Barnes & Noblehas had a tough time over the years. It’s valiantly competed with Amazon, but just can’t really manage to compete with Amazon’s broad selection of ebooks or the features of its Kindle software. Nevertheless Barnes & Noble continues to make new e-readers, and while it's true that they have a tough time competing with the likes of Amazon or Kobo, they still are valuable devices for those readers that prefer Barnes & Noble's services.
So how exactly does the GlowLight 3 stack up with the rest of the e-reader competition? Well on the hardware end, it's all similar, high-end hardware to the Kindle Paperwhite. On the software end is where things begin to lag behind the competition. Let's go over the breakdown.
The Hardware on the GlowLight 3 is top notch. It's got page turn buttons, blue light reducing technology, and a great screen, all wrapped up in 'soft touch plastic.'
Barnes & Noble kept it simple with the GlowLight 3. The device at first glance resembles any other e-reader and while that may seem like a bad thing, it's really not.
The standard e-reader design is thick black plastic and a plastic e-ink screen. Some more expensive e-readers use glass and metal but the plastic has its upsides. It's durable for starters. E-readers are great devices to give to kids who like to read because they're pretty limited in function which will keep your kid on track. The GlowLight 3 stays in line here with a device that's both kid and parent-friendly.
Other than the materials, the GlowLight 3 is a rectangle with a power button centered at the top and a micro USB charging port at the bottom for when your battery is running low. It's also got page turn buttons on both sides of the device so that you can comfortably use it whether you are left or right handed.
Really the only complaint that we have here is that the bezels are really thick compared to other e-readers like the Clara HDor the Paperwhite. This is, of course, subjective but make sure that this is acceptable to you before purchasing.
The display is a 300 ppi, Carta E-ink display and it doesn't disappoint. The make good on their claim that the screen is clear, crisp and 'paper like' and it's a pleasure to read on.
The main feature of the display, the feature that the device is named after, GlowLight, is similar to the ComfortLight PRO feature that is included in some Kobo devices. If you leave it on auto it will change the light from white to orange depending on the time of day.
It's a feature that, while seemingly strange at first glance, keeps your eyes from straining at night or in the early morning. If you prefer manually adjusting the light you can do that as well in the settings. Personally, I use this feature pretty much always on any device that I own that supports it.
The battery on the GlowLight 3 is similar to e-readers of the same size and will grant you weeks of battery. This is a great feature if you are someone who isn't near an outlet frequently like travelers, frequent flyers or if you are just forgetful or in a rush.
Because the battery lasts so long, this is also a device that you can toss into your backpack and have confidence that whenever you pull it out for a reading session, it is likely to still have a charge.
Ability to sideload epub books
Like Kobo, the GlowLight 3 comes equipped with the ability to sideload ebooks so that you can take your own library with you. Kobo does this really well by allowing nearly every format under the sun to be imported.
The GlowLight 3, while it doesn't allow for nearly as many formats as Kobo devices, allows the most popular ebook format which means that as long as you can keep your books to epub, you will be able to bring them over.
Because of Barnes & Nobles relatively small offering of books, the sideloading feature is the GlowLight 3's saving grace for those considering purchasing this device as their daily reading device. Unfortunately, it is overshadowed by similar devices like the Clara HD because of its limited file types.
The GlowLight 3 grants you a generous 8GB of storage. While this might seems small compared to modern smartphones, it's quite large when you consider that even after taking into account the space necessary for Barnes & Noble's software, you can still hold over 6000 books!
I've been reading for a long time and I read pretty frequently and I have about 2500 books. All but the most ambitious of readers will find this to be ample storage for any ebooks that they buy on the Barnes & Noble store or manage to bring over from their personal library.
While the hardware is top notch, a good e-reader is more than just what's on the outside. Along with the hardware, the software is the driving force behind a great e-reader and unfortunately, the GlowLight 3 just doesn't compete.
Slow and unrefined software
While the device has good hardware, the software is where things start to break down. While the GlowLight 3 has some outstanding features in the lighting and page turn buttons, the software feels relatively bare and unrefined compared to Kindle or Kobo devices.
As I mentioned earlier, the GlowLight 3 doesn't have compatibility with multiple formats like the Kobo devices do. The software is also pretty slow and we found that the shelves feature doesn't always work.
A small selection of books compared to the Kindle store
While the storage on the GlowLight 3 is good, you will probably be hard pressed to use as much as you would on a different device. The store is pretty bare and lacking in the number of titles touted by Amazon.
This is unfortunate because the device feels nice and makes you want to use it, unfortunately, the lack of store content and supported formats makes it really hard to recommend while the competition has so many great options and features.
You would think that a device with so few features might have a neat trick up its sleeve like audiobooks, but sadly this is not the case. This device is limited to just regular ebooks, which would not be a deal breaker, provided there was something else to look forward to here.
Doesn't support the range of formats that Kobo does
Okay, I've mentioned this a few times now. This device supports epub, which is good. Unfortunately, it doesn't support anything else. This means that it will be next to impossible to load your favorite visual novels, comic books, Manga and more.
While Kobo has a relatively lean store as well, the at least let you load nearly anything that you can think of from epub to pdf to image formats and more. I don't really see a good justification here as to why the GlowLight 3 is so lacking in this department since they have to know that they can't compete in the bookstore.
No USB Type C
This is something that I will forever complain about in every device until the e-reader industry catches up with everyone else and starts including current gen charging ports into their devices. As a device that is supposed to be go-anywhere and ultraportable with great battery life, it would make sense that they would also be low maintenance with their charger by including the port that you probably already charge your phone, laptop, Chromebook and Nintendo Switch with. But alas this is not the case.
Expensive for what it offers
While the performance and the features in the GlowLight 3 are mediocre at best, the device has a sticker price of $119.99. That's the same cost as the Kindle Paperwhiteand just $10 less than the Kobo Clara HD. Both of these devices outshine the GlowLight 3 in nearly every way, and if you are looking for a device that has similar features, minus the backlight, there is always the introductory Kindle model for under $100.
It seems apparent that Barnes & Noble was gunning for the Paperwhite with the price of the GlowLight 3 but it's not clear what their strategy was. It would be nice to see something that sets the GlowLight 3 apart with their next refresh.
The GlowLight 3 is a quirky device to be sure. It's got good hardware and the designed was well thought out. It can handle epub books as well as comes standard with 8GB of storage. The biggest problem with the GlowLight 3 is that it's just kind of meh. It can't keep up with its competition.
As far as recommending the GlowLight, if you are somehow tied to the Barnes & Noble store or for some other reason irrationally attracted to this e-reader, then go for it. Otherwise, I would recommend the Paperwhite from Amazon if you are looking for a more robust store or theClara HD from Kobo if you have a large library of books offline.
As always it's your turn now! Do you have a NOOK? Do you like it or do you have regrets? If you were debating which brand to go with, have you come any closer to a decision? Let us know how you feel in the comments.
- Nook GlowLight 3