I got a unexpected present on my birthday on Wednesday. The Nook Tablet that I had preordered at Barnes & Noble came in 2 days early and they released it to me. So, rather than having to wait until Friday for my new toy, I got my hands on it on Wednesday. On first impression, it was obviously faster than my wife’s Nook Color and a bit thinner and lighter. Other than that, if it weren’t for the slight difference in shell color, it would be hard to tell the difference. Sure, it has a few newer software features such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, but rumor is that B&N will release a software update for the Nook Color soon and I’m betting most of those new features will be added to the NC as well. And, to boot (and I mean literally), the new Nook Tablet is apparently locked down so you can’t boot from SD cards like the the Nook Color can which would allow a full replacement rooted Android OS. So, I was actually a bit disappointed and underwhelmed and really thinking about returning the device. After all, I did pay $50 more than the NC is now selling for.
HOWEVER, what I learned on Thursday made me happy enough with my new toy. The Nook Tablet can load almost all Android apps from the Amazon Appstore and 3rd-party apps without rooting!
I’ve successfully loaded GO Launcher and a boat load of other stuff including Dr.Web Anti-virus Light, IMDB, Angry Birds Seasons, Enhanced Mail, Showtime and Smithsonian to name a few. However, it didn’t go without a hitch — there are a number of apps on the store that say they aren’t compatible or just won’t load when attempting to install. I also had one app load but crash so I uninstalled. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to set up GO Launcher as the default home screen. Pressing the “N” (Nook) home button still takes me back to the Nook default home screen. Also there doesn’t appear to be a way to get the side-loaded application icons on the Nook default home screen. Still, these issues are easily overlooked if you’re willing to be a little flexible in how you launch your side-loaded apps and which apps you actually choose.
So my take? If you’re a geek like me and don’t mind a bit of harmless hacking, the Nook Tablet is a solid choice. If you’re more like my wife and primarily use it for reading, a little web browsing and a game or two, save the $50 and buy the Nook Color.