By now, you've probably heard about all the Android mad scientists hacking their Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor's into full-fledged Android tablets. If you haven't donned the Einstein wig yourself and are curious whether this hack-job is for you, read on ...

People often ask why they should go the Nook modding route when there are devices out there that are--you know--actually meant to be tablets?

As the current Android Central Nook Color Adviser, my official answer is:

"Buy the Nook! Buy the Nook!! Then come to Android Central for all your NOOKcolor modding questions!!! Be sure to tell your friends, too!!!!"

... however, as a human being who happens to immensely enjoy his Nook Color tablet, my answer is that it's really going to depend on two things:

1. What are you looking for in a tablet?

2. What are you wanting to pay for a tablet?

Because, obviously, there are other tablets that offer things a modded NOOKcolor can't.

If you want to be on the bleeding edge of hardware specs and operating systems, then by all means, wait for the Motorola Xoom.  If you really like the 7-inch form factor, and are willing to pay $500-$600 to have 3G, cameras, GPS, and no need to rely on the development community, then you might really love a Samsung Galaxy Tab.  If your eyesight is just a little too good, and you'd really like to strain it from poor viewing angles, then may I suggest the Viewsonic G-Tab or the Archos 101 (yes, those were very cheap, very unfair potshots at two respectable and moderately-priced tablets that may be worth looking into . . . let the tomato-throwing commence).

For me, however, the NOOKcolor delivers the features I want most in a tablet:

  • web-surfing
  • email
  • games
  • apps, apps, and more apps
  • texting w/Google Voice
  • music/video
  • 1024 x 600 resolution on that small enough to be mobile, big enough to be a tablet 7-inch screen (same as the Galaxy Tab)
  • the best Kindle yet  :p

  • the promise to have more software upgrades and more features unlocked (bluetooth anyone?) as development continues

Many of us can do without cameras, GPS, and 3G on a tablet, as these are already on most Android phones. Would I take them? Of course. Would I pay twice as much to have them?  HAHAHAHAHA---no.

What this is all leading up to is the price. It seems that Apple set a precedent when they priced the cheapest version of their iPad at $500, as other tablet-makers have followed similar suit. The prices for the upcoming tablets from CES have yet to be announced, but it's probably a safe bet that they won't be far from that.

But since good ol' Barnes & Noble wasn't selling the NOOKcolor as a tablet, they didn't get the memo that it has to cost around $500-$600. They wanted to float their product somewhere between the iPad and the Kindle. Hence, you can buy the NC for a very reasonable $250.

To those of you who have been holding out to get a tablet "until the prices go down,” I'm here to tell you that B&N has (accidentally) done just that, as they've given us the first quality sub-$300 tablet. It takes some modding, and it takes following someone else's instructions carefully, but if that's something you're willing to do, it may be time to create your own $250 Android tablet.

So why not take a gander at our newly-expanded Nook Color forums, and check out the guides, how-to's and tips. No matter what tablet you go with, Android Central has the scoop.

. . . and we'll still be here a year from now, when all of us Android mad scientists are playing Angry Birds 3D on our rooted Color Kindles: