch because that was my go-to eReading device. I still recommend that product if you want to save a few bucks: it’s available for $99 without advertisements (Amazon’s Kindle Touch, with ads, starts at $99). It also comes with everything in the box, including a USB wall mount (the Kindle doesn’t). However, I can’t stop talking about how much I love Barnes & Noble’s new Simple Touch with GlowLight. I’ve always wanted to read in the dark — much like I used to want to play Gameboy in the back seat of my parents car while we drove at night — and the latest Nook Simple Touch meets every need I have in an eBook. Better yet? It’s only $139.

If you’re looking for a belated Mother’s Day or graduation present, a Father’s Day Gift or just a new eReader to read on the back porch at night this summer, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is, by far, your best bet. My only gripe? It’s currently on backorder, so you’ll need to wait until May 30th if you pre-order a unit today. Even still, it’s rare I like a gadget this much and I guarantee you’ll love it.

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight Gallery

Rating - Mobile - 9.5 - Editors Choice

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