BN Nook: when power button is not enough

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I love gadgets. Even though I’m not as crazed about getting the newest and greatest thing (hence absence of iPad that I just “don’t get” yet, not until the OS gets updated anyways) I still periodically buy gadgets I don’t need, but do want.
BN Nook was one of those gadgets. I was one of the first wave buyers, experiencing first-hand what it means to try to buy a “hot thing”. It meant delays, sell-outs, drama with Barnes and Noble trying to ship everything exactly the day before Christmas and fun things like that.
I even planned to “hack” the nook, and play with alternative apps in Android. Well, that didn’t really happen, but as it turned out, for the best.

The day before yesterday my Nook died. I just turned it off after connecting to the computer, and afterwards, device refused to turn on. Blank screen would flash black two times, and that’s it, nothing else happens.

After some googling I tried to use suggestions from forum thread, checked out multiple discussions, and then gave up and tried to call the helpline. At which point I understood, how badly hardware developers skimp on buttons and micro-switches.

The support call lasted more than 40 minutes. Polite support person had me try a gazillion of different combinations of pressing of exactly one button — the power button. I removed the battery, after which we tried to “push and keep pressing power button for 40 seconds” — about 8 times in total. “Press down power button for 20 seconds” — I’d say no less than 6 times. Press, hold, then tap power button. Unplug from outlet, press, hold, then plug in while holding. Tap several times. Hold down, release, hold down, tap. Each time device would blink the screen black twice, then nothing.
At that point I gave up and said that I needed to go (which was true, horses don’t ride themselves, you know), as another combo of press, hold, tap, poke power button would resulted in me using all of the curse words from all languages I speak at once, which is never a pleasant thing to hear, especially if you’re an innocent support techie, that tries to help out customer.

Why, oh why the hardware guys didn’t simply make a “hard reset” button, just like old devices used to have, where you use a paper clip to poke it once, and you’re done. For things that don’t have enough screens on them, or could “forget” how to control these screens, adding 2-3-6-20 functions to same buttons seems to be just wrong. Power button should generally do just that — power device on (with some sort of feedback) or off (also with the feedback). I wonder if Nokia should take part of the blame, along with other cell phone manufacturers, for attaching Profile Switching to the power button, which lead to that “A-ha! We can overload power button with extra functions and save 20c on little switch!” moment.

Regardless, I decided to use one advantage of BN over Amazon — local store. So the Nook was dumped into little plastic bag and brought to the Support counter at local BN store. After a couple more attempts to start the e-reader with battery removed, Gary called tech support line, spent about half an hour waiting for this and that, and got RMA #. I was thinking that I’d have to ship reader back myself, wait for replacement etc, but he helped me right on the spot. He took my old reader, gave me the new one, along with exchange receipt, and I was on my way home with new device.

Kinda like Apple’s service — bring in misbehaving gadget, get a replacement, done (except, probably, without 30 minutes of genius waiting on hold with support, but here nothing could have been done about it).

While new Nook is being charged, I will note a few other irritating moments of BN e-reader — the software weirdness.

I understand what programmers were thinking, while writing software (my current version is 1.2.0), but I don’t understand why BN didn’t do due diligence in user experience area.
– Kill the screensaver. Or at least make it optional. It’s an e-book, not a laptop. It should lay around with last opened page, instead of wasting battery showing me pretty views of cities, or lithographs of authors.
– Do give me “Go to page N” navigation option. Remember, we can easily go to, say, page 200 in a regular book. There’s not real reason not to provide something like that in electronic version. Instead Nook has “go to the furthest read point” which works kinda okay for something you’re reading for the first time. But if you read the book through already, or, God forbid, author decided to put some sort of an index at the end, you’re screwed. Furthest reading point is the very last page, and you will be dutifully taken there. Stupidity of programmer’s proportions.
– Add more format types. No question about it, if other readers can support a bigger variety of ebook formats, so should Nook
– Allow browsing. Kindle does it. Here, you don’t have any browser, which is one of the reasons why people want to root and otherwise change the software on the reader.
– Add “skip N pages” – kinda goes with Go to page N feature — if I can’t go to the page I want, at least allow me to skip 50 pages or something. Some chapters could be 100+ pages long, and flipping through all of them by clicking “forward” 50 times is a pain.

So, that’s probably it for now. Nook is fully charged and I can return to reading about werewolfs and witches on the electronic paper, instead of laptop screen.

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