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Google Play and slashed prices for Nook

By: 5 May 2013 3 Comments

GooglePlayNookThe good folks over at Barnes & Noble are up to a lot these days so far as the Nook HD and HD+ are concerned. Yes, Google Play is now included on those Nooks and prices on the tablets have been slashed for Mother’s Day.

The 7″ HD and 9″ HD+ tablets are capable, to be sure, but there’s been a problem with them — users have been chained to the awful Barnes & Noble apps store. First Arkansas News, last month, posted an easy way for people to “root” their Nooks and put Google Play on them, but how many people are willing to do that when they can get other Android tablets and avoid the hassle? The simple fact is that the Nook’s lack of Play — the default marketplace for Android apps — has been a major problem for Barnes & Noble. Google Play has over 700,000 apps while the Barnes & Noble store has around 10,000 and they generally sell for more than what other Android users pay for the same apps.

The geek numbers (i.e. hardware specs) on the Nook HD and HD+ are pretty good and the prices on the tablets have been very reasonable. The 7″ HD starts at $199 and comes with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, an SD card slot for more storage, a screen resolution of 1440×900 @ 243ppi (points per inch) and a dual core CPU cruising along at 1.3 GHz. The HD+ starts at $269 and that price will get you a tablet with 16 GB of internal storage, the ever-useful SD slot for expanded storage and more generous specs — a dual core CPU running at 1.5 GHz and a screen resolution is 1920×1280 at 257ppi. Both the HD and HD+ come with a heavily customized version of Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

The prices are right and the specs are great, but the limited selection of apps available through Barnes & Noble have only helped the Nook’s similarly priced competitors — the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Asus Google Nexus 7″ tablets. The Nexus is a full Android tablet while the Kindle Fire also locked users into its own apps store, which has a lot more to offer than the Barnes & Noble one, by the way.

All that changed last week when Barnes & Noble released this press release stating that Google Play and a standard suite of Google Apps — Chrome browser, Gmail, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps — are now available for the Nook HD and HD+. You may notice that Google Now — the much-hyped, voice-enabled personal assistant — is not among those services yet.

At any rate, all current Nook HD and HD+ started receiving the new services trough an automatic, over-the-air firmware update on May 3. If you’ve not gotten your update yet, click here to find out how to install it manually.

Barnes & Noble wasn’t done making announcements last week in hopes of enticing buyers. Through Mother’s Day, the Nook HD starts at $149 and the HD+ starts at $179, according to this news release. The top of the line, 32GB HD+ I paid $299 for in December is now available for $209. I’ve enjoyed my HD+ since the day I got it and the device is even more appealing with Google Play and a price tag that represents a heck of a deal.

Now, the new firmware update isn’t perfect. I went ahead and reset my Nook to factory settings so my device is no longer rooted. It was easy enough to set up my Nook under my Barnes & Noble account and restore all of the apps I had downloaded prior to the update from Barnes & Noble and Google Play. However, I had also installed the Amazon apps store and that is a no-no under the new, stock firmware. Keeping the Amazon store wasn’t a big deal for me, but it may be for people who had rooted their tablets, installed the Amazon store and paid for content.

Clearly, Barnes & Noble still has a problem with people installing the apps store from its most obvious competitor and sending money to Amazon. Really, who can blame Barnes & Noble for that? Still, keep that in mind — if you want to undo your root, you’re going to lose your access to the Amazon apps store. Similarly, you’ll lose the ability to install anything that doesn’t come from the Barnes & Noble or Google Play stores. If you find an app wandering around on the Internet that you want, you can’t have it unless you’ve got a rooted Nook.

So, how can you undo your root if you don’t feel you need it because Google Play provides all the apps you need? That’s pretty easy, really — simply follow these three steps:

* Make sure the unit is turned off

* Hold the Home button (that lower case “n”) and power button then release them when you see the word “nook” appear on the middle of the screen

* Factory reset menu will appear

Make sure you’ve got your login credentials for Barnes & Noble and Google Play before you do a factory reset or you’ll have trouble getting back the apps you’ve installed through those two companies. Also, be aware that you’ll have to provide your passwords again to apps such as Facebook and Twitter after a factory reset.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

3 Comments »

  • Liza @ Views From the 'Ville said:

    I don’t know how I missed this news, but I’m so glad you shared it! We won a Nook Color a couple of years ago and while I loved it for the ereader aspect, I always wished the app section would expand in a way similar to other devices. Because of that, it’s seen far too little use. Now that I know I can access Google Play, though, I’m going to go dust it off!

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Well, I don’t think the update brings Google Play to the Nook Color. However, those are easy to root and turn into full-fledged Android tablets. Poke around on Google and you’ll find plenty of methods used to root the device.

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