The announcement of Amazon’s plans to sell the Kindle Fire at only $199 created hopes of an inexpensive yet useful Android tablet becoming available. The hopes did come true, but not from Amazon. While the Fire has many problems, which Amazon is promising to fix, the real bargain in Android tablets came from Barnes& Noble. The Nook comes with both more internal memory than the Fire plus allows use of internal memory cards to expand this further.It’s benefits are well worth the price which is $50 higher.
Both the Fire and Nook are being sold at loses in the hopes of promoting additional sales. While I greatly prefer the Nook, I actually spend many times more money as a member of Amazon Prime than I do at Barnes & Noble. I have been using a black and white Nook as my main eb0ok reader for the last several months because, wanting to avoid being limited to any one company’s device, I found that it is easy to side load ebooks from any source onto the Nook (using Calibre to convert to epub format if necessary). It didn’t take long to find that downloading an Android program with the browser provided access to a hidden menu option to allow side loading of programs from outside sources to the Nook. I quickly added the Amazon Market, as well as the Amazon programs to play the free Prime videos and all the music in Amazon’s cloud where I have unlimited storage. (The increase in storage for the year came with the purchase of a single album at the cost of $1.)
This already provided an Android device capable of handling my material from Amazon and other sources far better than the Kindle Fire was capable of. I also added many other programs, including ones from the Android Market and ones copies from my Droid. I added a custom launcher, and found a program to ensure that my launcher loads instead of the stock Barnes & Noble one. The built-in browser is ok, but it is an even more powerful (and fast) browser after adding Dolphin.
This was all done quickly without rooting the Nook Tablet. It is possible to have a useful Android tablet with rooting, but rooting provides far more. Rooting was necessary to add all of Google’s material, including their Market, and to add custom keyboards, making this a full Android tablet. Amazon did set their video player so that it will not stream free Prime movies on a rooted device. I’m not sure why as someone’s goal was to try to capture the videos I would think this would be far easier to accomplish when playing on a pc as opposed to a small tablet. Regardless, there are two ways around this. The videos will play in the browser regardless of whether the tablet is rooted, and the program OTA RootKeeper, which is available on the Market will temporarily unroot an Android device. Netflix and Hulu Plus work well, regardless of whether it is rooted. HBO GO isn’t working, but I believe that is a common problem with all Honeycomb devices. I’ve read claims that getting this to work is a high priority at Barnes & Nobel
It takes a little work to download and install these programs, many of which can be found through the xda developers forum, but it is well worth the effort if you desire a powerful Android tablet for only $250.