NOOK HD: The Missing Manual – Tips and tricks for getting the most from your e-reader tablet – #bookreview

NOOK HD: The Missing Manual
Preston Gralla
(O’Reilly – Kindle, paperback)

Prolific and top-notch technical writer Preston Gralla is back again, this time with a handy “Missing Manual” that explains how to use two Barnes & Noble e-reader tablets, the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+.

His 18-chapter, 464-page book is divided into eight well-written parts containing generally good illustrations. The parts are:

  • Part  One – The Basics – A guided tour of the hardware, showing you how to use the NOOK as an e-reader and tablet.
  • Part Two – Reading Books and Periodicals – Shows how to use the NOOK’s many reading tools.
  • Part Three – Managing Your Library – How to buy books, newspapers, and magazines and track them in your personal library. Includes how to borrow and lend books from your NOOK, too.
  • Part Four – Apps, Media, and Files – Includes “how to find, download, install, and use thousands of apps…” and how to watch movies and TV shows and listen to Internet radio stations or play music from your own collection. Also, how to transfer files to your NOOK and use its built-in music player.
  • Part Five – The Web and Email – Shows “how to browse the Web and send and receive email using any email account.”
  • Part Six – Getting Social – How to keep track of your contacts, how to use the NOOK’s social features, including NOOK Friends. Also discusses using the NOOK on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
  • Part Seven – Advanced Topics – Shows how to tweak some features and how to root your NOOK so it can “run like a standard Android tablet.”
  • Part Eight – Appendixes – These cover troubleshooting, accessories for the NOOK, file formats that a NOOK can handle, and things you can do with a NOOK at a Barnes & Noble store.

Gralla notes that the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ can be used with microSD cards to expand the available memory for your stuff. The HD comes in 8 GB and 16 GB versions. The HD+ has 16 GB and 32 GB versions.

The HD’s screen is 7 inches.  The HD+ screen is 9 inches. The HD+, he adds, also “has a slightly faster processor than the NOOK HD–a 1.5 GHz dual-core speed demon. The extra oomph is needed to power the HD+’s larger screen.”

If you’ve gotten a NOOK HD or HD+ or are planning to get one soon, definitely add this book to your must-have list. Also, Gralla urges,  “strongly consider buying a cover or case. A cover protects your NOOK and its screen from damage, so they’re well worth the small investment.”

Si Dunn

NOOK Tablet: The Missing Manual (for NOOK Color, too) – #bookreview #in

Nook Tablet: The Missing Manual
By Preston Gralla
(O’Reilly,
paperback, list price $19.99; Kindle edition, list price $15.99)

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color are stylish and powerful portable devices that blend the functions of e-reader and computer. They have many useful features, but they aren’t shipped with a detailed user manual. (B & N wants you to go to a support website.)

Preston Gralla, meanwhile, is a fine writer who has authored more than 40 books, including several in O’Reilly’s popular The Missing Manual™ series.

His latest, Nook Tablet: The Missing Manual, is both well written and heavily illustrated and does a fine job of showing and telling how to get the most from a NOOK Tablet and its cheaper, less powerful brother, the NOOK Color.

It would be nice for nervous new users, however, if the following assurance had been positioned much sooner in the book rather than on page 320: “Out of the box, the NOOK’s privacy and security settings are configured to make sure that you’re safe and secure. So most likely, you won’t need to change any settings.” (But Gralla then shows how to increase the default security, if you desire, by deleting cookies, deleting web browsing history, and blocking pop-ups.)

Gralla’s 471-page book has 17 chapters and three appendices and is organized into eight parts:

  • Part 1, The Basics – Covers setting up, charging and registering a NOOK, finding its plugs, microphone and controls, using and troubleshooting wi-fi, using a NOOK at a Barnes & Noble store, using gestures to control the device, changing your wallpaper, and other setup basics.
  • Part 2, Reading Books, Newspapers, and Magazines – Focuses on the NOOK’s reading tools, including how to use bookmarks and notes, how to change fonts and text sizes, and how to search inside a book, newspaper or magazine. Has a chapter on kids’ books and shows how a NOOK can read a children’s book aloud or record your own voice reading a book to your child or children.
  • Part 3, Buying, Borrowing, and Managing Your Library – Shows how to research and buy or borrow online reading materials and track them in your personal library.
  • Part 4, Apps, Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photographs, and Files – Starts with streaming media first, including Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. Then shows how to download and use apps. According to Gralla: “Anything you can do on a traditional tablet, you can do on your NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color. (And yes, that includes Angry Birds.)” This part also delves into how to get music, photographs, videos and documents into your NOOK and how to move files between your NOOK Tablet and your computer.
  • Part 5, The Web and Email – Shows how to browse the Web with a NOOK and how to send and receive email using virtually any of your email accounts.  Also shows how to manage your email with a NOOK and how the NOOK handles attachments such as documents, PDFs and photographs.
  • Part 6, Getting Social – Covers using the NOOK Friends app and using the NOOK on Facebook and Twitter. Also shows how to import and manage your Google, Gmail, and Facebook contacts.
  • Part 7, Advanced Topics  – Focuses on settings you can change and also how to “root” your NOOK. You can adjust sounds, customize the way the keyboard works, alter the settings of the Home screen and make other changes. If you choose to “root” your NOOK Tablet, you will “replace its operating system with a version of Android that lets you install any app you want (via the Android Market), something you can’t normally do with the NOOK.”  But Gralla notes: “Barnes & Noble frowns on this practice, which is why doing it voids the warranty.” B & N also has built “anti-rooting” technology into the NOOK Color, he adds. He carefully does not give you the exact steps for “rooting,” but mentions that such information can be found on the Web.
  • Part 8, Appendixes  – Appendix A focuses on “Maintenance and Troubleshooting.” Appendix B deals with “File Formats,” listing the file types a NOOK can handle. And Appendix C zeroes in on fun things to do with a NOOK while visiting a Barnes & Noble store, “such as read books free for an hour.”

If you are struggling to decide between a NOOK Tablet and a Kindle Fire (or some other device), books in O’Reilly’s The Missing Manual™ series can be a relatively affordable way to get the detailed information you need in a pleasant and helpful format.

If you’ve already ordered or received a NOOK, you likely need this book.

Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.