Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7″ Tablet BNRV200 Review

Nook ColorI bought a refurbished Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7″ (developer nickname “encore”) tablet on sale for $119 (originally retailed at $249, now $199.)

The unit that arrived was a model BNRV200 with Software version 1.2.0 installed.

In short, the Nook Color is a remarkably capable and polished 7″ tablet.

I use tablets mainly for final software testing of websites, and it will be handy to have a 7″ Android for that.

The Nook team at B&N should all get a bonus for their great work and attention to detail.

Getting Started

After recharging the battery and agreeing to a 100 page Terms and Conditions form (!), you must register online via WiFi with a free B&N account to “activate” it. (No credit card is required until you want to buy a book or app. No PC is needed.)

Hardware

  • 7″ “VividView” glossy color display is 16 million colors, 1024×600 and bright. Great screen.
  • built-in speaker is adequate for home use, but not loud enough if there’s ambient noise, so you will need earphones for use in public
  • has microSD slot that supports up to 32 GB storage
  • has custom miniUSB port (2-level contacts) and custom cable needed for charging from wall at 1.9 amps. (Will only charge slowly when connected to a PC. My MacBook Pro sometimes displays a warning dialog that says there’s overcurrent and disables that USB port.)
  • RAM is 512 MB, and the 8 GB total internal flash memory is partitioned into 2 GB system, 5 GB content and 1 GB sideloading (end-user)
  • WiFi b/g/n works with any access point that you can login to, plus B&N access points that provide free extra services like book previewing. Some forum posts report that older access points may not be compatible.)
  • TI OMAP 3621 CPU is a single-core ARM Cortex 800 MHz
  • long battery life using internal Li-ion Polymer battery (over 8 hours)
  • solid-feeling, but kind of heavy at 15.1 oz.
  • useful corner cutout in case for locking to a desk or anchoring a strap on the unit.

Software

  • Android-based (originally Android 2.1, but has been updated) with customized UI
  • complete all-around eReader and Internet-capable tablet.
  • some games are included, including chess, sudoku and crossword puzzles, along with Pandora music and email apps. (Angry Birds is a $2.99 downloadable purchase.) Notably missing are free solitaire and minesweeper games, and there’s no free calculator app.
  • the included software is fine. If B&N drops support in the future, there is third-party Android software for this device.
  • file formats supported for reading include: ePub, BBeB, PDF, XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, TXT, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, AAC, MP4. Quickoffice® Pro app can be used to edit many Microsoft formats.
  • free in-store WiFi access, free 1-hour eReading per day, free use of Angry Birds Golden Eagle feature to clear a level.

Usage Notes

  • it’s a good idea to examine the settings page and customize them. I disabled location reporting and forms memory.
  • international users (billing address outside the USA) can’t use the store.
  • there’s a bug in Software Version 1.4.1 when entering your credit card information: the form subtracts 1 from your month, so choose the next higher month, or your card will be declined with a “processing error” dialog
  • battery life can be extended by setting WiFi to “Off” (airplane mode) when using it as an eReader, or putting it into sleep mode.
  • the power button is multifunction: 2 seconds is on or sleep, 5 seconds is power off, 20 seconds is software reset.
  • I use a netbook case to store it. The least expensive official accessories are the Aalto Cover ($14.95) and the Silicone Frame ($19.95)
  • Software version 1.4.1 does not have third-party support at this time.
  • there are software bugs that result in games locking up the unit after about 30 minutes and require a reset. All 3 Angry Birds games, plus most other games like HangMan, trigger these bugs. WordTwist does not.

B&N “Guru” Notes

I talked to a store employee and he had this advice:

  • the straps they sell are “for decorative purposes only”, so don’t rely on them to be strong enough for carrying your Nook Color
  • if you don’t want to use your existing credit cards for purchases from the app store, you can buy a prepaid VISA or MasterCard debit card and use that alone, or in combination with a gift card. I checked on prepaid cards at Safeway and found that there are steep fees and require your name, address and SSN to purchase. Some credit cards also allow a temporary number to be generated, sometimes known by the brand names SafeShop or NetSafe. Due to a forms bug, you need to increase the month by one.

Nook Color Tablet (BNTV250) – Next Generation

Similar screen as older Nook Color, but double the RAM (1 GB) and flash (16 GB), and still only 1 GB partition for end-users. Dual core 1 Ghz CPU. Netflix app and better video capability. 50% more battery life. Third-party software support unknown due to lockdown, prolly requested by Netflix’s content providers.

Official Nook Color FAQ
androidtablets.net: Noook Forums
Barnes & Noble is the first Angry Birds Magic Place for your Nook Color
wikipedia: Nook, Nook Color, Nook Tablet, microSD
EReader Notes: Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet
flightcrewlife.com: Using a Nook Color as an Android Tablet
That Triangle-Shaped Tablet From “The Office” – One Guy Wants to Build It
wsj: Barnes & Noble Offers Nook Discounts
Kindle Fire’s flames have been doused
New $199 Nook Tablet to compete with Fire
Microsoft plugging $300 million into Nook
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Unit Is Worth More Than Its Parent Company

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2 Responses to Barnes & Noble Nook Color 7″ Tablet BNRV200 Review

  1. Cliff Odell says:

    James~ Very useful information. Tks
    We are trying to determine what is different from the Model BNRV200 vs BNRV200A.
    Extensive Googling only hints that it might be the “Auto Light Sensing” is nonexistant on one or the other.
    Any insight would really be appreciated.

  2. T Wampler says:

    I’ve had the nook about one month and just started using it.
    Today, it hung up in loading a chapter
    I’m unable to stop the unloading and go any further.

    Is there any way to stop this process????

    Thanks…. Terry W

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