Amazon Kindle Paperwhite vs. Barnes & Noble Nook Touch With GlowLight

Today Amazon announced its successor to the Kindle Touch and competitor to the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight. Both devices use front-lit e-ink displays, but how the two devices compare to one another?

Both devices has similar features, but come in at different prices and have different ecosystems. Amazon took a bit longer to come to market with its front-lit eReader, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better than the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. It simply means the two companies work on different upgrade schedules.

Kindle Paperwhite vs. Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight

Kindle Paperwhite vs. Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight

Display

Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite uses a new display that Amazon had to develop itself. Like the Kindle, Amazon calls the display a Paperwhite display. It has a higher contrast ratio than the E-Ink Pearl display in the Kindle Touch and other Kindles. The new display also has a 212 ppi density, Amazon won’t give the exact resolution, but it is higher than the 800×600 resolution on previous Kindles.

Read: Paperwhite is the Kindle’s Retina Display

The Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight was the first eReader with a front-lit display, but it uses the same display as most older eReaders. The GlowLight display has a resolution of 800×600 with 16-level grayscale. Simply put, the display is the same as the last generation Kindle Touch, which makes it inferior to the Paperwhite display.

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Kindle Paperwhite Contrast

The Kindle Paperwhite.

Hardware

Amazon and Barnes & Noble take very different approaches to how users interact with the hardware on their devices. On the Kindle Paperwhite Amazon did away with the only button on the Kindle Touch, the home button, and kept it super thin. Amazon wants users to use touch for all interactions, and seems to think thinner, lighter devices are easier to hold.

Barnes & Noble does use a touchscreen in the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, but it also lets users interact with the device via buttons on either side of the screen. With the buttons users can page forward or back without putting their fingers on the display. The back of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight gives it an easy grip. It’s not as thin as the Kindle, but it is arguably easier to hold for long periods of time.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

Connectivity

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight only offers WiFi connectivity so users can’t purchase books or sync progress unless they connect to a free public WiFi hotspot. The Kindle Paperwhite comes in a WiFi model and a 3G model with free data to buy and sync book progress. If connectivity anywhere is important, the Kindle Paperwhite is the winner.

Ecosystem

The books and other media available to users are incredibly important for eReaders. Amazon has a large selection of books including most New York Times best sellers. It also has Kindle Singles and Kindle Direct Publishing for shorter and independent books. These books are where the difference is between the two devices. Many independent authors choose to go with Amazon because of its popularity. Amazon Prime users can also get one book for free a month, only a few worthwhile books are available, but it’s a feature that’s exclusive to Amazon.

Amazon Paperwhite

Amazon offers lending and Prime borrowing.

Barnes & Noble still has a large selection of popular books for its Nook devices, but it doesn’t seem to have nearly as many independent books. Well-known authors will offer their books to Nook users, but less known writers tend to skip the platform or release their books on the service after they’re released in the Amazon store.

Price

Amazon undercuts Barnes & Noble with the Kindle Paperwhite with Wi-Fi by offering it for just $119. That model comes with Special Offers, however, and the version with no ads costs $139. Amazon also has a 3G model for $179 with Special Offers or $199 without.

The Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight only has one model without ads, and it costs $139. That’s the same price as the Paperwhite without ads.

The Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight each bring different benefits to the table, and for users looking to upgrade the decision may be as simple as which device is in their hands now. New shoppers should compare their favorite books and ask themselves if they need mobile connectivity.

We expect the Kindle Paperwhite will be available in retails stores in a few weeks so you can make your own judgement on display quality.

Comments

  1. Aurora says

    As a counter for the amazon prime note, Barnes and Noble have a Free Fridays blog that you can get a free e-book a week for nooks. Sometimes the books aren’t great, but I have found some interesting new authors from their selections.

  2. Jason Bateman says

    Barnes and Noble Has nearly Three times the number of books newspapers and Magazines available in the e book store, why isnt this ever mentioned?

  3. Renate says

    The math on the display works out to probably 768 x 1024 vs. the Pearl’s 600 x 800.
    I don’t know why Amazon is shy about quoting pixel count.
    I hope that B&N comes up with a whiter, similar resolution screen.

  4. Milind says

    One other huge difference is the format of the books. Nook uses the open epub format which allows you to get books from other sources – notably libraries. Although I have started noticing that a few libraries are now offering Kindle format as well. Plus, you can sideload content much easier on the Nook. From an ecosystem perspective, I think the Nook is stretches ahead of the Kindle.

    However, the display on the Nook glowlight is underwhelming. It’s distracting, uneven and dim. The Kindle Paperwhite seems to be a much better display and unless B&N releases a new Nook with a display as good, I think ultimately, this will heavily tilt the scale towards the Kindle. While I may have to jump through some hoops converting books in Calibre and getting them on the Kindle, at the end of the day, that’s what you want to spend your time on – reading.

  5. Casey O says

    One major reason that I chose the Nook over the Kindle was the format support that Milind mentioned. Additionally, I love the fact that the Nook has a micro SD card slot. So I can download thousands of classics (more than I could ever read) from sites like the Gutenberg project in epub format, stick them on an SD card and read to my heart’s content. I don’t like the idea that I would have to send a doc or pdf through Amazon’s send to kindle email address to have it converted to be viewable. Plus there was that whole debacle with Amazon deleting purchased books (ironically 1984 and other Orwell titles) from customers’ kindles. No thanks. I don’t like the idea of anyone remotely erasing any of my content.

    For me it was a toss up, due to file format support between the Nook and the Sony (who ironically seem to have learned their lesson after Beta and support most major formats on their readers). In the end I went with the Nook because I like the form factor. I actually like that wider picture frame sides. It’s easier to hold. I don’t accidentally hit the screen and turn the page. The rubberized exterior gives a secure grip. I’m sure B&N will come out with an updated light and screen on their glowlight Nook and that’s when I’ll upgrade but until then I’m still very happy with my original Nook Simple Touch.

  6. Readie says

    It looks to me that the Nook Touch w/Glowlight is better overall than Kindle Paperwhite. The ability to use SD cards is what first pulled me towards the Nook. Amazon’s limitations and hoops that the user has to jump through, just to do what should’ve been already included, is further steering me away from the Kindle. If the Paperwhite still hasn’t solved the PDF display problems plaguing the Kindle Simpletouch (the reason I avoided buying the Kindle, previously), then it will have to be the Nook, for me.

  7. Johnson says

    The next step in the kindle invention is the transperancy of 2 different shape’s of pixel (hexagonal and octagonal) over lapping each other on the display and also having the ability to change and hold the size, shape, and orientation inside a hexagonal pixel.

    Thanks jeff bezos

  8. Martha J says

    Kindle Paperwhite price does not include the power adapter; it must be purchased separately for $9.99. Nook Touch w/ Glowlight comes with power adapter included. So for those who need an adapter, the Kindle is more pricey.

    • nathan118 says

      If it uses the same microusb that the kindle touch uses, then lots of people already have that available. I have it next to my bed for my phone, and another on my desktop computer.

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