We wanted to get our dad a tablet. His needs were pretty common: ebooks, email and web browsing. Anything else would be a plus so I stopped by Barnes and Noble and picked up the NookColor. I decided to go with the NookColor after the usual search and hands on testing. The iPad was too expensive as were most of the other conventional tablets. The NookColor is inexpensive and fast enough for the target audience.
So, once we got one I had a chance to work with it at length and discover those issues you don't normally encounter from playing with one in the store. I will say, the NookColor is what I expected. It runs Android but it is crippled so rooting it is what I would do if the unit was mine. As is, we might do that after the warranty runs out. I won't be local so if it breaks it goes back to the store.
That said, the NookColor really needs to be rooted. There are just too many things missing that are addressed by apps that are not available from Barnes and Noble's app store. For example, the email program works well but options like setting the minimum font size or zooming a message are not available.
There are really dumb things about the user interface that crop up. For example, you can download and examine an email attachment that is a Word file but you cannot delete that file once it is downloaded. File management is nonexistent, and, of course, there is an app for that. Yes, any of the Android file managers would work on the NookColor if you could install them.
One I really miss is the Dolphin HD web browser. The default NookColor browser is not bad but it is pretty minimal. Pinch zoom is about it. Oh, and one more thing for the NookColor in general, there needs to be a way to reset an app. We hit a couple sites that do a number on the standard browser and the only solution is a hard power cycle. That really sucks.
As expected, buying books from Barnes and Noble is easy. They want to take your money but, like Amazon and most vendors, the books are copy protected. There is a way to lend books but for my money, which they won't get, copy protection needs to go away. For me, publishers like O'Rielly and Baen have it right. No copy protection and they get my money.
I did set my dad up with Calibre. If you have a tablet or e-reader and download free ebooks then Calibre is a must have. For that matter, any non-DRMed books are better managed using this tool than anything that comes with a tablet or e-reader. I have thousands of books managed with Calibre. My dad has a dozen, so far.
So, bottom line on the NookColor is definitely positive. It doesn't have a digital camera but buy a higher end tablet if you need one. Battery life is fair and the screen and touch interface is very responsive. But, if you are listening Barnes and Noble, open up Android. No one wants to root their box if they don't have to.