Review - Barnes & Noble Nook Firmware v1.5

by Aaron 18. December 2010 00:20

My conclusion on the recent (November 2010) Nook update: kick-ass!

I was pretty excited when I got the email saying that the update was available.  I didn't know what to expect.  Faster page turns.  How much faster?  Other stuff.  What other stuff?

The Good

There are several features that I think are great in this most recent update.  The first is faster page turns.  I decided to do a little timing to do a comparison.  The old firmware for Nook had page turns at 2 Mississippis.  It was consistently 2 Mississippis.  I updated the Nook.  After it booted up, I opened the book I was reading.  I turned the page...2 Mississippis.  I was pissed, but of course, you have to try things multiple times to get a real sampling.

The second page turn wasn't lightning fast, but it was fast.  It took half the time to change pages.  That's right, it was a single Mississippi.  Reading a book became a little difficult for a couple of nights because my habit was to press the button to change pages before I got to the end of the last sentence.  The page would change as I was finishing the sentence and I could shift my consuming gaze to the top of the page and continue on with little interruption.  Now though...I had to go BACK multiple times because I missed the last few words of the page.  Of course I've adjusted, and I love it.  Quick response.  Well done Barnes & Noble.

Also in the update, you can now organize your books with a virtual bookshelf.  I like this because now I can organize things in such a way that keep my professional books separated from my murder mystery novels which are also separated from my fantasy fiction novels.  I see that look on your face.  Don't judge me.

Finally, of the features that I've noticed and care about, there's an online sync for your books.  The one thing that I know about is syncing the page that you're on so when you go to another device, you can pick up where you left off.  I believe this is a feature that the Kindle has had for a while.  I don't know, but I hope that it syncs bookmarks and notes as well.  I'll look into whether or not those features sync if I ever use them.

To use the syncing capability, you have to have a network connection.  That means that if you typically use your Nook in airplane mode to conserve battery (like I do), then you have to enable wi-fi.  That leads me to the first thing I don't like.

The Bad

One of my gripes was that it's not easy to enable wi-fi.  I would like to do it from anywhere so that now I can sync my page number.  I don't want to go to the home screen, w-fi, then enable wi-fi.  I want to get to that wi-fi menu from anywhere.  I still can't, and it bugs the crap out of me.  Fortunately, one of the issues I always had is that it wouldn't enable wi-fi easily when going to the store.  It seems to connect to wi-fi more readily now.  But I still have to go through all the steps of putting it in airplane mode.  Not a fan of the number of steps here.

My second gripe is the on-screen keyboard.  It's still slow.  A handful of keys into typing, I see the letters start popping up, and I have to wait to make sure I didn't fat finger anything.

My third gripe is the web browser.  It's no longer beta (hurray?), but I still find it rather pointless.  Again, it chews through battery life, it's still black and white, and it's still slow.  I would be just as happy if it didn't exist on my Nook.


I already said it: kick-ass!  The Nook was already a worthy competitor to the Kindle.  Now with the most recent firmware update, it's a more worthy competitor.

It's not perfect, nor will it ever be.  I'm one of those people that nothing is ever perfect.  I'm not perfect either, so don't think I'm elevating myself to a higher plane of existence here.  Back to my point though, it's good enough.  Good enough for who?  Or is it "good enough for whom?"  Me.  And probably you.  And probably most people that are interested in an ebook reader.

So, if you're still wondering if you should get a Nook, go to Barnes & Noble, play with the Nook, listen to the sales pitch, and decide for yourself.

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