David Pogue’s review:
Every one of the Nook’s vaunted distinctions comes fraught with buzz kill footnotes.
Now, the Nook may have some hardware advantages — a removable battery, a memory-card slot and (because of narrower plastic margins) a slightly trimmer shape — but the Kindle is still a better machine. It’s faster, thinner, lighter and much easier to figure out.
I’m disappointed that the Nook isn’t better, even though I’m a Kindle owner (and fan). Competition is always good, and it looks like the Nook was horribly rushed to market as a sloppy, unfinished product.
Some of the software flaws are likely to be corrected quickly. But one particular performance flaw is a big problem in an ebook reader:
…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.
I can’t stress enough how big of a problem this is. The Kindle 2 — the fastest ebook page-turner available, as far as I know — turns pages just quickly enough not to be annoying or distracting.
Even if the Nook becomes twice as fast in a future software update, that’s still too slow.
B&N reps occasionally let out candid remarks blaming the awful performance on the underlying Android OS and claiming that Google is going to make it faster Real Soon Now™.
By reading between the lines a bit, it’s obvious that very little time was allotted to get the software side of this done, and they scrambled to scrap together whatever they possibly could and rush it out the door for the holiday season. That made for a sloppy, botched launch, but there’s a bigger, long-term problem: the Nook’s software team is probably insufficiently staffed, and has insufficient experience with (and control over) the Android platform, to deal with these sorts of problems quickly — if at all.
Meanwhile, the Kindle was a carefully planned and executed product from day one. It’s handled by a very competent developer team and built against a highly optimized Linux distribution that Amazon has custom-patched a lot at low levels to be better and faster on the Kindle hardware. It has received two years of improvements, bug fixes, and optimizations. The Kindle 2 isn’t “fast”, but it seems limited in most operations by the refresh speed of the e-ink screen rather than the device’s hardware or software.
But most importantly, the Kindle software is incredibly polished. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but mostly in additional functionality — the functionality that’s there is rock-solid. It’s well thought out, it’s as fast as the screen will let it be, and it works every time.
Reading about Pogue’s many issues with the Nook, as a Kindle owner, evokes the same amazement and sadness I feel as a Mac user when hearing about other people’s Windows woes.
I want the Nook to do well — not because I want one, but because I want it to ignite Amazon’s competitive spirit to keep dropping prices and improving the Kindle. (It’s the same reason I want a good iPhone competitor to exist.)
Hopefully the Nook will provide that competition someday, but that’s apparently not happening yet.