I've decided to give up the fight and return my Nook Tablet - I simply don't have the time or inclination to fight with a company that just doesn't get it.
I decided to let other prospective purchasers of the Tablet know what the pitfalls are before they buy so I posted the following review on both Amazon and Best Buy product web pages. They will likely take a couple of days to be visible. I think I've been fair in my comments.
So long folks. Such a pity B&N missed the opportunity to truly shine. And to the apologists - enjoy the eReader.
Phil, signing off.
I bought a Nook Tablet based on the principle that it was much more than an eReader and was backed by an upstanding company in Barnes & Noble.
At the price point the hardware is truly magnificent with a wonderful screen, fast processor, good storage capacity and an SD card. I didn't need the GPS and cameras that are 'missing'. The 7" form factor turned out to be ideal for my purposes.
The selection of eBooks from Barnes & Noble is excellent and even the magazines I bought are more than readable. Netflix video quality, while not High Definition, is certainly High Quality and is simply stunning with the right movie and since I am a Netflix streaming subscriber already, was 'free' to me. So far so good.
Here's the rub. The selection of apps from B&N is truly pitiful. I mean, worse than you can imagine. Now combine this with the fact that the standard email client as installed on the NT is very basic and limited and the standard web browser is little better. There are no replacements in the app store. None. What you see is what you get.
And something else makes it even worse. You can't add your Google accounts in order to sync with Google services such as contacts, calendar, reader etc.
The sad thing is the hardware is MORE THAN capable of running all these services but is being prevented from doing so by the B&N tablet software and their 'walled garden' approach - similar to that adopted by Apple but without their huge app store and connected services to create the illusion that you are not in an ecosystem prison.
There were originally two ways that NT owners could enhance the tablet but B&N are now attempting to close both of these paths with their latest operating system 'upgrade' (version 1.4.1) that is automatically installed on your Nook Tablet when you connect to the internet. They issued this 'bug fix' release on December 23rd. Bah humbug is right.
1. 'Sideloading' of applications was possible on version 1.4.0 and this let you install applications from sources other than B&N's paltry selection. So, for instance, you could install Dolphin Browser for tabbed web browsing and gesture input or Skitmail for a real email experience. Now that's all gone and you get no option to add apps that B&N don't have - which is most of them. My guess is that for most users, sideloading would have resolved the issue of the inadequate B&N app store. Had they been smart, B&N would have delayed implementing the blocking until they could dramatically increase their selection of apps.
2. 'Rooting' the tablet is a way to bypass the B&N controls and open up the tablet to the full Android experience which not only means access to the Google market and Google apps but also to 'superuser' functions to enable enhanced control of the operating system. This is not for novices and requires some technical understanding of the Android operating system so likely only a very small number of advanced users would ever attempt this. B&N have attempted to block this too. Really? What exactly is the point B&N?
So, what we have here is a truly excellent piece of hardware with a fantastic eReader infrastructure capable of doing so much more than it is permitted to do by Barnes & Noble. Their motivation is to force users to buy only from them - which as Apple have proved - is perfectly okay if you make the selection big enough. Problem is, the selection is totally, hopelessly, unbelievably inadequate.
Barnes & Noble will still have a huge hit on it's hands because many people have relatively simple needs. The pity is it could have been a massive home run in their battle to stay alive in the space they compete for with Amazon.
So what to do? With a heavy heart I will likely return my gorgeous Nook Tablet and spend just a little more for a real 7" tablet upon which I will install a Nook app and be very happy. I simply don't have the time, patience or inclination to fight a company that has proven it just doesn't 'get it'.
Know what you are getting into before you buy.