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The Tech-pert: $129 Nook Color is Tablet Deal of the Year

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 11:56AM Thursday December 15, 2011
under Spotlight Deals

Back in July I wrote about the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which was selling for the then-incredible price of $199.

What a difference a few months makes.
Since then, HP discontinued its TouchPad 10-inch tablet and cleared out the remaining inventory at $99. Amazon introduced and starting shipping the 7-inch Kindle Fire for $199, along with new Kindle e-readers priced as low as $79.

And in the past month, tablet prices have been in free-fall, with huge cuts to other 7- and 10-inch models. (I've even seen a few deals on iPads, though usually refurbished models.)

All of that brings us back to the Nook Color, which is now down to $129 shipped at eBay and Overstock.com.

That, my friends, is the tablet deal of the year.

Now, just to clarify, this is not the newer Nook Tablet, which Barnes & Noble unveiled last month and sells for $249. It's last year's Nook Color, which began life as an e-reader but has evolved into so much more.

See, out of the box, the Nook Color runs a modified version of the Android operating system, which now supports a limited selection of apps--just like a real tablet.

But the better option is to pop in a special microSD card from N2Acards or RootMyNookColor. These cards, which start at around $30, transform the Nook into a bona fide Android tablet, able to access Android Market and run just about every Android app.

(If you're somewhat tech-savvy, you can save your money and "root" the Nook to run Android without a card--but there's no going back. With the cards, you just pop them out and you're back to the stock Nook operating system.)

I especially like this approach because it lets you run other bookstores' reader apps (namely Kindle and Kobo). That means you can read e-books you may already have purchased elsewhere, and you're not limited to shopping for new books at Barnes & Noble.

I bought a refurbished Nook Color several months ago (and paid $179, dangit), and I love it to death. Thin and rounded, it feels less like a slab (cough, Kindle Fire, cough) and more like an elegant slate. Plus, there's something about that little hole in the corner I just dig.

Barnes & Noble generously backs refurbished Nooks with a one-year warranty, same as if you bought a new one.

At $129, the Nook Color is a shockingly good deal and my single favorite product of 2011. Grab one before they're gone.

Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, "How to Do Everything: Palm Pre." Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.