Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4e Review

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4e Review

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Epblogs verdict

The Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4e ebook reader features page-turn buttons and fosters a connection to the physical bookstore chain, but it doesn’t stand up well to the competition.

Quick Summary

For the first time in a very long time, Barnes and Noble has recently released an entry-level e-reader. The Nook Glowlight 4e is a fantastic gadget that can be purchased for for $119 from more than 600 bookshops in the US. People now have the chance to trial products before they buy and receive customer care right within the store thanks to this.

If something goes wrong, all you have to do is drive to your neighborhood book store to exchange it for a new one or just get a refund. Because they are the only business that manufactures its own items and sells them in-person and online, the significance of the entire scenario cannot be overstated.

Amazon and Kobo have retail visibility in the United States too. Kobo is sold in hundreds of Walmart locations, but the devices are normally out of battery, and the staff are not trained on the products. It is easier to buy it online. The Amazon Kindle is mainly sold online, however you can find display models at various Best Buy and Target locations, but not every store has them on display, but it is easier to buy online. You can see how Nook has the major advantage, all stores have them in stock and staff are trained on all of the e-readers and tablets, so it is easy to have your questions addressed.

If you have had a Nook e-reader in the past and it is more then 4-5 years old, should you buy this model? If you have fled the ecosystem due to the changing tides of the e-reader landscape, is this a good time to revisit the Nook?

Choose Your Reading Platform

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo are the three largest ebook reader firms in the US. In general, the best course of action depends on where you acquire your books. First of all, you need to be aware that neither other readers nor readers from other stores have native support for books from Amazon. Kobo is the best choice for all other formats and public library holdings.

The Nook offers good physical buttons and a comforting connection to physical Barnes & Noble bookstores if you’re starting from scratch. Because of this affiliation, AT&T-branded hotspots and Barnes & Noble locations both offer free Wi-Fi. You can also take your Nook into a physical store for assistance if you’re having problems with it.

In Canada, Kobo has a similar partnership with Chapters and Indigo stores, but there is no corresponding deal in the US. Amazon, meanwhile, already closed all of its bookstores in 2022. Despite this connectivity, the hardware and software features of Nooks fall short of those of competing ebook readers.

Basic Hardware

The Nook GlowLight 4e measures approximately 4.8 by 6.2 by 0.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.0 ounces. It uses a soft-touch matte plastic back and sports a 6-inch, 1,024-by-758-pixel E Ink Carta panel. The slightly pricier Nook GlowLight 4 ($149.99) offers a higher-resolution screen (300ppi compared with 212ppi) of the same size. That resolution delta won’t make much of a difference for ebooks, but is useful for manga or PDFs with tiny text. The GlowLight 4e’s screen is at least better than that of the base Kindle ($89.99), which has a screen density of just 167ppi.

A 6-inch screen size is still standard for affordable ebook readers, but more premium models are now shifting to 7-inch panels. In practice, the difference is reasonably noticeable: The Nook GlowLight 4e shows 17 lines of Ted Chiang’s “Stories of Your Life and Others” per screen, whereas the 7-inch Kindle Paperwhite displays 21 lines of Peng Shepherd’s “The Cartographers” at about the same font size.

Of course, the physical page navigation buttons on either side of the screen are the big appeal here. Unfortunately, our test device had some quality control issues. Most notably, of the four physical buttons on our unit, the upper left button felt mushy rather than clicky, which made it difficult to tell when the device registered inputs. If build quality is paramount to you, the Kindle Oasis ($269.99), which also offers physical buttons, feels more premium.

Of course, the physical page navigation buttons on either side of the screen are the big appeal here. Unfortunately, our test device had some quality control issues. Most notably, of the four physical buttons on our unit, the upper left button felt mushy rather than clicky, which made it difficult to tell when the device registered inputs. If build quality is paramount to you, the Kindle Oasis ($269.99), which also offers physical buttons, feels more premium.

The front of the GlowLight 4e features a relatively low count of LED front lights (B&N doesn’t specify a number.) We noticed slightly lighter and darker patches at the top of the screen, with more even lighting farther down. That’s par for the course with lower-cost ebook readers. You can set the brightness level for the LEDs, but can’t change their color like you can on some competing models.

You get 8GB of total storage on the GlowLight 4e (with a usable capacity that’s closer to 4GB), which is far less than on the more premium Nook GlowLight 4 (32GB). Otherwise, both devices use the same USB-C port for charging and syncing, as well as support Wi-Fi. Neither device supports Bluetooth or includes a speaker, however, which means audiobooks are out of the question. Neither model is waterproof either.

The GlowLight 4e’s 1,400mAh battery is good for about four days’ worth of reading with the front light on, though the device lasts much longer if you turn it off. It charges at 5W via the USB-C connection, and because the battery is small, a complete charge takes only about two hours.

Limited Software and Format Support

The Nook’s interface lags considerably behind that of Amazon’s and Kobo’s. On the main My Library screen, you can arrange titles onto shelves, or groups, of books. You can also access the ebook store and browse Readouts, which are snippets of books Barnes & Noble is trying to promote. Unfortunately, you can’t access cloud services, review sites, or applications like Pocket from the device.

The Nook supports books in EPUB and PDF format only. But if you don’t want to purchase them through the store, you can sideload EPUBs and PDFs via USB cable. One method is to use Adobe Digital Editions to (somewhat clunkily) download and transfer books from public libraries onto your device. Kobo devices make it easier to read more types of formats, including CBR, CBZ, HTML, RTF, and text. Kobo ebook readers also integrate more easily with public library systems and can download books wirelessly via Dropbox.

We had no trouble with EPUB and PDF documents on the GlowLight 4e in testing. Free EPUBs we downloaded from Baen Books even kept chapter links intact. For reading, you can choose between seven fonts in a range of sizes as well as three margin styles. You can also drop bookmarks and use a dictionary, but there’s no summarization tool like Amazon’s X-Ray feature.

The reading experience isn’t always smooth, however. The Nook crashed at one point in testing and required a reset. Twice, the device brought us to an earlier page than I’d left it at, too. And, although graphical PDFs support panning and pinch-to-zoom gestures, we noted considerable lag with the experience. That last point is common across low-cost ebook readers, however.

For the Nook Faithful

We appreciate that Barnes & Noble continues to make ebook readers for people who have stuck with the platform. And if all you want is a low-cost, lightweight reading device with physical buttons, the Nook GlowLight 4e won’t disappoint. But for the same amount of money, the Kobo Clara HD ($119.99) offers more format options, better public library support, a color-changing front light, and a higher-resolution screen.

You should also consider stepping up to the Libra 2 ($179.99) if the Kobo platform better suits your needs and you still want physical buttons. Amazon readers, meanwhile, should go for the latest Kindle Paperwhite. That model has a larger, higher-resolution, flat-front screen, color-changing LEDs with a better layout, and a waterproof build for not much more money.

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