As David Chernicoff over at Between the Lines reminds us, the Barnes & Noble Nook Color is an Android device at its core (it runs Froyo 2.2), so it is a shame that the B&N interface would hide the "major capabilities of an Android 2.2 tablet."
To take full advantage of the most tablet-like e-reader out there, you can either "root" your Nook Color, or replace the Nook OS with Gingerbread as Chernicoff advocates because "anyone [who is] comfortable with installing an operating system on a PC can accomplish." But a quick scan at the instructions and the thought of purposefully voiding a warranty is enough to make most people stick with their B&N neutered device.
It seems there is an easier solution for the less technically inclined to get more power out of their Nook Colors, as long as they don't mind spending a little money.
Nook2Android loads the Cyanogenmod 7 (CM7) modded version of Android Gingerbread for the Nook Color onto Sandisk microSD cards that people can purchase: from 8 GB to 32 GB. These cards are not some illegal hacks from China; the ROM is distributed the under GNU Public License and Android Open Source Project, so customers are technically only paying for the Sandisk cards. CM7 only takes up about 3 GB on each card, which means there is plenty of space for files on the card.
Because the Nook Color is designed to boot from a micro-SD Card first by default, the e-reader will run the preloaded CM7 if you select it in the boot menu. When you remove the micro-SD card, the e-reader will revert back to Nook OS without any traces of CM7.
According to Nook2Android, your dual-booting Nook Color running CM7 will be able to:
- Connect to any Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Download the Gmail, Facebook, Pandora, radio, Kindle and even the Nook app
- Access weather information, news and Google Calendar
- Stream Hulu and Netflix on the Nook Color
- Enjoy the apps selection in the Android Market
The 8 GB Nook2Android card starts at $35, the 16 GB is $50 and 32 GB is $90, but it's a small investment to turn your $250 Nook Color into the $500 tablet it could be.
I have yet to try this solution out but for those of you who are more experienced with rooting the Nook Color, let us know if the Nook2Android card is worth the money.
- Beyond simple rooting: Turning the Nook Color into a complete tablet
- TechRepublic: How to hack the $250 Nook Color into a full Android tablet