Android Phones

Nook Color: Great reader, so-so tablet

November 23, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

Android Devices, Reviews, Tablets, Video Reviews

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Anyone who listened to the AndroidGuys podcast last night heard my first impressions of the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. While I have been pleased and somewhat impressed by this Android-based reader with some tablet characteristics, I can only say that for one side of the equation.

Barnes & Noble wasn’t kidding when it declared that the Nook Color is a reading device first and foremost. However, I was still surprised by the comparatively weak performance of the Nook Color as a tablet. Media support is severely limited when it comes to playback formats, and the absence of an easy way to side-load applications means you can’t install advanced media apps like VPlayer or PowerAMP to address that shortcoming (this may change once B&N introduces its own app store). And don’t even think of depending on web-based media because YouTube is as unreliable as it is unimpressive.

The browser also fails to impress for websites that have a large amount of scripts or media to load. Someone doing the most basic and light activity – checking Gmail or browsing Facebook Touch – will find that the Nook Color is a capable device, but you may want to consider going to your laptop for most other activity.

I’ve been accused of being overly-critical on some devices, but I think it’s important to warn people to temper their expectations on the Nook Color. Readers, Twitter followers, and podcast listeners have all expressed excitement about getting an Android tablet for such a low price, but I would not recommend anyone try to use this device as a tablet unless they are content to only browse certain websites, listen to Pandora on Wi-Fi, and don’t have plans to play games or load many apps. If you’re searching for that media-rich tablet for browsing the web and playing Angry Birds, you may want to look elsewhere. Rooting may eventually provide some added benefits, but that’s a big “if” to place your hopes.

This article is part of a series of hands-on and impression video reviews of the Nook Color. Expect to see the complete Nook Color review later this week.