Barnes & Noble's new Nook ereader is cheaper but with tradeoffs

Barnes and Noble Nook GlowLight 4e
(Image credit: Barnes and Noble)

Barnes & Noble is still in the ereader game, and is going after fresh recruits with a much more affordable NOOK GlowLight 4e.

This new model, which is a follow-up to last year's GlowLight 4, drops the price $30 to a more attractive $119.99. Still, the savings do come with a performance cost.

Mid-tier eReader

The gap between the GlowLight 4 and 4e isn’t all that wide. For starters, the new model still has a 6-inch E Ink screen that is resistant to scratches and annoying glare. The ‘GlowLight’ in the name refers to GlowLight Illumination which is the backlight that is powerful enough to support reading in bed without an overhead light or to counter the bright light of the sun, according to Barnes & Noble.

Continuing with its similarities, the GlowLight 4e also sports physical buttons on the side to turn the on-screen page, Wi-Fi connectivity, and access to B&N Readouts which is a library filled with free book excerpts and articles. But this is where the similarities end.

The GlowLight 4e’s display outputs at 212 DPI, or dots per inch, while the older model has 300 DPI (Most Amazon Kindle readers offer 300 DPI). This number refers to the resolution of the screen; the higher the DPI, the sharper the image. The GlowLight 4e also lacks Night Mode, which in the GlowLight4 allows the screen's LED lights to change color to a more eye-comforting orange. Space on the newer device is smaller too with just 8GB of storage max.

The battery life has a rather vague time frame. Barnes & Nobles claims the GlowLight 4e can last for “weeks on a single charge.” We contacted Barnes & Noble to ask for clarification on the specific amount of time but it didn’t return our call. E Ink is known for sipping power, but the LED-based GlowLight and Wi-Fi connectivity will, if both are used often enough, eat battery life more quickly.  The GlowLight 4e launches on June 7 and it’s currently available for pre-order right now.

Analysis: Finding a niche

Since 2017, a lot has changed in the world of eReaders. Barnes & Noble teamed up with Lenovo to release the NOOK 10-inch HD tablet. Essentially, it was a tablet with the NOOK app installed for eBooks and Dolby Atmos too.

TechRadar has a list of the best eReaders for 2022 if you’re interested in purchasing one. Not a single NOOK model made it on the list. Other readers offer better displays and storage options, but with higher price tags. There is a niche for mid-tier eReaders out there that Barnes & Noble may be able to fill with this new NOOK.

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.