Barnes & Noble already produced the best pure eReader for me in the $99 Simple Touch, with its touchscreen, a great display that was never washed out by sunlight and two months of battery life, due to E Ink technology being used for its 6in black-and-white screen.
But with no backlight, it was no good for reading in the dark.
That chapter has been closed with Thursday’s announcement of the Simple Touch with GlowLight, a lighter 7oz version which adds a soft, adjustable glow to the E Ink display.
It costs $40 more at $139 and battery life is halved to a month, but those seem acceptable trade-offs for the first eReader that should look as great in the dark as it does in direct sunlight.
The GlowLight technology consists of small LED lights placed out of sight at the top and bottom of the screen so as not to interfere with the infra-red sensors down the sides that enable the touch functionality.
The light intensity is adjustable and turns off after 5 minutes of inactivity.
B&N says the higher price is justified as a clip light it currently sells costs $20, as does an anti-glare film for the $99 Simple Touch, which will continue to be sold. The new version has a built-in anti-glare screen.
The software is the same in the GlowLight eReader, apart from an on-screen slider for adjusting the brightness. There is a new grey edging to the device and it weighs 6.96 ounces (197 grammes) versus 7.48 ounces (212 grammes) for the Simple Touch.
Pre-orders begin today and the device is expected to go on sale in early May. The Nook remains US-only, but Barnes & Noble has been striking partnerships overseas that are expected to lead to international launches later this year.