Nook Color: Will it Meet Your Tablet Needs?

As a former Nook Color owner, I decided that it did not meet my needs. But I recognize it may be all the Android tablet some will ever need.

In case you are not familiar, Barnes and Noble released the Nook Color as an update to their first Nook eBook reader. They added a color touch screen and the ability to run a few apps, including a web browser and mail app, among others. The user community surrounding the device quickly hacked it to make it possible to load many different versions of the Android operating system, including Honeycomb. After rooting it and putting the full Android Marketplace on the Nook Color, users had a nearly full-fledged Android Tablet for only $250.

Is the Nook Color enough tablet for you? Some people will really like the Nook Color for the following reasons.

Nook Color

Simple and Inexpensive Web Surfing eBook Reader

The discontinued HP Touchpad aside, most usable tablet devices range from $400, up to a couple thousand for a Windows Tablet PC. So a $250 Android tablet is tempting. The HP Touchpad, which HP discontinued and sold off for $99 or $149sells well on eBay for around $300 now. People want inexpensive tablets to use for surfing the web from their couch or bedroom, in addition to a few other simple tasks.

The Nook Color offers a wonderful option for these tasks. The simple device runs a decent web browser, has a few games and entertainment apps, will fetch your email, and adds a large library of eBooks and periodicals from Barnes and Noble. And it comes with one thing the Touchpad doesn’t: ongoing support and new apps developed all the time.

The Nook Color hardware provides enough horsepower for basic tasks. What a netbook does for those needing a small cheap laptop computer, the Nook Color does for those wanting a simple Internet surfing eBook reader with a few fun apps like Angry Birds and Pandora. Someone with simple needs who likes to read will be extremely happy with the Nook Color.

Advertisement

Tinkering Tech Geeks

You know who else will really enjoy the Nook Color? People who like to play with tech toys and see how much they can hack things to get them to do what they were never designed to do. A large community of users will support your tinkering habit. You can dual-boot the thing with the stock OS remaining intact on the built-in storage while running multiple versions of Android from the micro-SD card you put into the device. Because of the way the device and its OS works, it is nearly impossible to brick the thing if you make a mistake while rooting it.

I got a Nook primarily for this reason. My wife used the stock OS and I played with Android booting from the card. I had two cards – one for Honeycomb and one for FroYo. Gingerbread didn’t run well on it by the time I got rid of it. As a Kindle owner I also installed the Kindle App, so my family actually purchased less than a dozen Barnes and Noble books and apps for the thing. If you want to, you can add a lot of great apps by rooting the Nook Color. Netflix will run on some of them, depending on which version of Android you put on a rooted Nook Color.

Nook Color Rooted

Tinkerers might find that their needs quickly push them to graduate to a more powerful tablet. I chose to upgrade to a full Android tablet for this reason. If you don’t have $400 though, a $250 toy might suffice. Be strategic and buy when special promotions happen. You might find it brand new for as low as $200. Refurbished or used Nook Color tablets can be found for less than retail as well.

Who Won’t Be Happy

A few people won’t be happy. First, if you are not a book reader, the Nook Color is not for you. Getting a Nook Color without being a reader would be like a runner buying a bicycle because they like to have somewhere to sit down after the race.

Second, people who want to primarily play games won’t be happy with the Nook Color. The iPad satisfies gamers. You may not have $500 for an iPad, but wait and save your money till you do. Gamers won’t like the Nook Color.

Third, those who want Internet access while away from WiFi obviously will be disappointed with the Nook Color. You need either a 3G iPad or something like the 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Owners of a mobile Internet device like a Mifi or who have a WiFi tethering plan on their cell phone are the exception to this.

Finally, if performance and speed are your primary desire, the Nook Color will disappoint you. The tablet doesn’t drag, but movement isn’t as fluid on it as it is on the iPad, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

If you fit the first two groups and none of those in the last four, then hit the Barnes and Noble page to get your Nook Color or go down to one of their stores.

