Although not as well known as Amazon's all-conquering Kindle ereaders, the Nook series was the first to bring in a backlight display with the original Simple Touch GlowLight in 2012.
It was well received but, predictably, ousted in sales terms by the introduction of Amazon's own backlight-toting Kindle Paperwhite.
That hasn't stopped US bookseller Barnes & Noble, the company behind the Nook brand, from refining the Simple Touch GlowLight model with a new white design and some enhanced features.
Now known as simply the Nook GlowLight, the new model has been available in the States for some time but has finally arrived in Britain with an easy-on-the-eyes price of £89.
The design remains similar to the original Simple Touch GlowLight, opposing the blocky right angles of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura HD with rounded corners and a soft-touch plastic exterior.
The chassis is edged with a light grey silicon trim and the entire device feels comfortable to hold even for long periods of time.
Nook has shaved plenty of excess weight from the GlowLight in the last couple of years, slimming down to 175g from the 197g of the original Simple Touch GlowLight. As Nook is keen to point out, it's also 15% lighter than Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite.
The Nook GlowLight operates with a touchscreen so there are only two physical buttons. There's the "n" button (the Nook brand logo) on the front of the device at the base of the 6-inch e-ink screen. It acts as a universal home button while using the device and will also activate the backlight after a two second long-press.
The second physical button is a power switch found on the left edge of the device, poking through the silicone trim. A microUSB port is the only connection, found on the base of the GlowLight and acts as a charging port and a means of transferring content from or to a PC.
The touchscreen means the old page-turn buttons have been removed which, in my opinion, gives the whole exterior a sleeker and more appealing design.
The Nook GlowLight uses the .epub open standard format and won't recognise the widely popular .mobi format – meaning you won't be able to transfer any over from your PC if you have them saved locally.
It's not really a problem though as for the most part you'll be buying books, magazines and newspapers directly from the Nook store using the in-built Wi-Fi. There's no shortage either; the UK Nook store currently boasts over three million fiction and non-fiction titles as well as newspapers, comics and periodicals.
It's also worth noting that if you're currently an Amazon Kindle owner, anything you've purchased via Amazon's store won't work on the Nook, and vice versa. That's hardly a surprise, and it could make the difference between sticking with an ecosystem or making the switch.
A slight downside over the previous Nook Simple Touch GlowLight is the omission of microSD expandable storage. Instead there's 4GB of native storage with 2GB of that given over to content from the Nook store, enough for 2,000 titles.
Available to buy from various popular outlets including Asda, Sainsbury's and Currys/PC World, the different design and lower price will appeal to some, but how does the Nook GlowLight stand up when it comes to usability and performance?
Reading on the device is what it's all about and Nook has increased the screen resolution from the 800 x 600 of the old Nook Simple Touch GlowLight to 1024 x 758 with 212ppi for sharper text and no page flashing when you're in-book.
The backlight can be set to varying degrees of brightness in the settings and will illuminate to that level when you hold down the "n" button on the front.
Its overall capacity has been upped since the last model but it always remains comfortable and I was able to read for a long period with the backlight enabled without inducing any eye strain.
And you'll be reading for a long time too. Nook hasn't specified exactly what battery is tucked away inside the GlowLight but says you'll be able to keep reading for up to eight weeks on a single charge.
The anti-glare nature of an e-ink display is what has always bolstered ereaders above tablets and I found the Nook's screen to be perfectly adequate, even in direct sunlight. Measuring in at 165 x 127 x 10mm, the Nook GlowLight is a shade smaller than your average paperback book.
The rounded edges go some way to making it appear smaller as well. The silicone rubber trim around the edge of the device isn't sealed down however, and a fingernail can exploit gaps that could be susceptible to dust or liquid.
It also means you can remove the rubber band and swap it for another colour - you can currently choose from blue or red - although you'll need to fork out some extra cash for the pleasure.
Like any good content-delivery system, the Nook comes with a recommendations feature that will curate titles on the Nook store that might appeal to you, displaying it all in the "picked for you" section.
Working in a similar way to Amazon's Kindle ecosystem, all your purchases are stored on the Nook cloud server for use on multiple devices. So you'll be able to get to your library on a Nook HD tablet or through the Nook Reading apps on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8.1.
Handily, each device can be synced to your library so that you can pick up reading the same book on a new device right from where you left off on the old one. There's also the option to sample any book on the Nook store before purchasing it, so you can get a taster of the latest Stephen King without having to stump up the cash right away.
Currently the UK Nook store boasts over three million titles, which is about on a par with Amazon's offering, with new releases and special offers added frequently.
The decision to remove the microSD card slot is a bold one. Ultimately, with cloud storage and the ability to store 2,000 books locally, you're never really going to need it. It's a nice feature to have but if it means a cheaper device with minimal compromise then I can see the thinking behind it.
Barnes & Noble hasn't stuck the Nook GlowLight full of features, and the new and improved screen still doesn't best the Kobo Aura HD in terms of pixel resolution. But there's a like-ability to the device that comes from its appearance, price and simplicity to use – more on that later.
Ereaders are very good tools for fulfilling one specific task: reading, and the Nook GlowLight has all the features you'll need, while managing to keep the overall price of the hardware lower than Amazon's offering.
It doesn't feel quite as robust in the hands as the Kindle does, but I was very happy with the low weight and smaller dimensions. It was easy to carry the Nook GlowLight around all day in my bag and forget I had it in there at all.
Interface and performance
When you turn the system on, the screen is split horizontally into your Reading Now and Now on Nook sections.
