The Kindle is the undisputed king of e-readers and the Nook is perennially relegated to second place. But does that mean the Kindle is indisputably better? Certainly not! Both devices have a lot going for them, and their subtle differences could make one or the other a better choice for your needs.
Let’s take a look at where the two devices differ and where they’re similar. Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the e-readers here and not the tablets.
This is going to be a significant factor for many people. The current Nook lineup boasts a single model for $100, which is great for cutting down analysis paralysis and decision fatigue. The GlowLight Plus is the most recent and most advanced Nook, and it offers a lot of features for $129.99.
There’s a whole stable of Kindles, ranging from $80 to almost $300, each with their own set of features. Here are the starting prices for each:
- Kindle Basic: $79.99/£56.99
- Kindle Paperwhite: $119.99/£104.49
- Kindle Voyage: $199.99/£169.99
- Kindle Oasis: $289.99/£269.99
The base Kindle is the most affordable option, and saves you 50 bucks over the Nook GlowLight Plus. But the $80 model includes ads on the lock screen, doesn’t come with a backlight, and has a lower screen resolution than the Nook.
Of course, if you’re willing to shell out for the higher-end Kindle models, you’re going to get more features. The Nook places itself squarely in the middle of the Kindle range, both in terms of features and price.
File Formats Supported
Both devices support a wide range of ebook formats, but the Kindle supports a slightly larger variety.
- Kindle: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
- Nook: EPUB, PDF, Adobe DRM EPUB, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP.
If you only plan on buying books through the associated ebook store, this isn’t going to matter much. If you want to sideload documents, though, you may want to consider what you’re going to be trying to read. Using the Kindle conversion service is very easy, and it opens up some very useful formats like DOCX.
On the other hand, if you’re using Calibre to manage your ebooks, you can convert just about any file into another format that your reader will accept.
If you feel strongly about DRM and proprietary formats, the Kindle’s proprietary AZW format might irk you, whereas the Nook’s use of the more widely accepted EPUB format might appeal to you. It’s not likely going to be a big deal, but keep it in mind.
Most e-readers have phenomenal battery life, and the Nook and Kindle are no exception. The Nook advertises six weeks of battery life, assuming 30 minutes of reading per-day, one page refresh per minute, the GlowLight at 30 percent brightness, and wireless off.
The base Kindle model sports four weeks of life, assuming 30 minutes of reading per-day and wireless off. The Kindle Paperwhite, which may be more comparable to the GlowLight Plus because of its built-in reading light, claims six weeks of 30 minutes of reading per-day with the light at 10, about 40 percent of maximum.
The Kindle Oasis, on the other hand, lets you read for up to eight weeks with 30 minutes of reading per-day and the brightness at 10. The included charging cover helps keep the battery topped up, so it can store more power from each charge. It also charges more quickly than other models.
Connectivity and Store
All of the Kindle and Nook models are Wi-Fi capable, so you can access the store and download books whenever and wherever you have a connection. The Kindle Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis, however, allow for a 3G connection as well. If you pay $70 up front, you can be connected no matter where you are. Is it worth the added cost? That depends on how often you download books and how often you find yourself unable to connect to Wi-Fi. I’ve never needed the 3G connection, but some people might find it very useful.
Obviously, the Nook connects to the Barnes & Noble ebook store, while the Kindle connects to the Amazon Kindle store. Both stores offer all of the big-name books from popular authors, as well as a stunning selection of back-catalog items. If you’re interested in checking out self-published books and items from very small publishers, Amazon is likely to have you better covered. But for most people, this is unlikely to be an issue.
The Nook GlowLight Plus has a 300-dpi e-ink screen. That’s a solid resolution, and displays text very crisply. You might notice a bit of graininess in images, but e-readers are never going to be as good as tablets when displaying images.
The base model Kindle has a 167-dpi resolution, but all of the other Kindles pack 300 dpi. Is that going to make a big difference? Probably not. When it comes to text, slightly sharper edges aren’t likely to bother you. Images will definitely be nicer, though.
One of the biggest advantages that the Nook has over the base-model Kindle is that it has a built-in reading light. It’s not a backlight, so you won’t have to deal with glare, but it makes reading in low light (or total darkness) possible. As far as e-reader features go, it’s one of the most useful. And you won’t get it on an Amazon device until you step up to the Kindle Paperwhite.
Going up the ranks, the Paperwhite is lit by four LEDs, the Voyage is lit by six and includes an ambient light sensor, and the Oasis packs a full 10 LEDs.
In looking at the various e-readers that Barnes & Noble and Amazon offer, you’ll come across some pretty cool features. The Nook GlowLight Plus is waterproof, for example, up to one meter for thirty seconds. So you don’t have to be afraid of reading at the beach or in the bath. It also includes Barnes & Noble’s Readout feature, which helps you discover cool book excerpts, articles, and more.
The Kindle Voyage and Oasis both have PagePress, which places a pressure-sensitive pad directly into the bezel of the reader, so you don’t have to move your thumb from the bezel to hit the touchscreen and turn the page. This sounds like it wouldn’t be much of an annoyance, but you’d be amazed at how tired your hand and forearm muscles can get from that motion over several hours of reading.
The Oasis is designed with a unique shape to be ideal for one-handed reading, and the included cover helps keep the battery topped up. All of the Kindles have the X-Ray feature, which lets you quickly skim through the book for mentions of a specific character or topic. And because Amazon owns Goodreads, you can access it directly from your Kindle to update your “currently reading” shelf, rate books, and check your to-read list.
Which e-Reader Is the Right Choice for You?
As with anything else, the “best” e-reader is going to be largely determined by your particular needs and habits. Do you prefer the wider selection of books available on the Amazon Kindle? Or would you rather be able to read in the bath without having to worry about water damage? Do you want PagePress capabilities, or would you rather get lifetime in-store support at Barnes & Noble? Do you want to take robust notes using your e-reader?
All of these factors will likely figure into your decision on which e-reader to buy. We just hope our rundown of the options available, and their various features and capabilities, helps you make an informed decision. We’re not here to make the decision for you, but simply point you in the right direction.
Which e-reader are you likely to buy? Which features or other factors helped you make your decision? Do you think all e-readers are pretty much of a muchness at this point? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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