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Get a refurbished Nook Color for $169 shipped

This is not only one of the best e-readers on the market, it's also one of the best Android tablets. At this price, they won't last long.

Too good to be true: a Nook Color e-reader/tablet for $169 shipped.
Too good to be true: a Nook Color e-reader/tablet for $169 shipped.

Interesting. A few weeks ago, Barnes & Noble starting selling refurbished Nook Color e-readers for $199. Not long after, I started seeing them as low as $179.99 from outlets like 1 Sale A Day. (Incidentally, I ordered one from there; it arrived in about three days, and in mint condition.)

Now, has the refurbished Nook Color for $169 shipped. But here's the interesting part: they're selling them on behalf of B&N. Which makes me think something's up.

I have a couple guesses. First, B&N knows a competing color Kindle product is imminent, so they're trying to get as many Nook Colors into users' hands as possible. And that makes sense: everyone who owns a Nook will invariably end up buying e-books from B&N, not Amazon. (Though there is a workaround; see below.)

Second: B&N might be prepping to launch a Nook Color 2, and is therefore trying to clear out as much old inventory as possible. Heck, it might be a combination of the two.

But you know what? Who cares. At $169 out the door, the Nook Color is way too good to pass up. As I mentioned the other day, it's my new favorite gadget--a splendid e-reader that can also pull double duty as an Android tablet. (I continue to be a fan of the Nook2Android card, which is literally a plug-and-play solution--and a reversible one, too.)

Why bother "rooting" the Nook or using the Nook2Android? For coolness, partly, but also because it lets you work around the "lock in" problem: As a Nook Color, the e-reader can display only those books you buy from B&N. But as an Android tablet, it can run Nook, Kobo, Kindle, and other e-book apps. You're not limited to one source.

One last thing: Nook Color battery life is excellent, at least compared with other 7-inch tablets I've tried. (Why, then, do so many other Android-powered devices have such rotten battery life? Still a mystery.)

Oh, one other last thing: refurbished Nooks carry a one-year warranty, so there's really no downside here at all.

Bonus deal: An outfit called Gearsxs has one of my favorite Blu-ray players, the Insignia NS-WBRDVD, for $58.88 shipped. It's refurbished (with only a 30-day return option), but my refurb is working just fine. It features built-in Wi-Fi and support for Netflix, Pandora, and more.