Reading Now shows you the last three titles you opened – be they book, magazine or newspaper – in chronological order with the covers of each displayed. The Now on Nook segment is a scrollable selection of curated content based on your reading habits.
It's a large amount of homescreen real estate given up to what is essentially advertising, but understandable given the upfront cost of the ereader. Barnes & Noble needs to make money and the best way of doing that is to get you to buy more books. Hence the obvious suggestions of what to buy next greeting you as you turn on the device.
Three tabs at the bottom for the screen offer you the option to go to your main library, the Nook shop or to search for a specific title. A small notifications panel in the top right lets you access settings like Wi-Fi, backlight brightness and the current battery life.
It's a remarkably simple layout and having the covers displayed as tabs in the My Library screen works well with the touchscreen. They're bigger targets to prod at than the menu layout, which is available as a separate view.
Once you're into the shop, you can choose to view books, magazines, newspapers or My Wishlist from four buttons at the top of the screen. The middle portion of the display is given up to various offers, new releases and editor's picks. At the bottom is a selection of lists including bestsellers, new releases and the newsstand.
If you're after something specific, you can tap the magnifying glass icon in the top-right hand corner and enter your query using the on-screen keyboard. Despite looking quite small at first glance, the Nook GlowLight's keyboard is easy to operate and much easier than the non-touch keyboards found on earlier ereaders.
If you want to get social you can link the Nook GlowLight up to a Facebook, Twitter or Google account to share quotes from whatever you're reading with your friends. Depending on the sort of online circles you mix in, it's probably a sideline feature at best.
LendMe is another social feature Nook offers; letting you lend books in your library to any friends you have that also own a Nook device. Not all titles are compatible with it though but the ones that are will be visible by default to the Nook friends you have in your contact list.
Gliding through the interface isn't as seamless as we've come to experience on modern tablets. There's about a one second delay between swiping the touchscreen and the action taking place. Loading a fresh book from My Library takes around five seconds.
Inside the Nook GlowLight is an 800Mhz processor and a customised version of the Android 2.1 operating system. For the purposes of reading books it's adequate, but it's worth pointing out that the 1GHz processor inside the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite helps that device feel a touch more responsive.
Nook has done away with the standard blank page refresh and instead you'll get a smooth page fade as you make your way through the book. It's a lot less distracting and I also noticed less ghosting on blank pages as I read.
Although the font has been optimised for the 6-inch display, there is a range of six different font styles to choose from and you can also adjust the size to your preference.
No matter where you are when you're using the Nook GlowLight, there's a small bookmark icon present in the top left-hand corner.
Tap it, and you're taken right back to the page you were last reading in whatever your current book is. It's a handy way of always getting back to the core function of the device no matter what you happen to be browsing.
Battery life and connectivity
The Nook GlowLight uses a non-removable rechargeable battery that, Nook says, will last you for a period of eight weeks on a single charge.
Of course, that's providing you stick to a half-hour of reading per day and keep the backlight and Wi-Fi off.
Sticking those features on will have a detrimental effect on the battery but you'll still get at least a couple of weeks of good reading time from the GlowLight.
A strong plus point of ereaders has always been the longer battery life afforded by an e-ink screen and the GlowLight is no different. It'll suit the purpose of a ten day holiday or a long weekend away without needing a charge.
While I was content to leave the device on standby, you can long-press the power button on the left hand side of the device to turn it completely off, thereby saving even more juice long-term.
Wired connectivity comes in the form of the single microUSB port that acts as both charger and file transfer.
Because the Nook runs on open source Android you can simply drag and drop files from your PC to the device.
There's no Bluetooth or NFC as the Nook GlowLight relies exclusively on Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity, although, due to the limited features, there's not much more you'll use it for than browsing and buying books through the Nook store.
Although at first I was a bit dismissive of the Nook GlowLight (I thought it looked a bit like a child's toy) I actually grew to like it over the five or so days I spent reviewing it.
It fit snugly into my bag and felt comfortable in my hands when I pulled it out for a spot of reading on the bus.
The backlight is a great feature, and I wouldn't buy or recommend any ereader without it. On the Nook GlowLight it was crisp and evenly distributed across the screen and great for reading in low light. What I particularly liked was getting this feature for less than £90.
The battery life and simplicity of the interface are also strong positives here and it's to be commended that Nook shaved space and weight from the device but kept the battery life unaffected.
There is a noticeable delay and sluggishness when it comes to the touchscreen. Loading up the store, downloading and opening books all takes time and it's something that comes as a surprise having grown familiar with speedy tablets.
Also, it goes without saying that Barnes & Noble doesn't have the visibility or the resources that Amazon does. So while books are competitively priced on the Nook store, I'm not convinced that the US bookseller will be able to match its retailer rival when it comes to special offers and exclusive content.
The Nook GlowLight isn't better than the Kindle Paperwhite, but it is a viable alternative for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's cheaper upfront by £20. If you're looking for just a standard ereader with a backlight, then this will suffice.
Secondly, the design is different enough from Amazon's sharp, black rectangle to give you a moment's consideration. If, like me, you've had enough of black and grey gadgets and like the thought of a clean white look, then this could be for you. Yes, it's massively subjective, but all I'm saying is consider it.
As an ereader the Nook GlowLight is a perfectly serviceable device – it has its drawbacks and there are omissions, such as microSD support. But if you're looking to pick up a reliable ereader with all the basic features you'll need and a bulging library of titles to take advantage of, then this is £89 well spent.