Barnes and Noble announces Nook with a light

April 13, 2012

Love e-ink but also love reading at night? Put away your flashlights and booklights, Barnes and Noble has just given its Nook Simple Touch e-ink reader a huge upgrade by adding a screen that glows. The new device will have a LED front light to let you see what you’re reading in the dark.

The new e-reader bridges the gap between tablets and e-readers, giving users a device that will work in bright daylight or in dark rooms. It should be particularly good for couples who have different sleep schedules.

Nook users can activate the light by holding down the Nook Simple Touch’s only button and adjust the brightness of the screen as they see fit. Even with the new feature, Barnes and Noble says the device will still be able to last one month on a single battery charge.

The Nook Simple Touch is a solid e-reader: lightweight, easy on the eyes and the perfect size to slip in a large purse or beach bag. The addition of a light is a great feature. The price point of the updated device, $139, puts it between Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle Fire tablet (or Barnes and Noble’s own Nook Tablet) — a fitting place, given that the device is aiming for readers whose needs fall between the two devices.

Despite the upgrade, the Nook Simple Touch is still not quite into tablet territory, with limited (at best) Web navigation, no capability to display color and no way to play video. But if you’ve been waffling between getting a Kindle that you can’t use in the dark or a tablet with more features than you need, this device appears to fit that niche quite nicely.

The e-reader will go on sale May 1 .

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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