Looking for a tablet for video, word and and pdfs. Not an iPad.
April 26, 2011 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a tablet-like media device that plays ripped DVDs, and easily saves and views PDFs and Word docs to take with me travelling. Fitting in a small carry bag would be great as well. Difficulty: Not an iPad.

My wife and I are planning some traveling, and we would like a media player/tablet that allows us to watch movies and read travel books on Word and PDF. Wireless capability and intenet/email accessibility would be a bonus, but since I will be bringing my iPhone, it is not necessary.

However, I am looking for something cheaper than the iPad (or even the refurbished previous generation), as I'd rather not spend the money, and I'm waiting for the next iPad generation before I consider getting one. I'd also rather not get a netbook.

Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
posted by evadery to Technology (26 answers total)
A hacked Nook Color could do all of these things, and can be had for $250. Actually, with the newly-released update, it might even be able to do it all without hackery, but I wouldn't swear to it.
posted by andrewpendleton at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2011

If your criteria is Not an iPad, you have some options - chief among them the Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom.

If, however, you want something cheaper than an iPad, especially significantly cheaper, you've got exactly one option (right now) and it's the Color Nook. I don't know how its battery life will hold up under video playback, but it can do video now, and it's first and foremost a book-reader.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:21 AM on April 26, 2011

You can use a Nook Color to watch *.mp4 files without it being hacked - I do it all the time. You can also view PDFs, and I *think* with the new update you can view Word documents as well. Not sure on that though.
posted by Lucinda at 8:23 AM on April 26, 2011

Yeah, the latest update to Nook gives it the app market, which will let you download free players like VPlayer or Mobo to play various video types. Adobe has a free reader available.

CyanogenMod also has a good 2.3 ROM for the Nook, and if you can follow instructions then rooting and flashing is pretty simple.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:23 AM on April 26, 2011

You can also get a Viewsonic G Tablet for a little more than the Nook. It's faster and has a larger screen, has stereo external speakers and a USB input for standard keyboards and flash drives. The downside to the G Tablet is the viewing angle is very limited, and you'll really need to hack it and flash an aftermarket ROM since the stock ROM is kind of assy.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2011

The new app store for the nook color offers this in its description, but I can't seem to find it in the actual store:

"Quickoffice® Pro takes mobile productivity to the next level for NOOK Color. Enjoy the ability to CREATE, VIEW, and EDIT, Microsoft® Office files including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. Conveniently ACCESS files remotely from your Google® Docs, Dropbox, Box, Huddle™, SugarSync, and MobileMe™ accounts or from your SD card with an enhanced Connected File Manager. Also included is an advanced PDF viewer. "
posted by Lucinda at 8:31 AM on April 26, 2011

Yeah, the latest update to Nook gives it the app market, which will let you download free players like VPlayer or Mobo to play various video types. Adobe has a free reader available.

The update to the Nook gives it Barnes & Noble's app market, not the general app market. VPlayer and Mobo aren't offered, but you don't need them if you have *.mp4s, which you can create with a ripped DVD.
posted by Lucinda at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2011

Ah, it would seem that the Nook appstore is a walled garden of sorts and not the same as the general Google Android Marketplace that is available on "regular" Android devices. If you want that (and the selection and lower prices that it offers over closed markets like the Nook's), then you'd need to flash the ROM. If you flashed the Nook's ROM, you can still use it precisely as intended, you'll just invalidate your warranty (unless you reinstall a stock ROM).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2011

posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 AM on April 26, 2011

The Nook Color like a good option, but as a Canadian, I'm a bit concerned about its compatibility for me in Canada. Anyone have any experience?
posted by evadery at 8:48 AM on April 26, 2011

> I'm a bit concerned about its compatibility for me in Canada

WiFi is WiFi. It will work everywhere.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 AM on April 26, 2011

Archos has a whole line of Android tablets that are significantly cheaper than the iPad. However, if it was me I would pick a netbook, like an Asus EEE PC. Cheaper than an iPad and does so much more - it will meet all of your requirements with ease.
posted by rfs at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011

The Asus Eee Pad Transfomer seems much better than the Nook (faster, more flexible), and is going on sale in Canada today. Good luck finding one, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2011

> WiFi is WiFi. It will work everywhere.

Not true - you need a B+N account and it says you can't get one without being an American. However, I've found a Canadian site that puts my fears to rest a bit, but any firsthand info would be helpful.
posted by evadery at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011

I've seen the 7" Galaxy Tabs on sale at Best Buy in Ottawa for less than $150 CAD
You can buy a Nook off of eBay, for example, but with shipping to Canada and HST at the boarder, it would almost certainly be more than that.

A BB Playbook will also do (most of) what you want---they do MS office stuff pretty well actually---but they're $500+ at the moment.
posted by bonehead at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2011

The Galaxy Tab is nice (I have one and use it for ebooks, email, web, video, etc), but isn't that price with a two year data contract?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 AM on April 26, 2011

On review, that is certainly the case. It's $149 on three year contract to Rogers. Two year contracts are very uncommon in Canada.
posted by bonehead at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2011

If you put CyanogenMod on the device, you won't need a BN account to use it, so location becomes moot.
posted by andrewpendleton at 11:56 AM on April 26, 2011

Yeah, personally I wouldn't hesitate to wipe the Nook's stock ROM and put on CyanogenMod, update or not. You can download the free Nook app from the Android Market (and Kindle, and Google Books, by the way) and have a much much larger selection of apps. I'm not much of a hacker but I can follow directions and understand the basic concepts so rooting/flashing doesn't seem like a big hurdle.

The only real drawback is you void the warranty.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:01 PM on April 26, 2011

Is the video playback on the Nook any good?
posted by evadery at 12:23 PM on April 26, 2011

Have a look.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2011

Wait, sorry. That's a horrible video. This one is better.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2011

Archos ARNOVA 4GB 10-inch Android Tablet for $189

Haven't used it, so no idea about the quality
posted by WizKid at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2011

You don't even need to void your warranty to hack the Nook Color. You can run custom firmware off of an SD card, leaving the stock firmware untouched. As such, you could continue to use the stock firmware for any reading you want to do (as its stock reader is superior to the Market-downloadable one you can use in CM7) and then pop the card in the SD slot when you want to watch movies.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2011

On non-preview:

If you're considering anything other than the Xoom, Transformer, or Tab, just get the Nook. Everything else out there is terrible by comparison. The Nook represents an unprecedented sweet spot on the price/value comparison. The other three are more powerful, and more open without hacking, but anything else is a waste.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2011

from a non hacked POV, the video on a nook color is....okay. I haven't quite figured out the intricacies of adjusting Handbrake (there's no automatic setting for the nook) to get the best picture, so sometimes my videos are either pixellated or huge.
posted by Lucinda at 8:34 AM on April 27, 2011

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