Saturday, February 12, 2011

The NOOKcolor has a problem

I gave my wife a NOOKcolor for Christmas and she has had trouble with it ever since. Now I know what it is, how to reproduce it, and that B&N NOOK service sucks! But maybe this will help others.

She reads a few pages, then suddenly it stops responding. Moments later the blue bottom menu starts going up and down and up and down with no end.

As well, suddenly, words will get highlighted and the word help menu will pop up and then disappear. Or pages will simply start turning, one after another. At some point it stops responding or it just glitches with the blue menu going up and down. You cannot even turn it off the normal way.

But if you get it to go off, re-booting seems to clear it up.

It's as if the device is possessed by a poltergeist

I looked on the web and saw several other people have reported the problem. I upgraded to the latest software and the problem still remains. So today, I set about diagnosing it.

The problem typically occurs after she has read about 5 pages either in the tub or while sitting in the bathroom after a shower. But sometimes it happens while she is reading in bed. With a glass of tea by the bedside.

Moisture! ... If you touch the screen with wet fingers, you can reproduce this problem. the device doesn't have to get really wet, wet...just damp. turning the page after licking your finger may well do it. It is much more likely to occur if you touch it with two wet fingers or if you try to turn the page forward with one wet finger, then turn the page back, leaving two slightly damp spots on the screen.

Even slightly sweaty fingers after a workout or yard work are enough to glitch it.

We called 800 THE-BOOK ... their final answer was "don't ever touch it in a moist place" after they had me deregister and reboot and reregister the that was going to clear this problem up. It is actually all they know how to tell you. The woman, whom I could barely understand, also wanted to know the last four digits of the credit card number purchasing the NOOK. But that didn't work...finally I realized she meant the number my wife had used to open the account...not the same was a gift. When I did not have that she took our address as verification.

She said they had no record or notice of such a problem. She finally agreed to replace the Nook with a new one by post if I would give her a credit card number they can charge if we don't send the old unit back quickly enough.

But then I went out to my local B&N and tested my wet finger theory. I was able to successfully glitch all 6 NOOKcolor devices that I picked up and examined. A couple of fingers damp from the condensation on the outside of my iced coffee cup were enough to screw every single device up.

  • B&N has a serious problem with user experience because lots of people will read in a tub, touch it with wet or damp fingers, give it to their children to read (and we know kids are naturally walking wetnesses).
  • B&N are ignoring this problem or don't have testers sufficiently innovative enough to reproduce it.
  • B&N is wasting a lot of money on tech support people who can only tell you that you must deregister your device and reboot to see if it clears up a problem. This is indicative of very, very, poor design of both the device and the support protocol
  • B&N should take a page from Apple customer service. A few weeks ago they replaced an iPad with a broken screen for a developer friend of questions asked. And today they replaced my iPad rubber cover because it was peeling off the plastic questions asked. THAT'S SERVICE.
  • If you have a NOOKcolor, do your best to avoid having any moisture on your fingers or on the device...a steamy bathroom is enough to trigger this


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you shouldn't use an eReader in the Tub Fool.

Bill McDaniel said...

And perhaps you should learn to comprehend what you read before commenting on it. I suggest the SRI readers used in elementary school...they helped me learn to read and comprehend when I was just starting out, at age 6. Also, correct English writing requires a comma between the words tub and fool, neither of which should be capitalized in your comment. That would have been covered in sixth grade. Perhaps you missed it.

I do not use the Nook. I read in the tub with my iPad which does not mind the occasional wet finger on its screen. My post pointed out that my wife uses the Nook. And yes, she does read in the tub just as I do. Many people do and why should we not expect our next generation reading technology to deal with normal household environments at least as well as the current paper and ink technology?

Certainly, I don't expect to be able to immerse my e-reader fully... After all, it is not a watch, and even paper books and magazines suffer somewhat if dunked. But they are still legible and can actually be read, albeit not as pleasantly.

So I do not think it unreasonable that my ereader should function normally if i just touch it with a moist finger. And, as I said, my iPad does. It is not unreasonable to think any device might be touched with wet fingers in a home. The fact that I was able to discombobulate several Nooks at the store with just the condensation off a cold cup means a lot of Texas Nooks will encounter moist fingers.

As a software designer, I also find it disturbing that such an event should send the software into a barely interruptable loop. I can understand that moist fingers might cause misinterpreted signals, but why should that send the software into a loop that long outlasts the moisture on the screen. This is poor design at both a hardware and a software level.