I’ve been looking to play around with an Android device but didn’t want to buy a new phone with a contract (and I’m happy with my iPhone 4). What I wanted was a device that was like the iPod touch but ran Android. There doesn’t seem to be anything like this on the market. And most tablets running Android are too expensive and/or require service contracts. All except the new Barnes and Noble Nook Color (aka NC). At $249, it’s reasonably priced. Especially for a tablet that runs Android 2.1, has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen display, expansion via microSD card, etc. And no service contract.
Coincidently Christmas was coming up and I wanted to buy a new gadget for my wife. So I bought her a Nook Color for Christmas. Last year she got a Amazon Kindle which we ended up returning. She liked reading books on the Kindle but found the Kindle UI clunky and slow and wanted a device that could do more than just read books.
Right out of the box, the NC is pretty nice. The NC software is quite useable for reading books, browsing the web, playing videos, listening to music, etc. And Barnes and Noble offer incentives if you bring your NC into a B&N store: discounts, free books, etc. I was originally skeptical of the Nook but it seems like B&N has built a nice device and figured out how to integrate it with their retail stores.
If you’re willing to root the NC, it can do a lot more. Once rooted, you can install third-party Android apps (Android Market, Gmail, Google Maps, Youtube, Angry Birds, etc.) including, ironically, Amazon Kindle for Android. As a result, my wife has been able to read the books that she had bought for the Kindle on her Nook.
How does the Nook Color compare to the iPad? The NC hardware is solid but not quite as nice as the iPad. On the software side, I definitely prefer iOS over Android. And Apple’s App Store, despite some issues, is easier to navigate than Android Market and contains a lot more quality apps. And the overall quality of iOS apps is still much better than Android apps.
On the plus side, the NC is half the price of the least expensive iPad and storage can be inexpensively expanded using a microSD card. It’s more portable than the iPad. The size makes it easy to do things one-handed. And I prefer the way that Android handles notifications; definitely better than iOS. Also B&N has announced that in the near term they’ll provide an upgrade the NC to Android 2.2 and will build their own app market. So it seems like they plan to be in the e-Reader/tablet business for the long haul.