Our top favorite e-book e-reader has been the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite; How does the Kindle compare with new Nook from Barnes & Noble? This is our Kindle versus Nook showdown for best e-reader 2019.
Let’s see what we get with the new Nook tablet that is available now for pre-order (about $130) through Barnes & Noble, with deliveries well in time for the holiday season. We’ll do a features comparison to see which wins out.
Price – Tie
At $130, the new Nook 10.1 and new Kindle Paperwhite are priced the same.
Screen – Paperwhite
Nook now has its largest display at 10.1 inches, measured diagonally. It is an LCD screen, using “IPS” (In Plane Switching) which provides a high display quality, with excellent color rendition and good viewing angles.
You get 1920 x 1200 Pixels Resolution, which equates to 224 pixels-per-inch (ppi).
The Paperwhite is a mere 6 inches, about 40% smaller than Nook. It’s screen uses “FPL” (Front Panel Laminate) with electronic ink (E-Ink Carta).
The Kindle has 300 ppi, 1440 x 1080 resolution, with 16-level gray scale (no color on Kindle). There is also a built-in light (12 LEDs) with adaptive light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness. You can also manually set the light level.
When looking specifically for a reading device, it’s nice to have something that has characteristics similar to physical paper. Using e-ink, for electronic paper, the display reflects light like paper. E-ink is much easier on the eyes for prolonged reading.
We found that reading on LCD devices like the Nook or iPhone gave us eyestrain / headaches after a short period of time. And with e-ink readers you don’t have the issue of “blue light” , which can make it more difficult to get to sleep.
Taking all this into account, even though the Kindle screen is smaller, the text is crisper and reading is much easier. We like the Kindle best for pure reading.
Battery – Paperwhite
After prices and screens, the item that buyers are most interested in is the battery life. This is a little bit of an unfair comparison since the Nook is an active LCD display and the Kindle is a passive e-ink.
For a tablet, the Nook has a relatively long-lasting battery. You’ll easily get over 8+ hours of just reading, and closer to 7 hours of mixed us (e.g., reading, web browsing and video watching). The time difference has to do with how much more the processor has to work for other tasks, and how much Wi-Fi is needed for streaming or surfing.
But the Paperwhite will give you about 21 hours of reading (that’s about an hour a day, every day for almost a month). It’s not so much that you’ll get 3-times the usage out of a battery, it’s more that for a long plane or car ride, you don’t need to worry about finding a charger along the way.
When you do need to charge, the Kindle gets to 100% in approximately 4 hours from a computer via USB cable or fully charges in less than 3 hours with a 5W USB power adapter. The Nook takes about 25% longer (about 4 hours with the 5W charger).
Portability – Paperwhite
Given it’s smaller size (6.3″ x 5.6″ x 0.32″) the Kindle is a very light 6.8 oz. This is lighter than most paperback books!
The Nook is 10.31″ x 6.22″ x 0.38″ and weighs just over a pound at 16.19 oz.
We like how small and light the Kindle is, and how easily it slips into a purse, back-pack or even a jacket pocket. Sorry, Nook.
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Connectivity – Tie
All Kindle devices come with Wi-Fi built-in. Amazon also offers a “Wi-Fi + Free Cellular” upgrade, with no monthly fees or commitments for the cellular. Basically, Amazon pays for cellular connectivity so that you can download content for free just about anywhere in the world.
The Paperwhite supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b/g/n, with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
Nook has more legacy Wi-Fi wireless connectivity (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac) and handles all the same security protocols. It’s other Wi-Fi advantage is that it supports Dual-Band (2.4GHz/5GHz), whereas Kindle is only 2.4GHz.
Both have the same Bluetooth 4.1 LE (“Low Energy”).
We’ll call this one a tie, since for all practical considerations in an ereader these are the same.
Memory – Nook
The standard Nook comes with 32GB memory built-in, compared with just 8GB for the Kindle. Amazon sells an upgraded Paperwhite with 32GB of internal memory (about $50 more).
