Introduction:With the rapid rise in popularity of tablets, the market for digital comics continues to boom. These powerful, interactive, portable computers make reading comic books online a breeze. In the past there has been only one major tablet, the iPad, but now there are a plethora of tablets to choose from with some being very inexpensive. The Nook Color is one of those tablets and at $250 could be just the thing for the right user.
Screen Size: 7 Inches
Battery Life: 8hrs
PC Connection: USB
External Storage: Micro SD
Cost: $250 New
Disclaimer:This review is for a “rooted” Nook Color. Doing this process voids your warranty (although it is easily reset to factory original settings). The only other way to read comics on a normal Nook Color is to purchase them through the Nook’s marketplace. Many Android apps are not available for the Nook. Rooting is not illegal, but can be complex so be warned. It should be also stated that this is only for the Nook Color. Barnes and Noble have a black and white Nook as well for much less money, but that one will not do what you need it to do as a comic reader.
The Story:About a year ago I bought an iPad, and have loved it ever since…everything except the price tag that is. They range in price from $499 to $829 (as of September 2011) so for many, they are way out of reach. It also doesn't help that Apple can be very restrictive of application creators, as well as what they allow the device itself to do.
Since then I have jumped onto the Android bandwagon, getting an Android smartphone and have really enjoyed how well it works. Many other are enjoying it as well because as of July 2011, Android makes up for 41.8% of the smartphone market with Apple only having 27% according to www.comscore.com. The great thing about Android is that the software is open source, allowing anybody to build mobile devices using their operating system software. The Nook Color is one such device.
When I found out that I could have a cheap tablet that had direct access to the Android Marketplace, I was very excited to see what I could do with the device. It would seem that most digital comic book developers are excited as well, as you can get some great comic book apps, just like the iPad.
Review:For being only $250 retail, the price is the first great thing about this device. I actually bought mine off eBay from Barnes and Noble and got a refurbished one for $180, which includes a one year warranty. I know I’ve stated that rooting can void that warranty, but the great thing about it is that you can easily reset the device to its factory settings if there is ever a problem. That is half to one fourth the price of an iPad and you can’t really beat that.
The memory is ok, with 8GB of internal storage. I’d say a Micro SD card is a must have as many apps utilize it for extra storage. If you don’t have one, you will surely run out of space with everything you will want to put on it.
Reading comics on the Nook is a pleasurable experience, but I found it can be hard to read full pages due to the smaller screen. I found I preferred to use the panel by panel displays when it was available. I could still manage full pages, but my getting old eyes had a hard time with some items. That is definitely something to think about.
Battery life is phenomenal, with eight hours of battery life. The iPad is better with ten, but not by much. It is amazing how long it lasts with being so small. Eight hours makes my laptop and Android smartphone green with envy.
The big issue of course is rooting the Nook Color. I consider myself pretty above average when it comes to technology, no expert mind you, but I can figure most things out with my Google-Fu skills. I was able to root it myself with a bootable Micro SD card, but if this is too daunting, you can find many people on Craigslist to do it for you, or you can even buy pre-configured Micro SD cards on eBay for about forty dollars. An added expense if you can’t figure it out yourself, but not unreasonable.
It should be said that rooting your Nook Color is not perfect. I’ve already had to reset it, re-root it, and re-install all my apps on it once when my daughter messed it up during quiet time. It was a hassle more than anything.
Conclusion:If you can get past the difficulties of rooting the Nook Color and are looking for a nice inexpensive tablet, than think about the Nook Color. It is really quite good as a digital comic reader and by unlocking the powerful Android market to get great apps like Comixology, Graphic.ly, and Netflix you get a great tablet at a great price. I would not recommend a Nook Color that is not rooted however as you are severely limited in what you can put on it and have little access to digital comic books as a whole.
For a different point of view, check out the Portable Electronics Guide's Review.