Barnes and Noble's Nook
Overall, I like the Nook. Since I got my Nook, I've found myself “unplugging” from the computer and reading more. I like my Nook so much that the day after I got mine, I ran back to Barnes & Noble and bought my wife a Wi-Fi Nook. If I had to make the purchase again, I'd have gotten a Wi-Fi-only Nook myself, as I've used the 3G to purchase a book exactly once. The Nook's shortcomings aren't showstoppers to owning one, unless you need to rely on its Web browsing ability or need the fastest in screen refresh—in which case you probably shouldn't get any E Ink e-reader. It's hard to go wrong with the Wi-Fi Nook at the current $149 price point, and although the extra $50 for the 3G probably won't bankrupt anyone, it's more gimmicky than functional, as it's not very hard to find Wi-Fi around for downloading books. At any rate, if you're in the market for a dedicated e-reader, check out the Nook.
Managing Your Content with Calibre
Calibre is a cross-platform open-source program that's designed to manage electronic books and other texts. It'll convert between e-reader formats as well as PC formats, like PDF and HTML, and it will download cover art and other e-book attributes automatically from the Internet. It's really easy to use, and it syncs with the Nook flawlessly. If you have a lot of pre-existing content in other formats you want to put on your Nook, Calibre's the only way to go.
Softrooting the Nook
The Nook is an Android device, and as such, is capable of being “rooted”, giving you full access to the hardware via the removal of software constraints. The softroot for the Nook is fairly easy to do, and you can do simply by downloading and installing a couple firmware bundles. After your Nook's been softrooted, you'll have the ability to change the launcher's main menu icons, as well as install other Android apps like Pandora. There are a couple Nook-specific applications as well: Trook (a way to download books you already own via Wi-Fi outside of the Barnes & Noble store) and Twook (a Twitter client with many of the same faults as the Web browser app). Note that at the time of this writing, new Nooks with serial numbers starting in the 1003 series are not compatible with the current softroot. Take care and check with the NookDevs site (see Resources) before attempting a softroot. If in doubt, don't do it!
Bill Childers is an IT Manager in Silicon Valley, where he lives with his wife and two children. He enjoys Linux far too much, and probably should get more sun from time to time. In his spare time, he does work with the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but he does not smell like garlic.
Bill Childers is the Virtual Editor for Linux Journal. No one really knows what that means.
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