The Nook accepts an optional microSD card, to add on up to 256GB of additional storage. This is important for a tablet where you may want to store multi-media file (e.g., movies, music, photos, etc.) and apps.
The Kindle doesn’t have a memory card slot, so you’ll have to decide at purchase if the 8GB will be enough or to pay extra for the 32GB device.
While we find that 8GB is more than sufficient for reading materials (magazines, comics, and audiobooks) on the Kindle, it’s great that Nook starts out with 32GB for their base price.
Cloud Storage – Tie
Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free, unlimited cloud storage for purchases through their systems:
- Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
- All Nook purchases are stored for free in the NOOK Cloud.
Libraries / Books – Paperwhite
Amazon lets you choose from their enormous library of eBooks, including more than a million titles under $4.99, and over a million titles at $2.99 or less. There are many thousands of authors that also publish Kindle books for $0 (e.g., free).
If you are Prime Member, each month you can download one of six editors’ picks for free (released before the official publication date). The downloaded titles are yours to keep, so even if you can’t finish the book in a month it’ll always be there for you later.
Amazon also offers the “Kindle Unlimited” service ($9.99 / month). It’s basically unlimited reading and unlimited audio book listening across all of your Amazon devices.
Barnes & Noble also has a vast library of books priced from $0, to $2.99 , to $4.99 and more. We didn’t find the site to be as user friendly as Amazon, and the selection seemed a little more limited from our searches.
With a “B&N Membership” ($25 / annual) you do earn points and get a 10% (or more) discount on ebooks, so this could be a consideration if you read a lot.
Regarding free books loaned out from your Public Libraries. Many libraries will allow you to check out up to 10, 15 or even 20 books at a time for usually 2 to 3 weeks. Some allow for automatic renewal if there is no one else requesting that copy. This is a great way to sample and read a lot of books, and is totally free (not even any fines, since the books are automatically digitally returned for you!).
From our sampling of about 50 libraries, nearly all of the books were available in Kindle format (you transfer the digital copy from the library to your Amazon account), a small number were “computer only” type formats and very few were Nook compatible.
However, you can always get a library app like “Overdrive” which supports over 2 million (and more each day) books from the libraries.
The cost of what I save in using library books rather than purchasing more than makes up for the cost of a Paperwhite each year. And since like over 90 million Americans, I have an Amazon Prime Membership, I may be a little biased on this point since I get the additional free books each month.
Paperwhite is the winner in this category.
Cameras – Nook
The Nook has a Front Camera and a Rear Camera. Both are 2 MP (Mega-Pixels).
No cameras on the Kindle. No need to say more on this …
Miscellaneous – Depends
If you can still find an actual store, you can read NOOK Books for free on your NOOK for up to one hour per day in B&N Stores. So get comfortable with something from their cafe, and enjoy the free read!
The Nook comes with pre-loaded GooglePlay. This gives you access to millions of Android apps, games, movies, songs and more. With Google Play, the Nook is more than an ereader. It’s your entertainment hub right at your fingertips, instantly accessible wherever you go.
For tablet type tasks, you can attach a keyboard to the Nook using their exclusive pogo-pin connectors. In less than a second, insert your portable keyboard cover for an on-the-go laptop; or have hands-free video calling and streaming while you charge up, connected to your dock.
The Paperwhite is IPX8 rated to protect against accidental immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes. This is great for reading by the poolside!
Amazon devices feature “Audible” ($14.99 / month), where you can have the story read to you. Just pair your Kindle with Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to your story. You can try it out free, and also get 2 Audible Originals and 1 Audio-book every month with the Audible Subscription.
Best E-Reader Is – Paperwhite
For a dedicated e-reader, we are still going with Amazon. You can order their enhanced new Kindle Paperwhite (about $130), which is even better than the previous generation.
You may want to also read our review of the Top 6 Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader Accessories