Rebecca Isaacs is a writer and an educator. She covers all sorts of products, from video games to e-readers and light therapy alarm clocks to standing desks.
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Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs
Smooth plastic design
Warm light to ease blue light reading
Bezel buttons for easy reading
Higher pixel density
Disjointed home page
Lower battery life
While it’s not as solid as its competitors in terms of battery life, the GlowLight 3 is still a serious contender in the e-reader market.
We purchased the Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3 so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for the full product review.
With all that time spent indoors, I’ve returned to a pastime favorite of mine: reading. A product of Barnes & Noble, the Nook GlowLight 3 is an e-reader with both blue and warm light, so your eyes won’t feel like sandpaper after hours of trying to decipher text. It’s lightweight and features page turn buttons on both sides, making it easy to tear through books. After 25 hours of testing, I’m really happy that I decided to swap to this e-reader, despite some flaws. Read on for my thoughts on design, the display, the store, software, and the verdict.
At 5.0 x .38 x 6.93 inches (LWH), the GlowLight 3 is a little larger than other e-readers, yet still easy to store in a bag for travel or that long subway commute. That increase in size comes with a thicker bezel, so it’s easier to grip with its smooth rubberized exterior.
Two specs really set the GlowLight 3 apart from other e-readers on the market. Most e-readers ditched buttons on the bezel for a touchscreen experience. The GlowLight harkens back to the older days of e-readers, offering four buttons to enhance the reading experience. These buttons make scrolling through or casually reading any book or magazine a lot easier, as you don’t have to shift your finger to press the screen each time you want to flip a page—or 20.
Normally I wouldn’t mention the setup process because it seems fairly self-explanatory, but in setting up the GlowLight 3, it gave me the option to register via social media, i.e. Facebook or Gmail. I clicked on these, and the device told me these options had been revoked and I needed to make a Barnes and Noble account, instead. I created one, but it seemed counterproductive to have to create yet another account when they offered this social media option.
Crisp, clear letters can mean the difference between happy eyes and that unpleasant sandpapery feeling that can happen after hours of reading. The GlowLight 3 prepped for this and has a 300ppi display. As a result, the letters are sharp, crisp, and quite frankly, beautiful. If you end up reading long hours and the sun slips past the horizon, simply press and hold the logo button on the front of the e-reader, and the signature GlowLight will turn on. That said, the light cannot be controlled and adjusted from this button. To adjust it, you’ll have to go in through the settings and adjust it.
Ambient technology ensures that you not only have just a light, but you can adjust the warmth to your liking.
Ambient technology ensures that you not only have just a light, but you can adjust the warmth to your liking. This is especially great if you’re working on computers all day and just need something soothing to read by. For the casual reader, the GlowLight is perfect for reading at all hours of the day and night.
If you end up reading long hours and the sun slips past the horizon, simply press and hold the logo button on the front of the e-reader, and the signature GlowLight will turn on.
That said, the six-inch display isn’t the greatest for anything besides text-heavy books. I wouldn’t recommend reading a cookbook on this, not only because it’s not waterproof, but also because flipping a page while cooking is difficult since recipes are sometimes multiple pages. And, in deciding to finally read “The Umbrella Academy,” I found myself squinting at tiny black and white letters of the comic.
I wouldn’t recommend reading a cookbook on this, not only because it’s not waterproof, but also because flipping a page while cooking is difficult since recipes are sometimes multiple pages.
One more thing to note about the display: it’s incredibly slow. I would press the button to wake up the display, and there would be times where it would take a minute to pop up, if at all. On more than one occasion, it refused to turn on completely. It wasn’t until later that I realized the Nook was trying to restart itself. It didn’t bother me, but for impatient users, it could be problematic for those who want to tap the power button and get straight to reading.
The GlowLight 3 offers two complimentary books after setup, but as much as I love Charles Dickens, I wasn’t quite feeling such heavy literature as “A Tale of Two Cities.” Clicking a shopping bag icon on the homepage took me into the Nook Store. Similar to the famous Amazon Kindle, the Nook Store offers deals on books for $2.99 and under, ranging from cookbooks to Ransom Rigg’s “Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” series.
Better yet, the Nook Store offered more than just daily deals. I could go in and not only categorize these books, but I could also see what was trending as well as other topics, like Black Voices and Nook Recommendations. Better yet, each category I surfed was genuinely different, with barely any repeats. Even in those different categories, you can sort the lists to show the newest releases and best-selling books.
One of my biggest complaints is that the GlowLight 3 is not friendly toward the Libby or Overdrive lending apps.
Tucked off to the side of the e-reader’s main interface was a Readouts feature, which offered excerpts from magazines, books, and essays. It’s solely designed to open your world and offer you a fast, enriching reading experience that can help you learn more about different genres you may or may not like. If you miss a day—no worries. I could go back a day and read the previous day’s excerpt and buy the book if I found it intriguing.
One of my biggest complaints is that the GlowLight 3 is not friendly toward the Libby or Overdrive lending apps. In order to get a library book onto these devices, you’ll have to plug it into your computer and follow the steps on the Nook’s website, which involves using Adobe Digital Editions. It’s a great disappointment so many steps are required when trying to support your local library.
The Nook offers 8GB of storage for books, promising thousands of storable books onto your device, but it’s not that simple. 1.5 GB is reserved for device software, so in reality, I was left with only 6.5 GB of space. It’s still a lot of space for books, but it felt deceptive to tell me that there were 8GB while a rather large chunk was pulled away to make the e-reader run smoothly. If I run out of storage, I can always store books I’ve read on the Nook Cloud.
I was promised up to 50 hours of reading time with the GlowLight 3. Once again, Barnes and Noble offered this number under deceptive circumstances. Going to their website, a little blurb mentions that it’s only 50 hours if I read only 30 minutes per day, flip one page every minute, and only use 10 percent of the GlowLight.
I hate to break it to Barnes and Noble, but that’s not the way I read, having polished off two books in five days alone. As such, the battery life falters under heavier reading circumstances. Even as I sit here and type, my battery life sits at 39 percent after reading for three hours per day the past few days. This battery life isn’t bad enough that I feel compelled to drop this device in favor of other e-readers, but it is something to consider if you’d prefer an e-reader that’s capable of handling the long haul.
The Nook GlowLight 3 can be yours for the price of $120. It seems like that’s a steep price to pay, but one very important thing to note: outside of the Kindle line, this is one of only two e-readers on the market that offer Ambien GlowLight technology, filtering out blue light for a more comfortable reading experience. This technology alone makes the $120 price tag a fair bargain.
In terms of e-readers, there is really one gold standard on the market these days: the Kindle Paperwhite, which offers almost everything that the GlowLight 3 does—and a waterproof feature—for only $10 more. It’s hard to say that the Kindle isn’t king in the e-reader market.
Taking a closer look, however, demonstrates that the GlowLight 3 packs a similar punch, if not better, than the Kindle. The Paperwhite only offers a blue, adjustable, light for the reading experience. The Glowlight has two really big features going for it: the warm GlowLight, and the thicker bezel with physical buttons for an easier grip and page turning.
If you’re struggling to flip pages, it might be in your best interest to shift over to the thicker bezel and buttons with the Nook. However, if having that added feature to block blue light isn’t a major issue, then Kindle is your new best friend for the beach.
Despite flaws, a reasonable e-reader for most people.
There are a lot of flaws with the Nook GlowLight 3. However, the extra features, such as the warm GlowLight, and the thicker bezel, make it a reasonable e-reader for the market. Page-turning buttons also make for a nice addition to the design.
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