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It is certainly no iPad 2 or XOOM, but for acertain segment of the population, the Nook Color might be all the tablet they need.  Apple’s (AAPL) iPad clocks in at $499 (old models can be had for $100 less) and the XOOM currently clocks in at $800, with a lower priced Wifi version looming.  Arends writes that a simple hack enabled full Google (GOOG) Android capability by stripping away Barnes and Noble’s (BKS) overlay.

…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.

Before we get all high and mighty on what constitutes the perfect tablet experience, it is probably important to remember that not everyone has 500-$829  in their pocket for a new Galaxy Tab, Xoom or iPad purchase and a $200 option might be just fine for what many are after.  For people who want to browse the web, go onto Facebook, watch YouTube videos, Email, use maps and other mediocre tablet type-things, this might be the sweet spot.

Arends even noted some advantages over the bigger tablets.  “It actually slips into my overcoat pocket.”

I expect many other name brand tablets that don’t shoot for the high end to hit the market this year.  But at the moment, this and some resistive (yuk) screen tablets from Archos are about all you’ll find in the $200 range.

The big question: If a bookstore like Barnes and Noble can build it and bring it to market for $200, why can’t HTC, LG, Samsung or Motorola (MMI), or any of the other big device manufacturers?

Arends concludes with another pretty interesting question:

Why doesn’t Barnes and Noble get out of the way and ship this open?

The first is that Barnes & Noble needs to get the lead out and let people run these applications on the Nook Color without having to jail-break it. Obviously they want to block Amazon’s Kindle app, because they want customers to buy books from BarnesandNoble.com. But why block everything else? Why should I have to invalidate the warranty in order to make their product more attractive?

They’d sell a lot more of these babies if customers could run email and Facebook and so on out of the box. (The minute I catch myself playing games on this thing, it goes on eBay. But most people want to.) And once they get these Nook Colors into people’s hands as an Android tablet, they would work pretty well as a Trojan horse to sell Barnes & Noble books and magazines as well. In other words, it would help the company’s business model, not hinder it.