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The $119 tablet

I broke down today. I’m going to join the tablet game. Barnes & Noble was selling refurbished Nook Color e-readers for $119, so I bought one, intending to load Cyanogenmod on it and turn it into an Android 2.3 tablet.

The resulting tablet is no Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, but it’s $119.

What I’ll have in the end is a single-core 800 MHz tablet with a good capacitive screen–like a smartphone has, where most of the cheap tablets have touchscreens reminiscent of the old Palm Pilot PDAs–plus 8 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM and the ability to take 32 GB SDHC cards. Take one of the sub-$100 tablets available everywhere right now, put a good screen in it, and that’s basically what I’ll have.

It should be fine for light web browsing. I imagine it would be able to play stored video files too, especially if they’re encoded to something close to what its video player considers native resolution so the CPU doesn’t have to re-scale them. If nothing else, it’ll be a fine MP3 player and PDF viewer. I have several gigabytes of reference material that any tablet with a decent PDF viewer would make very handy.

Plus, it would be nice for my kids to be able to play educational games on it. And I might as well load the Nook and Kindle apps on it so I can use it as an e-reader, right?

We’ll see how much I end up using it and what I end up using it for. I may end up wanting something better, but this will get me started.

The goal of the really good $99 tablet remains elusive, and for good reason–a 7″ capacitive touchscreen alone costs more than $80. So I imagine these refurbs are being sold at break-even cost, or possibly even a small loss. But $119 is pretty close, and I imagine refurbished Nook Colors will drop in price over the course of 2012. And as production of the screens ramps up, costs will drop.

After it arrives, I’ll relate my experience rooting it and loading Cyanogenmod 7 on it.

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3 thoughts on “The $119 tablet”

  1. I’m actually in the process of writing something up. I don’t have a memory card for it yet, so I haven’t hacked it yet. But it’s actually usable out of the box as a web browser and music player and has an app store, so it’s a viable (if limited) tablet even without hacking it.

    I wouldn’t be willing to pay $199 for what it gives me–at that price the Kindle Fire gives you better hardware–but I think a used or refurb unit for $119 or even $149 is a good buy.

    I expect I’ll be writing about the Nook Color a lot in the weeks to come, so don’t worry.

  2. And speaking of memory cards, it’s frightening how many people writing reviews on Best Buy’s web site think $17 is a good price for an 8 GB class 4 card. That’d be an OK price for a 16 GB card…

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