E-Ink fans rejoice: there's a new technology that will change your reading experience. Unless you're lucky enough to only read on the beach and outdoors on sunny days. The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight means never having to futz around with those little gooseneck book lights again. The reader handles ePUB and PDF eBooks and documents and it has a 6" Pearl E-Ink display as well as hardware page turn buttons. Other than a change in the trim ring and the GlowLight, it's identical to the Nook Simple Touch.
Rather than an improvement in Pearl E-Ink technology, this is an added sidelight with a super-thin diffuser layer over the screen that makes for fairly even white light. No, it's not like Sony's attempts at side lighting that didn't look good: this is a completely new tech. The LEDs reside at the top edge of the screen and the diffuser spreads the light downward. Barnes & Noble calls this a screen protector, but it isn't exactly that. In fact, it may be slightly more prone to scratching than a standard E-Ink display. You can't and shouldn't remove it (you can't actually see it anyhow) and you shouldn't add your own screen protector on top.
The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight was released in early May, but stores still rarely have stock. B&N often seems to have trouble making inventory available for new product releases. But it's starting to filter into stores now, and you can order it online for $139. That's $40 more than the Nook Touch sans lighting, and you get a charger in the box with the GlowLight Nook for your added cash outlay.
Compared to the standard Nook Touch, the GlowLight model has slightly less contrast. I'm very picky when it comes to my E-Ink screens and it doesn't bother me nor do I feel it makes reading less easy on the eyes. It's really a small difference and the incredible usefulness of the lighted screen offsets the minor loss of contrast. You can adjust brightness using a slider, and when you find the sweetspot, the display doesn't seem to glow unnaturally, rather it's just easier to read and sharper. And no, the light doesn't look freaky as the B&N posters and web images might lead you to believe.
Here's our Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight video review. Our full review will follow in the coming days.