Been jonesing for that Nook Color e-reader? Alas, except for a small batch of refurbs that surfaced a couple weeks ago for $199, Barnes & Noble hasn't budged on that $249 list price.
Here's another option: for less than the price of most grayscale readers, B&H Photo has the Aluratek Libre Color eBook Reader for $109.95 shipped. (If it sells out, try the same deal from Dell--but be prepared to pay a bit extra for sales tax.)
Let me be clear: the Libre Color is no Nook Color. It doesn't run Android, can't be rooted, and lacks wireless capabilities. It's thicker than the Nook and has a lower screen resolution.
On the other hand, it's a fraction of the price and provides most of the same functions. In addition to displaying e-books in a variety of formats (more on that in a minute), it lets you listen to music and watch videos (in a lot more formats than the Nook can).
The Libre Color comes with 100 preloaded public-domain works to get you started, but you can also purchase and install titles from Borders. Doing so requires a USB connection and Adobe's Digital Editions software, but it's a pretty painless process overall. (Obviously direct, Wi-Fi-powered access to the Borders bookstore would be preferable.)
In addition to PDF, PRC, Mobi, TXT, and FB2 formats, the Libre supports EPUB--which, I would argue, is the single most important consideration when shopping for an e-reader. That's because most libraries use EPUB for the free books they loan out. I recently read "The Help" (and loved it, by the way--laugh all you want), but instead of paying $12.99, I checked out the EPUB edition from my library.
CNET hasn't reviewed the Libre Color, and the user reviews I've seen elsewhere (like on Amazon) have been mixed. If you own one of these gadgets, by all means let me and your fellow cheapskates know what you think of it.
Me, I think it looks like a lot of gizmo for the money.
Bonus deal: Need a mammoth monitor to go with that DIY PC from yesterday? Or a slightly smaller TV than the 32-incher from Tuesday? Geeks.com has one of the sweetest deals I've seen yet: a refurbished 28-inch Hannspree LCD HDTV for $199.99 (plus around $27 for shipping).
Bonus deal No. 2: These won't last long, but Cowboom has a new (!) HP Mini 110 10-inch Netbook for $189.99 shipped. Specs include a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and Windows 7 starter. Nice!
Bonus deal No. 3: Normally $50, the Life Link Safe is currently on sale for $19.95 shipped. It's a ruggedized USB drive with special software that stores personal and emergency information--a great thing to have on hand in the event of disaster (which, as we've so painfully learned this past week, can strike anytime, anywhere).