Update: Barnes and Noble reps are now saying that it has no plans to offer full access to the Android Market on the Nook color. That doesn’t mean the device won’t be getting a major Android update, but its future as a full-fledged Android tablet is likely farther off. Original post below.
Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color, the $250 update to the original Nook, appeared from the start to be an Android tablet in e-reader clothing. Now it looks like it will finally be able to live up to its tablet potential.
The Nook Color will receive an update to Android 2.2 in January, and with it, the device will get access to the Android home screen and apps through the Android Market, a Barnes and Noble representative told SmartphoneMag.
It sounds like the device won’t have full access to the Android Market — but still, even a few apps are better than none. The Nook Color currently runs Android 2.1 with no support for apps. The coming Market may feature apps from Barnes and Noble’s developer program, which it announced when it first unveiled the device in October. Alternatively, those Nook-specific apps may be offered in a separate store to avoid confusion.
The Android update will also bring the usual performance and battery life improvements, as well as pinch and zoom support to the device’s browser.
With the 2.2 update, the Nook Color will become an even better value than it already is. At $250, it’s more than half the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab (which is available for $400 with a two-year contract, or $599 without contract on Verizon). It’s also just about half the price of Apple’s iPad. The Nook Color certainly isn’t as fast as more expensive tablets, but for the price it’s the best introduction into tablets on the market right now.