Comments

  1. cuhulin says

    I still have my Nook Color, although I now use an Ipad.  The Nook Color has a couple other advantages and disadvantages worth note:

    Advantages: 

    1) It is more portable.  It fits in a coat pocket or most purses easily.  It also is lighter, so it is easier to travel with.

    2) The MicroSD cards work well as add-on storage.

    Disadvantages:

    1) The Nook Color is useless with a stylus.  (This is the reason I switched to Ipad.)  

    2) Magazines are significantly more difficult to read in the smaller form factor.

    All in all, though, the Nook Color is an excellent tablet at a great price.

  2. Antoine RJ Wright says

    Maybe isis something that I’ll write n later in more detail, but I am seeing that the Nook Color might be a better “growing” tablet for some than an iPad. If you will, because it starts out from e specific paradigm of an ebook reader, that lends it to grow wi the owner differently than the more “blank canvas” approach of the iPad.

    My mom has had one since Christmas and has enjoyed it for the most part. It took her a while to gt used to the idea of searching and purchasing books, but that’s now given way to wanting to write notes (she now uses Evernote on there) and a few other apps that make it a bit more tablet-like after seeing my iPad usages. I do think thayshe will grow out of it, and that will tweak her expectations of other tablets. Se’s the type of user that needs to start from a certain point, like reading, and then grow usage from there. To that end, it not only meets her needs, but also grows with what she’s getting more comfortable with over time.

  3. Brad says

    There are two big diadvantages from my perspective with the Nookcolor:

    1. Processing speed and B&N’s download speeds.  eBooks can be timely, but apps and “enhanced ebooks” are slow to download.

    2. App selection and the future of selection.  B&N has not done a good job on the app front.  The initial developer program was not what was initially announced and then appeared to be a scramble to finally launch apps.  The biggest problem is on this front . . . you need outside developers creating the apps and B&N is not attracting them very well.  The main reason is two-fold.  1) The Android OS is highly customized with alot of things blocked so ther’s a great deal of apps which will not work very well.  2) No ads program forcing developers to charge for apps they otherwise offer for free in the regular Android Marketplace.

    B&N made an initial good entry.  But as the tablet market heats up even more . . . Nookcolor won’t compete.  It can’t because it’s way too limited.  7″ is nice for reading, but 10″ is the preferred format for everything else in a tablet with consumers.  B&N’s better bet is to aggressively court Samsung, Acer, and Asus to get their app as an out-of -the-box inclusion on their tablets.

  4. jeff says

    I agree with author and most of the comments. But I’m not sure the 10″ is better than 7″. For gaming you definitely need the Tegra 2. Nook can OC to 1100, 1200, maybe even 1300 fairly easily but still not as smooth in games as the Acer A100 I picked up recently. I tried a 10″ Acer and find it too large to take with, hold with one hand to read, etc. I put Nook stock 1.3 on it just today and although it is newby friendly it is boring quickly for tablet functions. I used it for several months with CM7.03 and it was nearly perfect while waiting for others to come down and another viable 7″ tablet.

    The current NC needs an open easy to use ROM with larger icons, all B&N closed features working as well as Bluetooth, etc. ROM needs to work without nightly updates that you need on CM7. Depends on who is the user I still like to research for a good ROM and play, but now knowing how capable the hardware is, I’d like to give it to wife with a good low maintenance ROM if I could find one.

    Future NC may need hardware from other vendors or start by adding dual core CPU, then GPS, full featured Bluetooth, and maybe eventually cameras.

  5. Preza says

    Something to consider when comparing Nook Color to the iPad:

    1) The Nook is considerably cheaper, especially if you buy the refurbished Nook that comes with the same warranty as the new one.  iPad will offer more than Nook Color, but it should for the price difference.

    2) iPad does not play flash–Nook Color does.  Well, pretty much anything that isn’t Apple does. 

    3) iPad makes you manage things through the use of iTunes.  Nook lets you plug into a computer and drag and drop files like you can with tons of other non-Apple products.  Plugging an i-whatever into a computer that isn’t running iTunes is pretty pointless/useless.

Leave a Reply