The NOOKcolor e-reader, from Barnes & Noble, is going to get Android 2.2 (Froyo) next month, very nearly turning the $250 e-reader into a usable tablet computer. We say very nearly, because it seems that Google's Android Marketplace won't be available on the NOOKcolor, which will instead get its own application store run by …
as a mobile developer
I wont be submitting a different build to yet another marketplace.
It can't have marketplace
Google have really screwed up with their preparedness for tablet android devices. The only way to get the marketplace app is to pass the CDD and the only way to be compliant with the CDD is to basically be a giant smart phone. This automatically means devices like personal media players, ereaders, in fact most tablets are non-compliant. The only tablets which meet the CDD do so by implementing completely superfluous functionality such as GPS, compass, camera etc.
I hope Google come out with honeycomb pronto and change their CDD to reflect the new reality. If they don't then android cohesion is going to fall apart in front of everyone's eyes.
Look out, iPad
You're being undercut by %50!
Finally a realistic price for a tablet
Disclaimer: I'm a cheap arse
that so many people still think that something with a TFT display is a ereader.. Even El-Reg hacks it seems.
Just because it can read a file format does not make it an ereader. it need EINK for that.
what good is it?
When i hear reviews like "performance isn't that good, but...." I need to stop and really think about such a device.
So, i go to the B&K specs page for the Nook Color. Hmm, no specs for the CPU or RAM are listed at all on the SPECS page... I had to find it elsewhere. It's an A8 Arm from TI, clocked at 800MHz, the same CPU and GPU and RAM as the Droid 2 is equipped. It is an IPS panel, covering 1024x600, however the GPU can only actually handle 854x480 and the image is hardware scaled to the larger screen (big time bummer).
Its also only a 14.8wH battery, which they claim gets "8 hours, with wifi off" and they specify the reading was taken on "selected systems" and "user life expectancy may vary based on device settings" and they explicitly leave out mention of the backlight settings and back-grounded apps. ...and that was with pre-froyo, a known battery hog... This is half the iPad's battery and on a CPU that uses equal power and a screen that can't be far off...
I expect to hear the thing has trouble lasting for 4-5 hours with WiFi on and the screen brightness set to even reasonable levels once Froyo is on it. Worse if people background a few apps.
It's got a nice IPS screen, and a halfway decent CPU (and underpowered GPU). Given the extra pixels, i suspect it won't perform as well as the Droid 2 running the same apps. It should be fine for people using it for text media and simple games, but if they think its going to handle the bulk of Android apps, let alone full screen flash or H.264 video, fact is, ic can't, and people are going to be dissapointed.
$250, yea, I might actually buy one once Froyo is officially supported (I'd be happier if it was 10" though). It's no iPad competitor, and I'd not recommend it to anyone looking for a media focused device, but it's sure going to steal thunder from the Galaxy Tab. It'll get hammered back down a bit when the ipad 2 is released in March/April, and the existing iPad drops to $399 (or less).
For UK users looking for a "Cheap" Android tablet, you could do worse than get one of the Archos ones. They've got the Market hack readily available and easy to execute, 1ghz processors, HDMI out, USB Host and Froyo (more or less) out of the box. Archos seem to be supporting them pretty well too.
In case you were wondering, the key advantage they hold over the Advent Vega is that they made more than 5 of the bloody things.
You could do a lot better too
The Archos tablets are cheap, nasty and (literally) creaky.
Beware the regional book agreement & 3G
I would have bought one of the 3G Barnes and Noble Nooks - but there were/are two problems.
The main problem with a B&N ereader account, is that their ebooks are subject to the regional books agreement, that prevents sales to UK users.
Reasonably priced ebook $9.99 best sellers are only available to USA based customers - Special offers at even lower prices are unavailable to UK customers .
I use the program from ereader.com (B&N) on an Android phone with an account linked to B&N, and cannot even get the free ebooks. The Kindle program from Amazon works without any problems, does exactly what it says on the tin, but I have to pay Amazon-UK prices.
The 3G model(s) are enabled for the AT&T USA 3G service - not of use in the UK.
Hacking customised Froyo on a Nook so that Google marketplace is enabled should not prove too much of a problem - because of the Android system, may be free of charges to use, but can only used under GNU GPL licence conditions:-
3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code........."
"The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable"
From a pragmatic point of view as well, it seems that all Android WiFi/WLAN modules in tablets use GPL based software that must anyway, and also, be published and made available as source code independent of the Android GPL.
It would be interesting to change a Nook into a fully capable Froyo tablet, but it's probably better to wait a few months for 1GHz models that sell with Froyo installed, along with Flash.
Will there be a software upgrade for existing devices, or does it only apply to ones sold after the official releas?
Nook nearly useless in UK if B&N account set up with a UK based Debit Card
I bought a Nook from B&N in Seattle last February and was told that I could set up an account with my Citibank US$ debit card, which I showed to the sales person and used to pay for the device, without problems. WRONG. The account has to be set up with an account linked to a US (or Canadian) based bank, not a UK branch of a US bank. So I have used the Nook mainly for stuff downloaded from Google Books.
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