I 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.
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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