Friday, February 03, 2012

Nook Color

When Amazon and Barnes & Noble announced their new tablets everyone focused on the price difference between the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. Few people noticed that B&N already had the Nook Color, a tablet for the same price as the Kindle (after B&N dropped the price). Recently they sent me a $50 off coupon for the Nook Color making it only 2/3s the price of the Kindle.

The Nook Color started as a color ebook reader but it has received a couple of software updates this year. It is now a functional tablet.

My wife got one last Summer to take on vacation. I've been testing it the last few weeks since the last software update.

The Color compares fairly well with the Kindle Fire. It is slower and a bit heavier but it has a better display and volume buttons. It can also take Micro-SD memory which makes it more expandable than the Fire.

The web browser is the standard Android browser. It works fairly well and supports Flash. YouTube videos work fine which means it meets my minimum test for a tablet. Pinch to zoom does not work. Most pages offer a zoom button when you scroll through them. I discovered that some mobile pages cannot be resized. Changing the browser setting from mobile to desktop usually fixes that.

B&N has its own app store which is smaller than Amazon's and a tiny fraction of the Google Market and there are very few free apps. The bright side is that all of the apps there are guaranteed to work with the Color. B&N has set the Color so that it will not install untrusted apps (ones that they did not sell you).

B&N does not have a GMail app or a Facebook app. They do have a free app that will work with Facebook and Twitter and the web view for both of these works fine. You can also set up the native email to check GMail although the native email app is pretty poor.

The Color has two annoyances and a major advantage. One annoyance is the home screen. It is always portrait which is fine if you are reading a book but at right angles for most web browsing. The other annoyance is that lack of a hardware "back" button. There is a soft "back" button in some apps but it changes places and when it is missing then it means you have to go back to the home screen. This is worst when looking at email attachments. You can't go back to the email. You have to reenter the email app and reselect the email you want to read.

The big advantage is that it supports dual boot. This means that you can have a standard Android image on a MicroSD card that supports places like the Google Market and Hulu. You can even load the Kindle app.

I have been using a 10" tablet for the last year but I really like the convenience of a 7" tablet. I had been seriously considering the Nook tablet but for $100 less (with coupon), the Nook Color is really attractive. I don't think that the extra memory and processor speed is worth the extra money.

No comments: