Move Over, Apple! My Tablet Cost $200

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

Wall Street Journal, 3/9/11

A lot of people are likely to stand in line to pay $500 or more for Apple’s iPad 2 when it goes on sale Friday.

I didn’t want to spend $500 for a tablet computer. I didn’t even want to spend $400.

So instead I went online and bought a brand-new tablet for a bit less.

The cost? Less than $200 … and about 20 minutes of my time.

No kidding.

It’s hardly a perfect comparison—more on this below—but the tablet is perfect for what I want. I’m not talking about one of those junk tablets from a Chinese website, either.

I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook Color tablet (for $190 plus tax from a temporary online promotion, down from the usual $250). And then I downloaded a very simple, perfectly legal software fix from the Internet that turned it into a fully functioning tablet running on Google’s Android platform. The fix, known as a “rooting,” unlocks Barnes & Noble’s proprietary overlay. The instructions came via Ars Technica, a reputable site devoted to technology, and were pretty easy to follow.

I wasn’t really expecting it to work. I tried it as an experiment. But the results were remarkable.

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