An updated model of the glow in time for mothers day is likely. I would guess improvements in the lighting are on tap. If you have looked at the current model and find the lighting ok then your best price might be right now. I expect other updates to be minor, these are pretty mature products.
I think for the last two years the new device has been announced in May.
I expect a higher resolution screen, which means sharper text, so I'm really looking forward to the next device (though hopefully they offer a version without the light).
I would agree on losing the light and they do have a new e ink screen out with a whiter background, I would hope it would be released by March...
There are two main possibilities
1) B&N wants to go for another '4-6 months of lead' over the new Kindle and announces in March/April. I actually think this is likely.
2) It releases in middle of the year.
What improvements there might be - that's a bit of a wild card.
Things like unbreakable screens and flexible displays and color eInk are probably a few years away.
That leaves better contrast and better lighting. Given that B&N was the first one with a lighted screen I would not be surprised to see it do something else cool.
So waiting would be my advice.
At my store we're betting on a Spring release, likely for Mother's Day.
That said they give us no information that the general public lacks for when they plan on releasing new devices. We also don't know what features they may add.
Personally the features I would like to see in the next NST product
1) ability to add our own fonts. Though this is a software thing not a hardware limitation.
2) higher contrast screen. I.e. a more white background and a darker text.
3) ability to load library borrowed books from the device. As with fonts this is software releasted, I've pointed out in the NST/NSTG forums that this could be implemented now, but was met with less than stellar replies. Despite the fact that it's possible with other apps if you root your NST/NSTG.
4) Different color options for the device itself. And not just the bezel like the 2011 Black Friday "Special Edition" NSTs. Not so much for myself, but because so many people have asked "is this the only color it comes in?" that I feel it should be an option.
5) Along the same lines as 4, the ability to rotate the screen on the NST. I can't fathom why it's an issue but people seem to want it.
6) Better lighting, and by that I mean two things. 1) white light, 2) more evenly distributed light, thought the NSTG is really good with this, it could be better. Though I suspect battery life would have been impacted since they would likely have had to add lights to the bottom or sides of the screen. These are nitpicky issues. I suspect the tint in the lighting is due to the off white screen rather than the lights themselves so if they implemented 2 then I think this would be a non issue.
Things I hope they don't add in the next model
1) Audio. No one seems to really miss it from the original Nooks and it's adding weight to a device that's focusing on being lightweight.
2) removal of the light. Don't like the light? Don't use it. It's not like it's always on, nor is it an automated thing. And honestly it would make sense for B&N to remove the NST from their Nook line up and just go with the NSTG then phase that out when they release something in Spring.*
3) Increasing the size of the device, it's good as is. I could see increasing the screen size if they could keep the footprint of the Nook the same.
*I say phase out as in no longer producing, not no longer supporting.
Ability to rotate screen, as well as a improved PDF viewer built in, and make the browser more visible.. (if it works for Kindle....)
Color e-ink is a hack... Rather have the high resolution display used for color e-ink before the color filters thats like Ultra HD and have high quality greyscale,, 7in would be nice but id be happy if they put in a better PDF viewer, supported rotation, and allowed easy access to the browser even if its labeled "experimental" like the Kindle
I've decided to wait, in part because I can't get a clear answer on whether the screen 'tears' problem is fixed, and I hope the next version will address that.