Inside the E-Book Wars: The Nook in Depth (Part 4)

By William Stanek
November 30, 2009 | Comments: 3

William Stanek here, continuing the e-reader discussion with an in-depth look at the Nook from Barnes & Noble. Anyone who's been watching the e-reader and e-book market knows, the Nook is the latest entry in this highly competitive space where Sony, Amazon and now Barnes & Noble look to be the global leaders. In the last three posts, I've explored many of the Nook's features, now let's look at it's audio capabilities.

nook2.png

Audio playback is a great extra feature of the Nook. Supporting the MP3 format allows the Nook to be your MP3 player--and it's a pretty good one let me tell you that right up front! You can listen to audio while you are reading a book, shopping at the online store, etc. If you want to listen on headphones, you can connect your headphones to the built-in universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack.

If you don't have your headphones, you can listen to audio using the built-in mono speaker. While the idea of a mono speaker may not seem very appealing, it is important to remember most other e-readers don't have any speaker at all. On the plus side, the mono speaker works well with audio books and other spoken word audio content.

The MPEG 1 Layer 3 audio encoding (MP3) format is a quality audio format. Related files end with the .mp3 extension. The reader supports MP3 files with a bit rate of 32 kilobits-per-second (kbps) to 320 kbps and a sampling frequency of 22.05 kilohertz (kHz) or 44.1 kHz.

With bits rates, the higher the bit rate, the higher the audio quality and the larger the file size. Bit rates on the low end of the scale are suitable for voice-only recordings, such as spoken-word audio books while higher bits rates are better suited to music. For example, a bit rate of 128 kbps provide fair quality for music while a bit rate of 192 kbps provides good quality for music.

As an interesting aside, the sampling frequency determines the number of times per second the music waveforms are captured digitally. The higher the sampling frequency, the higher the quality and the larger the file size. A sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz provides CD quality audio. A sampling frequency of 48.0 kHz provides studio quality audio.

With MP3, a 60-minute audio CD encoded at 128 kbps uses about 57 MB while the same CD encoded at 192 kbps uses about 86 MB. When converting audio, don't choose a bit rate or sampling frequency that is higher than the bit rate or sampling frequency used to store the audio originally. You'll waste space and won't get fidelity improvements.

Because audio playback is separate from the display features for reading, you can play audio while you display pages of a book. On the top of the reader, you'll find a headphone jack that you use to connect headphones. Playback quality is very good, especially when you are playing high quality audio recordings

Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide.

William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com

PS

Thanks for the noise! Want to see more on e-readers, make more noise!


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3 Comments

Wow, thanks for the heads up on the Nook!
You covered some parts I didn't know about, it definitely made want a Nook. They should ship to Europe >_

More ebook updates are appreciated :)

Thank you Eiji for your comments!

hey could u possibly tell me how to get my headphones to play the music?? i downloaded the music but the headphones never play it?

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