If you’ve been looking at the increasingly crowded cheap 7-inch reader/tablet market, there’s a new option at the all-important $199 price point. Barnes & Noble just lowered the Nook Tablet to a $199.99 price point, if you’re OK with built-in storage falling from 16GB to 8GB. That gives the new dual-core Tablet, introduced in November of 2011, the same price and capacity as the original Nook Color, introduced back in 2010. Or at least it was the same price before this morning: the Nook Color now retails at $169.

So now when looking at color touchscreen Nooks you have three options: the Nook Color, with a single-core TI 800mhz processor, 8GB of storage and 512MB of RAM running B&N’s modified Android 2.2. Add another 30 dollars and you get the Nook Tablet 8GB, with a TI 4430 dual-core processor at 1Ghz, a full gigabyte of RAM and Android 2.3. Add another fifty and you get the Nook Tablet at its original price and capacity, $249 for a 16GB tablet.

Oddly enough, this price change paints the older Nook Color in a better light, at least as far as hardcore Android fans go. The Nook Color is easily moddable thanks to its SD card boot priority, and the development community behind it is massive, since options for cheap tablets with great build quality were small back in 2010.Conversely, Barnes & Noble locked the Nook Tablet down tight, and while basic software modification is possible, it’s a lot harder and more tedious. A locked bootloader and restricted access to user storage doesn’t help. Despite the Tablet’s more powerful hardware, the Nook Color is still the superior custom ROM platform. If you just want to read books and watch movies, go with whichever model you can afford.

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