Nook simple touch with GlowLight hands-on

Barnes & Noble beat out Amazon and Sony today by delivering the first E-Ink device with a built-in light, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. It may seem like a minor victory, but for E-Ink fanatics, the new Nook is a sign of things to come.

I chatted with Nook head of user experience Michelle Warvel about the new e-reader today at a hip New York City hotel. She demonstrated how the GlowLight feature works, and as you can see in the video below, it makes a big difference in the Nook’s readability in low light.

Warvel told me it took B&N some time to figure out a uniform way to light the screen. The GlowLight feature isn’t a backlight like we see in LCDs. Instead, it’s embedded in the device to light the screen from the top. Thankfully, the light is soft and easy on the eyes (hence the name, GlowLight), and it’s far less harsh than LCD screens.

Unfortunately, Warvel wouldn’t reveal when color E-Ink displays would appear, but she notes that that’s been a top request since the Nook first launched. I didn’t expect an answer, but of course, I had to ask.

The GlowLight-equipped Nook Simple Touch is available for pre-order today for $139 and will be available in early May.