The Barnes Noble Nook Color ($249, 4 stars) is already so sufficient more than an ebook reader . As it has a Web browser, email client, and lots of other games and apps, BN is correct to call it a “reader’s tablet.” But getting more information isn’t all the Nook Color can do. Plunk in an N2A card and the Nook Color becomes a bone-fide Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” device, able of running more than 200,000 apps. The N2A card is incredibly easy to use, comes with a few utilitarian apps installed, and stealing Android is as elementary as rebooting your Nook Color. If you own a Nook Color, or are considering about shopping a tablet, the Nook Color/N2A multiple is a hard one to beat.
There are 3 not similar cards existing from N2A: 8GB ($34.99), 16GB ($49.99), and 32GB ($89.99). I’d suggest going with one of the two aloft storage capacities; since this card takes over your Nook Color’s microSD slot, it’s the usually additional storage you’ll be able to use. Yes, you can setup Android on a Nook Color yourself and not face this limitation, but what you’re profitable for here is the painless, plug-and-play experience: Just insert the card and then spin on your Nook Color.
Each time you beginning your Nook Color you’ll be greeted by a setup shade that lets you confirm either you wish to foot in to the typical OS (which is formed on Android, but looks nothing similar to it), or in to full Android. Just select from the infrequently declared options (“eemc” means the Nook OS, and “sd” means Android), and you’re on your way.
CyanogenMod and Performance
The Android you’ll see running when the Nook Color boots-it takes several mins the initial time, but is sufficient faster after that-is a heavily mutated chronicle of Gingerbread well known as CyanogenMod. It is amid the many renouned law Android builds; it’s existing for a outrageous number of phones and tablets as well.
CyanogenMod adds a garland of interface tweaks to Android 2.3, to make it improved matched for both a seven-inch shade (because Gingerbread is a phone OS, it has a few oddities at such a considerable scale) and is to Nook Color specifically-the Nook Color has usually one hardware button, so more have to be built in to the software. CyanogenMod adds to the bottom of every shade an Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”-like club with Home, Menu, and Back buttons, along with a rapid by-pass to the Android notifications window. All notifications and information live at the bottom of the shade instead of the top, where they routinely reside on Android 2.3.
It’s odd, actually, that N2A didn’t just use Honeycomb rsther than than put so sufficient work in to skinning Gingerbread to look similar to it; we’ve seen Android 3.0 running on the Nook Color before. we asked the N2A developers if they outline to increase Honeycomb to the Nook Color, and their reply was that Honeycomb is slower, buggier, and reduction firm than the CyanogenMod 2.3 version. If those complaint may be solved, the developers said, they’ll let go a chronicle of the card with Honeycomb installed.
That highlights a somewhat connected issue: If you confirm to make a inscription out of the Nook Color, you’re not going to obtain chronicle updates (or support, for that matter). You’ll be at the humour of N2A and other developers for bugfixes and updates.
There are a number of apps already commissioned when you initial foot the Nook Color in to Android; many are acquire additions, others not so much, but unlike on many gadgets you can eliminate any and all of them. The reader’s greatest value becomes right away coherent when you see that your Nook Color now has not usually a Nook app, but moreover a Kindle app, together with a couple of additional bookstore and getting more information apps. There are moreover lots of other apps installed, inclusive Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Words with Friends, Dropbox, Angry Birds, Facebook, ESPN ScoreCenter, and the Dolphin browser. All the Google apps-Gmail, YouTube, and others-are present, as is the Android Market, that gives you access to all of the 200,000-plus Android apps. There’s moreover a by-pass to Hulu, that the mutated Nook Color lets you fool around via the browser as long as you don’t refurbish the Flash player.
Not all is perfect, however. The greatest complaint we encountered was with the Android Market: For a few reason, when we initial attempted to download or refurbish apps, the Nook Color would beginning downloads but never complete or setup them. Fortunately, N2A has easy tutorials on its website for regulating that situation and many other familiar ones (including every one we ran into). In 5 minutes, we was back to downloading all the Android apps we could find. That’s not an forgive for not being able to download Android apps out of the box, but it’s at least a complaint with an easy-to-find solution.
As far as pristine tablet-y performance, the Nook Color seemed, anecdotally, to perform significantly improved running Android than running the Nook OS. Apps launched responsively, pages incited rapidly and simply whilst getting more information in the Nook and Kindle apps, and Web browsing was as manageable as it is on many Android tablets. But our benchmarks told a somewhat not similar story: The Nook Color/N2A multiple was slower than Honeycomb tablets, as it lacks both their faster processors and Honeycomb’s browser speed improvements. The Nook Color’s hardware, graphics, and browser opening were all defective to what we’ve seen on other Android tablets we’ve tested, more in line with phones similar to the HTC EVO Shift 4G (4 stars) than the Samsung Milky Way Tab 10.1 ($499.99, 3.5 stars). The seven-inch Acer Iconia Tab A100 ($329.99, 4 stars) moreover scored sufficient improved in scarcely every test, that isn’t startling given its superior dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor (there’s an 800MHz Texas Instruments Cortex-A8 processor inside the Nook Color). This is no powerhouse, but it worked well during my testing.
If you already own a Nook Color, we can’t suggest the N2A cards rarely enough. They increase a world of apps and functionality to the device, but do not hook on a outrageous cost label or make any permanent changes. You can have your “reader’s” inscription and a tablet’s tablet, all in one place. If you’re seeking to purchase a tablet, it’s a somewhat harder sell. The full package will run you about $300; this would make it one of the cheapest existing tablets, and the Nook Color’s hardware is solid, if a small underpowered compared to other Android tablets. For the most appropriate seven-inch inscription you can find, try the Acer Iconia Tab A100-it’s got Honeycomb, a zippy processor, and sufficient improved performance. But there’s small bad to say about the N2A cards, that give a really cold service and do it in few instances well.
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