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Nook Glowlight review

Nook Glowlight eReader
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £89
inc VAT

A super light eReader you can use in the dark, the Nook Glowlight is a great alternative to Amazon's Paperwhite


Screen size: 6in, Screen resolution: 1,024×758, Storage: 4GB, Size: 165x127x10.6mm, Weight: 175g

It’s been two years since we’ve seen a Nook eReader, but the latest device from the now-subsidiary company of bookseller Barnes & Noble certainly knows how to make an entrance after such a prolonged absence.

The Glowlight’s white rubbery, plastic chassis may not look very exciting from the outside, but its remarkable weight of just 175g immediately distinguishes it from its rivals. That’s 31g lighter than the Amazon Paperwhite, which was already one of the lightest eReaders around. You can feel the difference in your hand, too, as the Paperwhite seems considerably heavier by comparison.

This should mean less aching wrists when reading for long periods of time, and the Glowlight’s smooth, rounded corners certainly add to that feeling of comfort. We found its thick bezels were a little too wide to reach the other side of its 6in E-Ink screen with just one hand, but as long as you’ve got access to the right hand side of the screen, all you need to do is tap the edge of the display to turn the page. The screen itself has a 1,024×758 resolution, which gives the Glowlight a pixel density of 212 pixels-per-inch. This is the same as the Paperwhite, so text looks just as sharp and crisp on the Glowlight as its main competitor.

Nook Glowlight menu

Tapping the middle of the screen will bring up the options menu. In the menu bar running along the bottom of the screen, you can change the font, line spacing and the size of the texts and margin, giving you plenty of control over the appearance of each book. The responsive interface is sensibly laid out, too, making it quick and easy to use.

We particularly like the option to use the publisher’s default font settings. This is useful not only for books that make use of different fonts within the novel, but it also makes books look that much closer to their physical counterparts. It’s something that’s not available on Kindle devices and book purists should love the variety it provides – you can always override it if a font is particularly distateful to you.

The bottom menu bar also lets you jump to specific parts of the book, find certain words, or bring up the contents page, which includes tabs for annotations, bookmarks and words you’ve looked up in the on-board dictionary. The top menu, on the other hand, shows a clock, battery bar, bookmark button, and a small light bulb icon for Wi-Fi and brightness settings.

The brightness setting controls the eReader’s titular Glowlight feature, which illuminates the screen so you can read at night. As long as the device is unlocked, you can turn it on and off it simply by holding down the N-shaped home button for a couple of seconds. The LEDs themselves are housed at the very top of the screen, but they created a surprisingly even light all the way across the display.

Nook Glowlight library

It wasn’t completely perfect, though, and ironically it was the top of the screen just below the LEDs where we saw a small but noticeable shadow running across the edge of display. It wasn’t enough to prevent us from seeing the screen clearly, though. Black text also became tinged with blue on the Glowlight’s maximum brightness setting, so we’d recommend keeping it at 50 per cent or less depending on your reading material.

The home page is split into two main sections. The top shows the last three books you’ve been reading, making it easier to jump in and out of books you’ve got on the go, while the lower half shows a new ‘Now on Nook’ section. This highlights a list of new arrivals in the store that have been curated by Barnes & Noble booksellers. You can also access your library, the Nook shop and the Glowlight’s built-in search function as well as the main settings menu.

The Glowlight has 4GB of onboard storage. This might seem like a generous figure at first glance, particularly since the Paperwhite only has 2GB of storage, but only 2.05GB is actually available to the user. The rest is taken up by the Glowlight’s Android 2.1 operating system. Nook claims this is still enough to hold 2,000 eBooks, but there’s no microSD card slot either, so you’ll have to make do with the storage available to house your book collection.

Nook Glowlight side

There’s no 3G option either, but the Glowlight’s built-in Wi-Fi lets you buy books straight from Nook’s storefront whenever you have an internet connection. You’ll need to go online to set up your Glowlight, but we were up and running in no time at all.

The main storefront is dominated by a tappable banner section that highlights certain collections. These range from new releases, sale bundles, Nook’s ‘Daily Find’ and ‘Spotlight’ books to best-selling magazines. Above this are more general shortcuts to books, magazines, newspapers and your wishlist, while below are Nook’s “Popular Lists”, including bestsellers, special offers, new releases, a news stand, writers in focus, and other Nook genre channels.

On the whole, Nook’s eBooks do tend to be a fraction more expensive than Amazon, but you can always shop around and transfer other ePub and PDF-based books to the Glowlight via USB. Of course, any book you do buy on Nook will also be stored in the cloud so you can access it freely from other devices via the Nook reading app on Android and iOS.

Nook Glowlight rear

Glowlight lets you keep up to date with what your friends are reading. You can do this by linking your Glowlight to your Facebook, Twitter and Google + accounts or adding friends using their email address. This lets you share highlighted sections and posts from books you’re reading as well as lend certain LendMe books to friends for two weeks. This is particularly useful for parents who don’t want to let their kids loose with their credit card details, as kids can simply borrow their books from their parents’ account. You don’t have to share your entire LendMe library either, as you can choose which books are visible to your friends list, which means your guilty pleasure library of YA fiction, for example, needn’t be disclosed to your wider social network.

The LendMe service does have some downsides, though, as you can only loan a book once, and you won’t be able to read that book while someone else is reading it. This is because you’re also lending the digital rights to the book as well as the actual text, so you won’t be able to read it again until the loan has ended.

Nook Glowlight alternative colour bands

As for battery life, Nook claims the Glowlight can last for two months on a single charge, but this figure is based on 30 minutes of reading a day with the Wi-Fi turned off, so it will drain faster if you’re reading for longer periods of time and using it to browse the online store.

The Nook Glowlight is a great eReader at a competitive price. While its Glowlight illumination isn’t completely perfect, its lower price, featherweight chassis and great screen certainly make it a very worthy alternative to the £109 Amazon Paperwhite. The revamped store structure is another point in its favour, so if you don’t want to be tied to Amazon, the Nook Glowlight is the eReader for you.  

Screen size6in
Screen resolution1,024×768
Memory cardN/A
Battery life8 weeks
PortsMicro USB
Format support
eBook supportePub, PDF
Other file supportN/A
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£89
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Part codeGlowlight

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