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In-store support at Barnes & Noble stores
Color temperature adjustment
Large 7.8-inch screen
Barnes & Noble online catalog access for one hour
No audiobook function
Library books must be sideloaded
The Nook GlowLight Plus has a 2” larger screen than the cheaper alternative. If the one thing you were missing from your Nook GlowLight 3 was a larger display, it’s worth the price.
The most popular ebook reader options on the market are Kindles, but those aren't the right choice for everyone. If you prefer the idea of supporting a dedicated bookstore, receiving in-store support for your ereader, or buying your books mainly at Barnes & Noble, then the Nook GlowLight Plus is a great choice. With a generously-sized screen featuring a temperature-adjustable light, physical page turn buttons, and support of America's largest dedicated bookstore, it has a lot to offer. We tested it for a month to put it through its paces and see how it stacks up to Amazon's alternatives.
The black, rubberized plastic body of the GlowLight Plus is 8.3" x 5.9". It has a nice minimalist appearance but is prone to smudges just like the Paperwhite. Physical page turn buttons located on the bezel on each side of the display allow for right or left-handed users to hold the device in one hand and turn pages without having to flip it.
The GlowLight Plus can hold in excess of 3,000 ebooks.
Rated IPX7 waterproof, it will survive three feet of submersion for up to 30 minutes, and will definitely survive coffee spills or accidental drops in the bath.
The GlowLight Plus has a 7.8 inch, 300 ppi recessed screen with 19 LEDs. Inconsistent lighting created noticeable white spots on the display. Color temperature is highly adjustable from one extreme to the other. The coldest temperature light is harsh, pale blue, while the warmest light is intensely orange, neither of which we found desirable. Most users will probably prefer to stay in the middle for a paperlike experience, and perhaps warm the display for nighttime reading.
The e-ink redraw on the GlowLight Plus was a little slow. This wasn't noticeable when switching between pages in a book, but making notes, using the dictionary, and changing between menus required seconds of waiting for a flickering display to catch up.
The GlowLight Plus has a straightforward setup process that will have you reading within minutes. Simply connect to the Wi-Fi and log in to your Barnes & Noble account. You can start buying books from the Barnes & Noble store within minutes.
Choosing a Nook means sacrificing access to Amazon's huge ecosystem, but the GlowLight Plus is linked to the Barnes & Noble bookstore, so you should pretty easily find most titles, including self-published books that aren’t Amazon exclusive. Library support is far behind other ebook readers on the market, however. Libby or Overdrive are compatible, but they can’t automatically send books to your device. The books must be sideloaded to the GlowLight Plus, meaning you need to download the books to your computer and then put them on your device via USB.
You can start buying books from the Barnes & Noble store within minutes.
There is no audiobook support at all. The device does have a 3.5mm jack and Bluetooth connectivity, but that's to support the Barnes & Noble podcasts that feature interviews with authors. Unfortunately, playback for those podcasts doesn't seem to have been implemented yet. We assume that'll be added as an update.
One unique extra of the GlowLight Plus is Barnes & Noble in-store support. When you're shopping for a new device, you can go to a Barnes & Noble to try it for yourself. You can hold and compare the devices in person rather than relying on reviews and pictures. Once you buy a Nook, you can use their in-store Wi-Fi to read any book from their online catalog for one hour per day.
The GlowLight Plus offers a single size, 8GB. Since there are no audiobooks to take up that space, the 6.4 GB available to store books will be fine for almost everyone. The GlowLight Plus can hold in excess of 3,000 ebooks.
The GlowLight Plus is advertised to have four weeks of battery life at around half an hour per day, but ereader battery life is difficult to measure and depends on a number of variables. Leaving Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled can drain the battery, and so can operating the device at very high brightness.
We timed our reading from full charge to depletion using settings we consider pretty average: medium brightness and warmth with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off. (As an aside, why would anyone turn the Bluetooth on? There's nothing to listen to.) After nine hours of reading, the battery died. That battery life would suit our personal reading habits, but we don’t mind charging every few days or once a week.
At around $200, the price is a little high. Less-expensive Kindles have a better UI and ecosystem, and the Kindle Oasis is only $50 more for a far better experience. If you’re committed to a Nook, there are cheaper alternatives that still offer color temperature adjustment.
Nook GlowLight 3: The Nook GlowLight 3 offers the same Barnes & Noble support and functionality at $120. The most noticeable difference between this device and the GlowLight Plus is screen size. The GlowLight 3 has a smaller 6” screen. Despite being a few years old at the time of writing, it does offer color temperature adjustment.
Kindle Paperwhite: It’s impossible to mention the GlowLight 3 without comparing it to the $130 Kindle Paperwhite. The Paperwhite doesn’t have color temperature adjustment, but it is waterproof, and the display size is right in the middle of the two Barnes & Noble ebook readers we’ve mentioned.
Kindle Oasis: If the price tag of the GlowLight Plus isn’t what’s scaring you off, consider spending a little more for the $250 Kindle Oasis. The Oasis has a premium build and a unique shape that's comfortable to hold for hours. You’ll gain access to Amazon’s huge ecosystem, including audiobooks, but lose access to Barnes & Noble.
Big screen, niche value.
If you're already committed to the Barnes & Noble ecosystem or prefer to sidestep Amazon's massive reach whenever possible, the GlowLight Plus offers a big screen (and color temperature settings) at a reasonable price. Otherwise, Amazon's more feature-rich offerings are probably a better fit, especially if you're looking for a premium (though more expensive) ereader.