We did a double take when we first spotted our friend's tablet. We knew she had gotten a Nook Color, so there was nothing strange seeing her reading from it. But when she started scrolling through her menu, feeding the fish in her live theme mini Android robots, and launched Angry Birds, we knew this was not your stock model Nook.
Since our friend Kaitlin is a lovely human she was happy to let us in on how her Nook Color was transformed into an Android tablet. Kaitlin's brother Karl is the programming hacker behind the transformation and after a chat with him we were able to get the skinny on how to make the Nook Color to Android tablet happen. This process is called, don't laugh, rooting.
To make all your Android running on Nook Color dreams come true you will need:
- Nook Color
- A microSD card
- MicroSD adapter (we will use SD and microSD interchangeably in the following instructions)
- Several image files (below)
1. Insert the microSD card into your computer and burn the first image to the card, then copy the two zip files onto the disk (we tested this in OS X and Linux but did not have a Windows machine to test on so we cannot verify if this process is the same for Windows users).
2. Eject the SD card and insert it into your Nook Color and reboot. A menu will appear on your device that you navigate with the volume buttons, select items by hitting the "n" on the front of the device and perform a factory reset.
3. Next you will install those files from the SD card: the first will be the zip, then the CM7 image, followed by the the GApps image. At this point if you are feeling " particularly sporty" (his words not ours), you can download and install an overclock kernel.
If you are wondering what makes these directions different from the set provided in the great piece from Ars Technica, the Ars instructions will give you Android market access and Nook root and that's about it, and it's Android 2.1 which means it is rather slow and the browser is not fantastic.
By following the instructions above, you will end up with Android 2.3 (with a fairly sizable hacker team working on that image) and Bluetooth (yes the Nook Color has built in Bluetooth, it is just not hardware enabled by default) which means you can pair your Nook Color with a Bluetooth keyboard!
What are the risks? Few really as you can always dig up an original system image and flash and SD card and use it in the device to rewrite the internal ROM back to its stock condition (as long as you know how to do this you are fine). Remember bricking only occurs when you manage to make a device unbootable, or you fry the processor by over-volting it or something (which you are not doing in this hack).
Since the Nook Color boots off the SD card first, the only way to not get it to boot is to fry the processor. Of course all mods and hacks are at your own risk and rooting does void your Nook Color warranty. It is nice to know that unlike some other devices, it is actually quite difficult to brick a Nook Color.
Still want apps but too timid to try rooting (snicker)? Download the latest firmware update from Barnes & Noble. With the latest firmware update, 1.2, the base system is upgraded to 2.2 and this gives you access to the B&N App Market.
What do you think? Have you ever rooted (it never stops being funny) your Nook Color? Will you give it a try?
Thanks, Kaitlin and Karl for this great project!