Now that it’s Christmas 2012, the 7 inch tablet market has reached a fever pitch. We now have high-end devices (with mid-range prices) like the Samsung Galaxy tab, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and even the Apple iPod mini are the talk of the town. But there’s one little tablet that’s been around for a long time now that just won’t go away. The Nook Color. And despite the Nook Color falling behind in the specifications department, it’s still fully capable and highly hackable — which makes it a tech geeks go-to tablet despite all the newcomers. After all, it is one of the only tablets out there with an micro-SD card slot. And to top it off, there are great deals on the Nook Color — everything from new units going for $99 on Black Friday, to refurbished units going for $79 online. In my opinion, the Nook Color is a perfectly capable tablet that’s going to find it’s way into plenty of Christmas stockings this year. And if you’re looking for something to tinker around with, for under $100, you can’t go wrong.
I’ve had my Nook Color for almost two years now, and rooted it on day one. Since then, I’ve run various versions of Android, setting for months on CyanogenMod 7 (CM7). Using the Nook Color with CM7 was great, but now that there’s a little bit of hype with the budget-cost of the NC, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out CyanogenMod 9 (CM9) and tell new owners if the 800 MHz single-core processor is capable enough to handle Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Simply put, my experience was a bit of a mixed bag. While the Nook Color is much more responsive and snappy than I had expected running CM9, it’s still a bit too buggy for every day use.
For those of you that have just purchased your Nook Color, you’re probably new to rooting it and might not be sure where to start. In my opinion the best place to start is here. The CyanogenMod Wiki for the NC give you all the info and download links you need to get up and running — not only for CM9 but also CM7 which is the OS I still recommend.
As I said, I’ve been running CM7 for months now and have been very happy. The hardware handled Android 2.3 Gingerbread fairly well. It wasn’t blowing any doors off, but it wasn’t terrible to work with either. And honestly, that’s why I was so reluctant to move to Android 4.0 because I just assumed that it would be too laggy to enjoy. But after using it (build cm-9-encore-20120904-0700-unofficial) for just a few minutes, I feel that the NC with CM9 actually responds better to touch commands than with any other OS I’ve tried. Additionally, the new OS is simply a more refined experience compared to old. Similar to Apple’s iOS, things simply are where you’d think they would be and react the way you think they should.
But when you actually try to run apps, you’ll probably be disappointed. Apps are slow to load and many simply don’t work. Although the default web browser is much improved and seems to work great. Indeed, there are plenty of kinks that still need to be worked out. That being said, if you have the NC and are looking to mod it, you’re probably willing to look past the bugs in order to tinker with one of Google’s latest operating systems. And if you fit into that category, I’d recommend you try it out — even if you downgrade back to CM7 after a few days.