Since its release in October of last year, Barnes & Noble's Nook Color has been the go-to device for those who wanted a tablet but only had a modicum of technical savvy and enough money to buy half an iPad. In its stock state, it wasn't much more than a Kindle competitor that couldn't provide the comfort of an e-ink screen, but with some clever rooting and overclocking, you could easily turn your dreary eReader into a full-fledged, 7" tablet running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) at 950mHz. It all sounds very tempting, but it voided your warranty, which meant that bricking your unlocked Nook couldn't be solved with a call to B&N's customer support.
Thankfully, Barnes & Noble have now fully embraced the Nook as a tablet rather than an eReader, putting out just today a major firmware update that brings Android 2.2 (Froyo), Flash, and apps to the device. But there's a catch: you still don't get full access to the Android Market for apps; rather, B&N have a separate repository of applications that mesh seamlessly with the Nook's look and feel. Fret not, Angry Birds is available in all its pig-smashing glory.
So, in the end, this update doesn't quite match the established rooting process in terms of sheer control and access, but it does, for most people, turn the Nook Color into a perfectly capable tablet that'll be at home sitting on your coffee table. I suspect the large difference in price–the next cheapest (although, admittedly, much more powerful) competitor, the Eee Pad Transformer, costs a whole $150 more–could sway many potential customers in favor of the slightly sparsely-featured Nook. Of course, if you don't want to be limited to a third-party app system, the good, old-fashioned hacks are still in place.