The Barnes & Noble NOOK Touch is turning out to be a pretty versatile machine for a product that’s pitched as a $139 eBook reader. The handheld device runs Google Android 2.1 and we’ve already seen that if you root the NOOK you can install third party apps such as Angry Birds. But it looks like you don’t even need to root the eReader to surf the web on the new NOOK. It already has a built-in web browser. It’s just hidden from view.
Here’s how you find it. Just hit the search button and type in a URL. The NOOK will open a web browser. Once it’s open you can enter another URL, click on links, or do just about anything else you need to do to navigate the web.
The NOOK Touch has a relatively fast screen refresh rate for a device with an E Ink display. But it’s still an eBook reader first and foremost. That means you’re going to be surfing the web in black and white, and you can forget about watching full motion video. But it’s nice to know that you can check your email or read the newspaper on the device without hacking it — although at least one user is reporting that while she can check her Gmail messages she can’t use the browser to reply.
And if you do feel like rooting the tablet you can also probably install third party apps for reading eBooks from Amazon and other stores that don’t use the same DRM scheme as Barnes & Noble.