The two ebook reader giants are at it again. With the release of Amazon’s latest reader, the Kindle Oasis, the company aims to stratify the field with a $290 price point. Although a slew of new features and a killer design will justify the price for some, the eyebrow-raising jump in cost may dissuade some potential buyers. Barnes & Noble, however, chose functionality over funds with the Nook Glowlight Plus, which is certified to meet the IP67 standard for water and dust-resistance. Let’s compare the two to see which is best for you.
Back in 2013, when Amazon went head-to-head against Barnes & Noble, the Kindle Paperwhite came out on top. Can the device’s spiritual successor hold the throne, or will the Glowlight Plus snatch victory away? Check out the detailed spec comparison below and decide for yourself.
Nook Glowlight Plus
|Size||5.6 x 4.8 x 0.13 – 0.33 inches||6.4 x 4.7 x 0.30 inches|
|Weight||4.6 ounces||7.2 ounces|
|Display||6-inch Amazon Paperwhite touchscreen with E Ink Carta and built-in backlight||6-inch E ink monochrome touchscreen with built-in backlight|
|Resolution||1,440 x 1,080||1,430 x 1,080|
|Storage||4GB; free Cloud storage for all Amazon content||4GB; 2GB reserved for Nook store content|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, 3G with support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password protection||Wi-Fi, limited 4G LTE|
|Battery Life||Up to 8 weeks with leather charging cover attached||Up to 6 weeks|
|Supported File Formats||PDF, AZW, AZW3, TXT, unprotected MOBI||PDF, ePub|
|Marketplace||Kindle Store||Barnes & Noble Store|
|Availability||Shipping June 7 – Amazon||Available now – Amazon, Barnes & Noble|
|Operating System||Kindle OS 5.7.4||Nook|
|DT Review||4 out of 5 stars||N/A|
Design and Usability
In terms of design, the Oasis truly is a cool, refreshing, refuge in a sandy desert of homogenous ebook readers. The Oasis boasts an unusual design, with a thin black bezel that runs the length of one side and creates a space for the return of page-turning buttons on the other side. The buttons and light weight of the Oasis make it the best ebook reader for reading one-handed.
The wide part of the bezel is also the thickest part of the Kindle — if you could call 8.5 millimeters “thick.” The other side of the reader is ridiculously thin, and measures a mere 3.4 millimeters, which is about half as thick as an iPhone 6. The Oasis is also incredibly light at just 4.6 ounces, though the leather charging case tacks on an additional 3.8 ounces. It’s comfortable to hold and feels undeniably premium.
The release of the Nook Glowlight saw Barnes & Noble do away with the physical page-turning buttons, a choice that remains present on the Glowlight Plus. The Plus, which is clad in a brushed aluminum shell, is also substantially heavier than the naked Kindle, weighing in at 7.2 ounces. The cream-colored bezel is a nice touch, though, and it’s designed to emulate the off-white color of physical pages.
The bezel has a slightly rough texture to it, so that it won’t slip from your grasp, and the metal back makes it feel almost like an iPad. It is wider than the Kindle and looks more like a traditional ebook reader with its wide bezels. The absence of page turning buttons will also count against it for some.
The Glowlight Plus, however, isn’t just built for couch-bound bookworms. The entire device is IP67-certified, meaning it’s built to withstand both water and dust. So, ironically, if you’re planning on taking your ebook reader to a literal oasis, you’ll want to stick with the Nook.
Although the Nook is waterproof, Amazon’s Kindle Oasis wins this contest with its revolutionary new design, easy-to-use page turning buttons, and crisp screen.
Winner: Kindle Oasis
Performance & Features
Though both readers come loaded with a host of tools to make your reading experience better, the Kindle still holds the upper hand in terms of software functionality. Returning on the Oasis is Amazon’s X-Ray technology, which allows readers to highlight a word or phrase and search the rest of the text for relevant copy.
The Oasis also automatically displays definitions above complicated words to streamline your experience, and just in case you end up needing to check the dictionary, the device saves your search inquiries in a Dictionary Builder and even allows you to quiz yourself with digital flash cards. The device also translates highlighted passages into a laundry list of different languages.
The Glowlight Plus is the first Nook to include B&N Readouts, a program cooked up to give you something enjoyable to read, no matter how much time you have on your hands. Readouts utilizes the data that the Barnes & Noble store has collected about your reading preferences in order to present you with free access to select passages, from any number of different books and publications.
One of the biggest advantages the Glowlight holds over the Kindle family is the fact that it’s compatible with ePub files, meaning you can easily borrow books from local libraries. The Kindle is designed largely to use its own custom file type, which is fairly limiting — though Amazon’s selection of available titles available still dwarfs B&N’s. Thankfully, both readers are capable of viewing PDF files.
Though the Kindle Paperwhite featured a light sensor that automatically adjusted the screen brightness based on the surrounding ambient light, the Oasis returns to a manual brightness slider. Same goes for the Glowlight Plus. The Kindle’s screen does look crisper than the Nook’s, though, and its battery lasts two weeks longer, if you’ve got the cover on.
Winner: Kindle Oasis
Models, Pricing, and Ads
There is only one Nook GlowLight Plus model. It costs $130.
The Kindle Oasis is set to have two models — one with 3G connectivity and one that’s limited to Wi-Fi. The base cost for the Wi-Fi model is an extravagant $290, and the 3G service model comes in at a cool $360. The base cost for both includes “Special Offers,” however, which amount to advertisements on the lock screen and within the main interface. To remove the ads, you have to pay an extra $20.
Spending $130 on an ebook reader is a good investment. Spending $290-$380 on an ebook reader is a statement — one that most people can’t afford to make. Based on price alone, the Nook wins, though, personally, we think that if you’re going to buy an ebook reader to last you for the next 5-7 years, you’ll want that Kindle Oasis.
Winner: Nook Glowlight Plus
In 2013, when we pitted the OG Nook Glowlight against the Kindle Paperwhite in an epic ebook reader encounter, the Paperwhite came out on top as a result of its higher resolution, deeper list of features, and cleaner design. Three years — and one model — later, Kindle still holds the upper hand in terms of software functionality and ergonomic design. However, Barnes & Noble’s decision to outfit the Nook Glowlight Plus with a more rugged design is a step in the right direction, and signals the company’s intent to target a slightly different audience than Amazon (bathtub readers, we’re looking at you).
On top of that, the enormous price gap between the Oasis and the Glowlight Plus is impossible to overlook. In terms of value, it would probably be more reasonable to compare the Glowlight Plus with the Kindle Paperwhite. Despite the Kindle’s obvious advantages, $150 is too big of a discrepancy to ignore.
For that reason, we’ll recommend the GlowLight Plus to those who want a waterproof ebook reader for a reasonable price, though the Kindle Paperwhite is a solid option for those who want a Kindle, but can’t afford the Oasis. However, if you really want to get the best ebook reader ever made and you have $300 to spare, the Oasis is the best ebook reader you can possibly buy.