Reviews of the Barnes & Noble nook have started appearing from all the usual suspects. The general opinion is that although it is a decent device, it is slow and all of the differentiating features come with major caveats.
Barnes & Noble will be updating the nook’s software soon but for now here’s what the reviewers have to say.
David Pogue regarding the nook’s screens:
Worse, the touch screen is balky and nonresponsive, even for the Nook product manager who demonstrated it for me. The only thing slower than the color strip is the main screen above it. Even though it’s exactly the same E Ink technology that the Kindle and Sony Readers use, the Nook’s screen is achingly slower than the Kindle’s. It takes nearly three seconds to turn a page — three times longer than the Kindle — which is really disruptive if you’re in midsentence.
Wilson Rothman mentions a huge caveat to one of the nook’s biggest features:
Lending is another non-Kindle function rolling out this week that I’ll be following up on. You select a book from your collection, lend it to someone listed in your Nook contacts, and they receive a message via email and on their Nook’s “Daily” screen, where periodicals, offers and other notices show up. When they accept, they can read the book for two weeks. During that time, you can’t read it, and when it reverts back to you, they get a notice to buy. You can’t lend the same book to the same person twice.
Walt Mossberg regarding the size of the nook’s catalog compared to the Amazon Kindle’s:
Nook claims a catalog of just over one million digital books, versus 389,000 for the Kindle. But this is somewhat misleading, because over half of the Nook catalog is made up of free out-of-copyright titles published before 1923, the vast majority of which are likely to be of little interest to average readers. Barnes & Noble refuses to say how many modern commercial titles it offers, or even whether it has more or fewer of these than Amazon (AMZN).
Joshua Topolsky has this to say about the nook’s user interface:
At first blush, the Nook’s user interface and navigation is a bit overwhelming. If you’re coming off of any traditional reader, even one as complex as the Kindle, what Barnes & Noble offers seems far more daunting. Aside from having to learn a completely new way of getting around, adding that dual screen interaction to the mix is rather confusing when you first flip the switch. The foundations of the UI aren’t hard to understand, but if you walk into the device without knowing your way around, you’ll end up feeling pretty lost at first.
I was excited about the use of two screens to interact with an e-book reader. Using a touchscreen LCD to navigate menus and an e-ink display to show text sounds like the best of both worlds, but unless Barnes & Noble can find a better way to implement this it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a hit with consumers.
But, the biggest downfall of the nook to me is the lack of web browser. The Kindle’s browser isn’t perfect but since my main use for such a device would be to read text from the web, having a web browser is a huge win.
Update 12/20/09: Barnes & Noble Sending $100 Gift Certificates to nook Pre-Orderers