Barnes & Noble invents a Nook that glows in the dark

Solving one of the most vexing e-reading problems — how to read in bed without keeping your sleeping significant other awake — Barnes & Noble has unveiled the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, an E Ink e-book reader with a front-lit screen.

As anyone who's tried knows (I have and I do), reading in bed in complete darkness with a tablet can cause blindness in about five minutes, and a tablet's lighthouse-like glow can be brighter than a big-screen HDTV across the room or a tiny nightstand lamp.

But using patent-pending technology (shhh! it's a secret!) B&N has managed to create smooth, instant-on front-lighting that can be adjusted by touch and that barely effects battery life — even with the GlowLight on (and Wi-Fi off), B&N asserts it will get a month of average ereading on a single charge. The preceding Nook Simple Touch promised two months of regular reading (with Wi-Fi off), so, really, your battery life is getting slashed in half, but does that really matter when measured in month-long increments?

According to DVICE editor Kevin Hall, who saw the GlowTouch technology in person:

"GlowLight is a simple and subtle thing but it makes a world of difference. Looking at it in the dark isn't harsh as it is with a tablet. It pretty faithfully emulates the same reading experience you'd have with an E Ink reader anywhere. It's easy to use, too: hold down the "n" button for a couple of seconds to turn it on, do the same to turn it off, and you can adjust for the desired brightness. The lighting element lives in the top of the device and front-lights the Nook's screen evenly."

B&N has even managed to lighten the e-book reader load. Nook with GlowLight weighs 6.95 ounces compared to the non-GlowLight Nook Simple Touch's 7.48 — both less than the 7.5-ounce Kindle Touch.

With the GlowLight, E Ink readers now outshine tablets — literally and figuratively — in any lighting situation, at least for e-book reading.

The Nook with GlowLight can be pre-ordered right now for $139 with a rough release date of May — that's $40 more than the non-GlowLight version — and B&N promises it'll be available for Mother's Day.

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