Review: Instapaper for NOOK Color

I’ve been using Instapaper for years. It’s a service that lets you save online articles for later reading. Each is presented in a stripped-down, beautiful layout. It’s simple and convenient. It started as a browser-based service and most recently migrated to some Android devices, like the NOOK Color. I’ve been using it on the NOOK Color for about a week, and have identified good and bad about using the service on the device. Here’s my look at Instapaper on the NOOK Color [1. I could not figure out how to take screenshots on this thing for the life of me. Forgive the lousy photos.].

Looks

The app looks great. A simple toolbar runs along the left-hand side with four icons: Read Later, Liked, Archive and Settings. All four icons are the same used on iOS and appear in landscape and portrait orientation. Tap anyone to jump to articles in its category. Tap an article to dismiss the toolbar as the text itself commandeers the screen, save for a toolbar at the top: the Like button, trash icon, article title, text and them options and finally the action button. Again, each button’s purpose is immediately obvious.

The back button is very small and placed at the bottom of the screen. It’s not immediately obvious. Unfortunately, I believe it’s a NOOK icon and not Instapaper’s own. If the developers are forced to use it, that’s really too bad as it’s hard to find and identify.

Instapaper for NOOK Color offers two theme options: Dark Mode (white text on black) and Light Mode (black on white). There are six fonts to choose from (I prefer Proxima Nova), several font sizes, single- or double-spacing and wide or narrow margins. Finally, a brightness slider lets you determine how bright or dim the screen is.

Anyone who’s used Instapaper on another mobile device will feel at home. The developers clearly spend a lot of time and effort making it “feel” like Instapaper.

The NOOK’s Big Advantage

I love the NOOK’s size. The 7-inch screen, rubberized back and light weight (only 15.8 ounces) make it easy to hold for extended periods, even with one hand. I fell in love with reading on the NOOK long ago, so it was a given that my favorite online reading app would be most welcome. I enjoy saving articles on my Mac and reading them later on the sturdy, lightweight little NOOK.

Use

To read an article, simply give it a tap. Scroll to move through the article (no tilt-to-scroll. More on that later.) and read to your heart’s content. Synchronization is fast, as is moving between folders. It looks and behaves like Instapaper on iOS. But it doesn’t feel like Instapaper on iOS. And that’s not the app’s fault.

The NOOK’s Big Disadvantage

For as much as I love reading on my NOOK Color, the user experience is lacking. Specifically, it feels like the hardware isn’t up to what the software wants to do. Taps sometimes don’t register on the first try (or the fourth) and things like scrolling are often jaggy and slow. Fortunately, it manages to scroll through articles in Instapaper fine, once it gets going. The first swipe of a new article often hesitates for an instant, but it’s just long enough to be noticeable. Again, I suspect this is the device’s fault, not the app’s.

What Didn’t Carry Over from iOS

It’s not fair to compare the iPad and NOOK apps, but it’s also inevitable. There are some differences between the two. As I mentioned, tilt-to-scroll is not available on the NOOK. Also, the Friends and The Feature options are missing. Plus, you can’t select text for copy-and-paste. Again, I suspect that’s the device’s doing.

Conclusion

I like Instapaper on the NOOK. A lot. Imagine being told you get to eat a big ’ol cotton candy. While driving in a ’57 Chevy on a warm summer evening. It’s my favorite online reading app on my trusty little reader. Yes, the UI may be a little slow (thought it’s much worse in other apps – I’m looking at you, Netflix), but it’s so darn comfortable to hold and the app so darn good looking that I can’t disparage it. Instapaper on the NOOK Color is a winner.