NOOK Tablet for Ham Radio (and other uses)

What is it?

A while back there was an email thread on QRP-L that was about E-Readers for Radio use. I had been giving that some thought since I am not a smart phone guy and my Dell Axim handheld was the equivalent of a boat anchor. So I read what everybody said and did lots of independent research. My budget was around $250 and I was not interested in an Ipad. I looked into the various Android Tabs, Kindle Fire, and the NOOK Tablet. My basic requirements are listed below.

  • Portable but not more than handheld size
  • WiFi capable
  • Extra storage available
  • Ability to side load data from my PC
  • Basic Apps available
  • Ham apps nice but not necessary
  • Good battery life
  • Ability to read e-books in multiple formats

I opted for the NOOK Tablet for meeting all of the above requirements and because the YL already had a NOOK Simple Touch. She liked the book selection available and we had the ability to share certain items between our NOOK’s. She had been storing recipes in PDF format from Cute PDF and it handled the nicely. Price wise I was able to obtain my 8GB NOOK Tablet for around $150 with discounts. That left me $100 for more radio stuff!

I have had the NT since mid April and have been impressed so far. It is light enough that i can carry it in my hand or in my lunch bag without too much trouble. The screen is bright and clear with nice color. The dual processors make it pretty fast. I am not one to watch a lot of video so the slower speed due to the 8GB RAM is not on issue for me. Initially I found no issues with the NT. The only downside so far is that you can only get apps from NOOK. It will not run all Android apps. This has something to do with the user interface that is used. It has not been a real issue as I am not an app snob, but it is worth mentioning.

NOOK and cover.

Above is a Picture of the NT in a cover I made for it. I used an idea from Intstructables for this. I cut the inside of a book out. (Nice title for a ham) Glued felt inside of the cover. Installed an elastic band to keep it closed like a Moleskine Notebook. Attached the “fingers” side of Velcro to the back of the NT and then stuck it directly to the felt. Works like a charm. Not only protects the NT but makes it a little less likely to be stolen. Who would want to steal a book on solid state troubleshooting? You might wonder if the Velcro is strong enough to hold the NT. At Hamvention I was showing it to a friend. She was trying to take it out of the cover and actually pulled the NT off of it’s back cover! She was trying to take it out by pulling up on the edge of the NT. So now I know how to open it up. Maybe some mods are in the offing?

Speaking of Hamvention, while there I noticed another drawback. The color display is a little hard to read in the bright sunshine. I had my shopping list on a spreadsheet and I had to turn up the brightness all the way to see it well in the sun. It is usable but I am sure the battery life would be diminished if I used it long term that way. I picked up some E-books from Ed Brensiser WA3WSJ on Pedestrian mobile operation. What you see in the picture below is the front page of one of his books, “Amateur Radio and the Great Outdoors.”

                                                                                                                        

Ed’s Book
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2 Responses to “NOOK Tablet for Ham Radio (and other uses)”

  1. Nigel Gunn Says:

    My Nook Color runs plain Android, booted from a microSD card. Don’t know whether the Tablet does also. The biggest problem is the lack of an audio input. OK, GPS and acamera would have been nice.

    • W8VZM Ron Says:

      Android is resident in the NT as I haven’t had a uSD card until this weekend. It has a mic but no plug. As for a camera, well I always have my dumb phone. There is always my 12meg Nikon around.

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