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Kindle Touch vs. Nook Simple Touch Comparison Smackdown
      11/28/11 06:39 PM

There are 4 major E Ink eBook Reader brands on the market today with touch screens: The Kindle Touch, the Nook Simple Touch, the Kobo Touch and the Sony WiFi Reader PRS-T1. In this comparison, we take a look at the top two in terms of volume sales, the Amazon Kindle Touch and the Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch.

The Nook Simple Touch is now $99, while the Kindle Touch is $99 with offers (ads that display in the place of screen savers and at the bottom of your book listing page) and $139 without offers. So, without ads, the Nook is less expensive.

The Kindle Touch is available with free 3G for book shopping and downloads. It costs $149 with ads and $189 without ads. There is no 3G Nook Simple Touch. If you don't have a WiFi netowrk at home, work or at the local bookstore/coffee shop/insert trendy hangout here, then the Nook isn't an option unless you want to use USB to load books.


Both have 6" Pearl E Ink displays with IR touch sensors that don't interfere with screen clarity. Screen quality is similar and each has 16 shades of gray.

The Kindle display picks up more fingerprints, and both are easily cleaned with a microfiber cloth.

Neither has landscape mode (sigh).

The Kindle and Nook Touch by default do a full page refresh with that momentary flash to black every six page turns. The Kindle has an option to refresh every page turn for those who are bothered by ghosting and don't mind the frequent flash to black. The Nook does not have this option, though B&N could add it with a software update as did Kobo with their Touch Reader. Both have quick pages turns by E-Ink standards.


Buttons and Controls

The Nook Simple Touch has physical page turn buttons on both sides of the reader. The Kindle has no hardware page turn buttons.

Both have a home button of sorts and a power button. The Kindle Touch's power button is at the bottom, sticks out a bit and is easily actuated. It's easy to accidentally reboot the device if you leave it standing on its bottom edge in an exercise bike's book holder or a desktop bookholder that doesn't tilt the device and back off its bottom edge.

Winner: Nook Simple Touch


The Kindle Touch has a basic (very basic) MP3 player, can play Audible (owned by Amazon) and has text to speech if allowed by the publisher.
The Nook doesn't do audio, period and has no speaker or headphone jack unlike the Kindle Touch.

Winner: Kindle Touch

eBook Viewing and Formatting Options

Both readers have 3 line spacing and margin options, and plenty of text sizes to choose from. The Kindle has a single font with standard, condensed and sans serif option (sans serif means there are really 2 fonts, 1 serif and 1 sans serif). The Nook comes with 6 fonts. I prefer having a selection of fonts, but the standard Kindle font is very readable and attractive.

Winner: Nook Simple Touch

eBook Formats and Shopping Options

The Nook Touch is an ePUB reader, and that's a more open standard in so far as you can get ePub books from a variety of stores including Google Books, the Sony Reader Store and KoboBooks.

The Kindle supports Amazon Kindle and mobi only. If you wish to purchase books, you're pretty much locked into Amazon.

Library books are available for both platforms now.

Free public domain books are available for both platforms.

Winner: Nook Simple Touch

Battery Life

E Ink reader last weeks on a charge, and both the Kindle Touch and Nook Simple Touch will last quite some time on a charge. That said, B&N claims up to 2 months on a charge if you read 1 hour per day and Amazon claims 2 months with a half hour reading per day (half the battery life of the Nook Simple Touch).

Winner: Nook Simple Touch

PDF Presentation and Handling

Both support PDFs, though I really don't recommend 6" E Ink readers for PDF viewing because the screen is too small to read 8.5 x 11" formatted documents without lots of zooming and panning. Zooming isn't fast on E Ink given the slow refresh rate vs. LCDs.

Though neither impress us for PDFs, it's interesting to see how differently they approach PDFs. Combine these two and you're approaching the Sony PRS-T1's more advanced PDF capability.

First, neither has landscape mode, which is unfortunate because it's easier to view non-book/novel PDFs in landscape.

The Kindle has a pinch zoom feature that maintains the layout but requires a good deal of tedious panning.

The Nook Touch offers a large number of font sizes that break the page layout. This makes text readable (great for novels), but technical PDFs become a mess with illustrations that are out of place and formatting gone with the wind.

The Kindle offers contrast adjustment for PDF viewing, though I don't find it terribly useful (you might).

You can bookmark and add notes and highlights in PDFs with the Kindle Touch. You can only bookmark with the Nook Simple Touch.

Winner: Kindle Touch, though I wouldn't recommend either eReader for serious PDF viewing. Get a Kindle DX Graphite or an LCD tablet. Or get the Sony PRS-T1 if you must have a small E-Ink eBook reader and wish to view lots of PDFs.

Web Browsing

The Kindle has a web browser, which is handy for Wikipedia and Google lookups. It's forever buried under the "Experimental" section of settings. It's no joy browsing on E Ink given the lack of color and slow refresh when scrolling, but it's there when you need it to look something up or download a book.

The Nook Simple Touch HAD a web browser too. It was hidden, but if you used the system-wide search feature and entered a URL, it would launch the web browser and take you to that URL. Oddly, with the 1.1.0 update that just came out, Barnes & Noble removed this back door to the web browser. Goodness only knows why since this is a WiFi only reader it doesn't cost them anything if you browse the web on the reader.

Winner: Kindle touch

Kindle Touch vs. Nook Simple Touch Comparison Smackdown Video

Don't miss our: Nook Simple Touch Review

Amazon Kindle Touch Video Review and First Look


Lisa Gade
Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview

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