Barnes & Noble Nook gaming and web browsing impressions

Playing some Sudoku and reading Engadget on our Nook? Yeah, we are! Obviously, after hearing about the Nook 1.3 firmware update this morning, us bookworms nabbed the latest software to check out the added features. The over-the-air update took about a total of ten minutes from start to finish, and when the e-reader had restarted the new Games, Wi-Fi, Audio, and Web shortcuts were more than obvious on the main menu. The browsing experience, which is clearly marked beta, is very similar to that on the Spring Design Alex -- you input the address on the touchscreen and an expanded view of whatever site you're visiting appears on the E-Ink display. You can use the LCD to navigate the page, though the physical page turn buttons work as well, which is actually a nice trick. It isn't the fastest browsing experience, but it'll definitely be useful for quickly reading some news or checking the weather when you are near a WiFi network – we got a page not found message over 3G.

As for the Sudoku and chess games, it's all pretty standard -- the boards appear on the E-Ink screen and you use the touchscreen to input numbers or move pieces. We weren't near a Barnes & Noble to check out the borrow-a-book feature, but the navigation seems to have gotten even snappier since the 1.2 update, and the lower screen is refreshing noticeably faster. Our early verdict? Those Best Buy shoppers are getting a heck of a much better Nook than we did a few months ago. %Gallery-91603%