If you can look past the inexplicable notch on the bottom, this may be just what you’re looking for in a tablet. I haven’t been too kind to Nook in the past, but I’ll admit that I’m intrigued by Barnes & Noble’s new offering.  B&N decided to abandon the e-ink technology that defines the e-readers with their new Nook Color, and has come from out of the blue to compete in the tablet market.

Compared to the iPad, it’s underpowered, the screen is smaller, and it doesn’t have near the breadth and depth of apps.  It is also cursed with an incredibly ugly notch on the corner that makes it look like a giant keychain, That said, it can surf the web and read PDF’s and Office files, and this is really all a tablet needs to do to be useful in an education setting.

So far as I can tell, it doesn’t support the NookStudy program.  But then again neither does the black and white Nook. It doesn’t make any sense, but they hardly have any textbooks in their store anyway, so whatever.

I read plenty of PDF’s on my iPad for class, and it’s a useful device for learning. But the truth is I probably wouldn’t carry it with me anywhere if it wasn’t also fun to use.  With my iPad, I can choose from a ton of apps to browse Google Reader, I can play games, I can watch movies.  The Nook color will have some games, sure, but not nearly as many as the iOS app store.  You can use the Nook to play videos on the built-in storage, but I don’t see Hulu or Netflix apps coming to this thing for quite some time.  If you’re going to be buying the Nook Color as a student, you should think long and hard about whether you’re going use it enough to justify the purchase.

Obviously the Nook Color isn’t going to do everything you might want it to.  However, you can’t deny that it’s priced to sell.  At $249, only half the price of the cheapest iPad, the Nook Color should prove to be a tempting device for college students.  It won’t be the all-around media hub and entertainment machine you’d get with Apple’s offering, but if you’re committed to incorporating a tablet into your studies without dropping too much cash, this may be just what you’re looking for.