Thursday, April 12, 2012

News Update: Barnes & Noble beats Amazon to the punch with lighted e-ink Nook

What's the No. 1 requested feature people want in an e-ink e-reader?

According to Barnes & Noble, it is an integrated light, which is why the company spent the last 2 years developing the new $139 Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, available today for preorder and shipping in early May.

I had a chance to play around with the new Nook at a launch event in New York and, when you can see from the visuals, except for the gray border around the edge, it looks identical to the standard $99 Nook Simple Touch, which remains on the market. However, Barnes & Noble says this new model is slightly lighter (6%, to be exact), weighing 6.95 ounces.

"It was really hard to get the lighting just right so it displays uniformly across the display," Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch told CNET. "We think people are going to be really happy with how it looks."

Lynch said the technology was designed in-house at Barnes & Noble's office in Palo Alto, Calif., and has a patent pending. it is crucial to note that the glow technology isn't a backlight but very a form of front-lighting. You activate the light by holding down the Nook button on the front and shut it off identical way. You can also dim the light to avoid bothering a bed partner who's trying to sleep.

As Jamie Iannone, president of Digital Products at Barnes & Noble, demoed the device, he pointed out that the light in fact fades on -- and also fades off. He said that was something he requested, explaining that he didn't want it to be too jarring when people turned the light on in the dark. (I joked that he had a touch of Steve Jobs in him.)

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