IT'S FINALLY HERE: The Super Cheap iPad-Alternative Your mum Will Love

nook colour android apps

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Despite a few initial glitches, the Nook colour update that went live on Monday, effectively turns the e-reader into a fully-functional Android tablet.Not bad for $250.

Click here to see photos of the Nook colour running Android >

But despite the sweet price, don’t expect the same performance or experience as you would from the more powerful Android tablets like the Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Nook’s relatively weak processor (800 MHz) has some difficulty keeping up with the operating system.

That being said, the Nook colour is still a great option for casual users. The first thing I thought after spending some time with it was “I bet my mum would love this.”

If you only plan on doing simple web browsing, emailing, or gaming, the Nook colour may be a good choice for you.

Here’s what I thought:

  • When you first install the update, don’t expect your typical Android layout. This is still a Nook, and it runs a heavily-modified version of Android 2.2. You probably won’t even notice much has changed at first.
  • The screen isn’t as bright as the iPad or Xoom’s but it does make it easier to use outdoors. Touch responsiveness is satisfactory, but not as good as other tablets I’ve used.
  • The new web browser is a bit slow. Scrolling through web pages can be jerky, but I love that Barnes & Noble included Flash support. Videos look great.
  • The email app is nothing flashy, but it gets the job done. I like that there aren’t any complicated settings. Just log in with your Gmail or other account and the Nook handles the rest.
  • The app selection is surprisingly good, considering you don’t have access to the full Android Market. The average user will find everything he or she needs like RSS readers and casual games.
  • I had some problems with rich games like Angry Birds. Animation stuttered, and Angry Birds completely froze the Nook one time when I tried playing it.
  • The standard, preloaded apps work well. You get a media player, email, and Pandora right out of the box.

Again, this tablet isn’t a powerhouse, and it shows in how it handles apps and web browsing. It’s hardly a substitute for most tablets out there. But at half the price of the cheapest iPad, I think it’s still a good option for casual users.

You can arrange apps any way you want on your home screen. They don't automatically lock into place, so its a bit awkward to line them up.

There's a headphone jack at the top. Great for watching web videos in the browser.

The volume buttons on the side aren't very responsive. Sometimes pressing volume down actually moves the volume up button.

The Nook colour is thinner than the iPad, but still feels heavy to hold.

The email app is simple to use. Just enter your Gmail or other login information and the Nook will sync with your inbox.

Here's what it looks like when you compose an email. Nothing flashy.

There's now an Apps menu on the toolbar where you can see all your installed Android apps.

The Barnes & Noble store now has a section for apps. You can't download just any Android app though -- they have to be approved by Barnes & Noble first. There are some simple games, but a lot of the apps are for productivity or reading news

Here's a look at the popular Pulse Reader on Nook. If you've used the iPad or Honeycomb version before, this should be very familiar to you.

No tablet would be complete without Angry Birds.

You get a full web browser with the Nook's Android update. It's a bit slow though. Scrolling and zooming on web pages is jerky too.

But you do get Flash video! YouTube videos run pretty well.

Now check out what a top-of-the-line Android tablet can do...

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