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Summary:

Barnes & Noble released software for its Nook Color e-reader, bringing Android 2.2 and third-party software to the $249 device. At this price, consumers may opt for a multipurpose e-reader over a tablet. Why not, when you can play Angry Birds, YouTube vids and check email?

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Barnes & Noble today released a software update for its Nook Color e-reader, bringing Android 2.2 and third-party software to the $249 device. The software update, version 1.2.0, will be rolling out automatically to Nook Color devices starting this week, but can be manually installed with a download direct from the B&N Nook Color support site. Updated Nook Color e-readers support Adobe AIR and Flash and gain access to the Nook Apps store.

Software for the device is limited, however. Instead of adding access to the full Android Market and several hundred thousand apps, the Nook Color supports the new Nook Apps store which launches with just over 125 titles. There are a few top-tier apps available though: Goodreads, Angry Birds, my6Sense and Gameloft’s Uno are first-day launch titles. Barnes & Noble is also adding a dedicated email app for its tablet as well as Pandora Internet Radio, Crossword Puzzle, Sudoku, Chess, Contacts and a photo Gallery app.

Three other Nook-branded features are included with the software update. Nook Friends is a new beta app that allows users to share reading activities and book recommendations while also using the LendMe feature to share actual books. Nook Kids brings more interactive functions to children’s titles. And Nook Books Enhanced supports audio and video in supported e-book content.

 

With a wider range of smartphone and tablet functions, the Nook Color becomes more attractive at $249. Although the Nook Color uses a slower processor than most other 7-inch tablets, it’s also less expensive by $100 or more. The Wi-Fi version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, for example, costs $349.

By adding an application store to the Nook, even one that’s currently limited by comparison to Google’s app store, consumers may opt for a multipurpose e-reader instead of a traditional tablet. And if B&N continues to woo developers (it currently says more than 5,000 are registered to build Nook Color apps), the demand for a Nook Color is looking colorful, indeed. That could bode well for Amazon which has all the right pieces to complete an Android tablet puzzle of its own.

I’m willing to bet that at this price, and with the new features, more people will be giving the Nook Color a closer look. In a world filled with iPads and scads of Honeycomb tablets on the way, am I right?

  1. If the NC can side-load .apk files, throw the Amazon Store on it, and you have all the tablet you really need without rooting, or root it and have the full Google experience.

    Looks like a winner to me. Now, where did I stash that $275 (including taxes). Oh, and the $50 for that fancy cover my wife will want!

  2. If you’re willing to follow simple instructions, CyanogenMod 7 (“CM7″) is your final solution for an unrestricted Android 2.3 experience. Hell, I think it even unofficially unlocks Bluetooth capabilities on the device, but I haven’t tried it. But as for everything else, you get the Market and all the usual Google goodies. I strongly encourage anyone interested in using the Nook Color as a real tablet to check it out — very, very slick. Not at all hacky like some of the custom firmware for it.

  3. I just hope B&N is making money selling the Nook hardware alone with all this rooting going on.

  4. I am glad to see B&N doing it’s own thing, at least this is 1 major corporation trying to adjust with the times. I have a feeling the upcoming Amazon tablet will be similar to this as well (modest specs, no Google apps, dedicated App Store) except that Amazon has a big enough ecosystem to nearly rival Google & Apple.

    this also allows plenty of room at the $400+ highend tablets for major manufactures like HTC/Moto/Samsung that rely on hardware profit margins & not selling services.

  5. This is a great price for such devices, You get what you pay for in terms hardware specs and features but with a higher quality build (hopefully) than those of chinese android devices. For content consumption I say NC is really hitting the sweet spot of the honey pot :p.

  6. This was unexpected, surprising and very pleasant move, all in one. NC really did a great thing. For price that low to get this much, I would never imagine that they will turn up with something like this. I think this tablet, and I think it is a tablet now, will do just fine for me.

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