Cool Random Tech Stuff

Random ramblings of a tech enthusiast

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Nook Color Review – Highly Recommended

Photo from Barnes and Noble: Nook Color Website

Bottom line 
At $250 this is a great small tablet for the average user and reader. A web browser is included and an April 2011 update is supposed to bring Flash support and Angry Birds out of the box, among other improvements. If you are a heavy reader, maybe consider the Amazon Kindle. If you want the latest and greatest technology, consider the iPad, any of the Android Honeycomb Tablets, or the soon to be released BlackBerry Playbook. If you want something just to look up random things on the internet and play the occasional game and read a few books, newspapers, or magazine then the Nook Color may be the choice for you.

Specs
7-inch, 1024 x 600 IPS display
800 MHz TI OMAP 3621 CPU
512 MB of RAM
8GB internal flash storage
microSD card slot, supports up to 32 GB
802.11b/g/n WiFi
Light sensor on front (was removed in the latest hardware family)

Surprisingly, the specs on the Nook Color are decent, even for it being about 4 months old as of this writing. It won’t be the top of the line specs but it works well.

Review
I ordered the Nook Color because I wanted a lightweight, small tablet device to do the occasional web browsing or Twitter surfing. I read online about the Nook Color and it’s development community (XDA Forums) where the community rooted the device and loaded custom ROMs on the device. This would allow for unlocking more functionality out of the device. But more on that later.

As a device out of the box, the Nook Color does an incredibly good job at bringing casual content in a color format. The Nook Color is first and foremost an e-reader designed to deliver content from Barnes & Noble, including books, magazines, and newspapers. The device also supports PDF viewing, which is good if you have any publications that you receive outside of the Barnes & Noble world. This was beneficial for me as I had some IEEE Magazines in PDF format that I was able to load on the internal memory. The color screen allows for the inclusion of newspaper and magazine graphs and pictures similar to their print equivalents. The color LCD screen will not allow for extended reading sessions. If you are a reader who likes to read for hours at a time, you might want to consider the Amazon Kindle.

The Nook Color has the Barnes & Noble Nook shop included and is where you can search for your content to purchase. It has recommendations depending on what you buy. For example, I signed up for the Wall Street Journal and the shop recommended other newspapers such as The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The shop is presented in a nice graphical format that provides a enriched media experience. There are also offers from the Barnes and Noble cafe; I currently have an offer for a free Chocolate Mint Mousse Parfait with the purchase of any venti beverage at participating B&N Cafes. You have to use WiFi to download any of the content or to browse the web as there is no 3G connection on the device.

The device itself weighs in at just under a pound, which makes it light enough to hold while reading. The device itself feels sturdy and I do not feel like I am going to break it even though it is a thin device. The form factor also allows you to hold it in one hand while not being too large and heavy like most of the 10-inch tablets on the market now.

Extra features preloaded on the tablet are Chess, Sudoku, and Crossword games as well as Pandora and a built-in music player that comes in handy if you listen to music while reading. The built in speaker for the device is not of high quality and is relatively quiet but gets the job done. You probably want to wear headphones if you want to hear higher quality music. The device also allows you to add accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail to share information about what you’re reading on the device. It should also be noted that HSN has said the Nook Color will get an update in mid-April that will bring Flash support and various applications, including Angry Birds. These added improvements will bring added value to this tablet/e-reader device.

Common User Recommendation
The Nook Color is a great device for the casual user. If you don’t plan on doing serious gaming then this is the tablet for you. The size may be small, but you can read the internet content you want. Read full featured magazines and newspapers, read books, listen to music, play the occasional crossword or chess game, and do basic web browsing on WiFi. (Please note that this device is not available with a cellular modem, so you have to have a WiFi connection for any browsing or downloading of content). With the update in Mid-April, this device should become a real option for more people. It provides a great user experience with half the price of the 16GB WiFi iPad.

Power User Recommendation
Root! If you are a power user, you should root this device. There are instructions out there that will guide you in rooting it. You are then able to load applications from the Android Market, including the Amazon Kindle app if you’d like. You can load the GMail application, Google Calendar, and a lot of other applications. This expands the functionality tremendously. This may be similar to the Mid-April official update from Barnes & Noble, minus the Amazon Kindle app. With rooting the device you can also load different ROMs on here, including a preview of the Honeycomb OS that is seen on the Motorola Xoom.

For half the price of the lowest Apple iPad, this device can bring a lot of fun and use for those that like to tinker with devices. It may have a smaller screen with no cameras or gyroscope, it still is very useful.