Nook color rooted: Hands on

Nookdevs have released information on how to root your nook color. So naturally, I had to run out and get one.  Who doesn’t want a multitouch android tablet for $250?  The instructions for rooting are extremely simple. You really only need microSD card and a Linux/Windows/Mac computer to connect to.  After rooting, your nook will work exactly as it did before, but you can now install android applications on it.  Many applications are built for a phone that has more physical buttons, so I have run into some issues, but over all, the applications that work tend to work well.

Join me after the break for more thoughts, a video of it in action, and a few pictures.

The specs are decent, with a 1024×600 screen, 8GB internal storage with microSD expansion slot, wifi, and an 800MHz ARM A8 processor. As you can see in the last picture, the viewing angle on the screen is fantastic. The battery probably won’t last the advertised 8 hours playing games, but I haven’t had to charge it yet and it has been playing music, browsing the web, and amusing children for about 24 hours now.

Installing software is a bit of a pain. You can’t install things directly from android stores online through the device yet. Instead, you have to search the web for the .apk file to download then install it via the command line on your computer. This can be a pain because the .apk files are rarely labelled with which release they are, so I’ve gotten a few older versions of software that simply wouldn’t work even though I’ve seen them working in other youtube videos.  So far I’ve gotten decent use out of the Dolphin browser, Google Maps, Pandora, and Angry birds.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see torrents popping up with bunches of tested applications for nook. hint. hint.

Removing applications can be a pain too. The theory is easy, you open the console and view what files are installed, then issue a simple command to remove the one you want. However, they don’t necessarily install with an obvious file name. For example, I installed google voice search. Realizing I don’t have a microphone, I went to remove it. However, there are several files labelled google and none have the word voice. How do I know which one it is? A quick google search would probably find me the answer, but I can’t wait till I can just drag the icon to the trash can.

Over all, I can’t wait to see how much better this gets. If I could install software from the android stores I find online, have flash, and remove applications easier, I’d be very happy.

72 thoughts on “Nook color rooted: Hands on

  1. I’ve been tempted to run out and get one as soon as I heard about the first success. I’m even more tempted now. Time to do a little debian/ubuntu research!

  2. Dear HAD,

    You no-good rotten blog. How dare you tempt me into blowing my already stretched budget this month. How did you know I’ve recently become jealous of my coworkers new Galaxy Tabs? I was just fine and contempt, until you dangled this sweet, juicy news in front of me.

    I’ve already confirmed they are in stock at my local Best Buy. I will also have to buy flowers on the way back in an attempt to win back the affection of my girlfriend when she finds out how I’ve blown $250.

    I hope you’re happy.

    Bill

  3. that’s exactly how big i wish my phone was. if i could be in charge of cellphone design.. there’d be all kinds of novelty android phones on the market. novelty for usefulness though, like thicker phones with dynamo charger on the back and larger battery. i’ll get a color nook or something when it can compete with the lowly netbook in terms of cpu/ram.. and effin flash. browsing the internet without flashplayer is like browsing the web on a windows 95 pc, which i did last year and discovered that 97% of internet content is flash

  4. @Bill Porter: spend that $250 on a 3:2:10 ratio of bacardi 151 rum:malibu coconut rum:pineapple juice and unleash the affection

  5. Why not spend way less (139 or less) on a sylvania android tablet from toys r us? It may not have multi touch but it has video out and is designed to work with most apps

  6. For the hardware buttons problem, there’s SoftKeys, available on the XDA forums, though it’s a pain to configure, and doesn’t solve everything.

    And the Market is accessible, with a non-trivial procedure(Took me a factory restore to get it working), also available on the XDA forums.

  7. For a market go to applanet.net. For a launcher that’s great and let’s you drag and drop to uninstall use launcherpro. And as mentioned above use softkeys to solve that problem. This is a full android tablet experience on one of the best screens I’ve ever seen.

  8. I’m sure once more people get into this, they will develop a button emulator for it. That way any future apps for a android will work on it.

    Looks great though.

  9. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Keep going with the hacking, and when you’ve sorted your issues it’d be great if you could write up a full guide with every step from unbox new Nook through to play with fully functional tablet.

  10. Can someone please tell me, is there any conceivable way this could have a linux app, SCIM, enabled on it, so I could, say, add alternate language input on it, and add Japanese input to this?

    I would kill for a device like this, color screen tablet that can also do Japanese input as it’s linux enabled.

    Drooling at this.

  11. The nook color is a bit sluggish. Scrolling it can lag sometimes. Rooting it can be attractive but I returned mine after 2 days.

    The return can be a bit of a pain. They’ll ask a bunch of questions.

  12. @Bill Porter, you need to sell is as, you saved $300 on a Galaxy tab. That’s the way my wife shops
    it’s the amount saved that counts not what you spent, she leaves it up to me to work it out with the bank.

  13. so what happens if you try to install the flash apk available for android phones? I have a hacked version of flash on my evo that lets me watch hulu on the phone. Love it but I wouldn’t mind having this tablet as well.

  14. So Botwickenator, it can be done? Is that correct?

    If so, I absolutely MUST BUY THIS NOW!!

    The only thing I could ask more for is a larger version, say A4 sized screen. Like a Kindle DX version of this, in color.

    My technophile dreams just came true!

  15. Getjar store gets around alot of the problems with finding some of the more common apps for this device. They provide a simple download link as an alternate to texting or a store app.
    Plus there is a store app or two you can install.
    I’ve rooted mine since a couple days after they released the root. Runs most things wonderfully.
    With GetJar, just select the Galaxy tab or the G2 for your smartphone and it picks up on most of the important apps.
    I just need a version of Google Sky that will run on it though and I’ll be set. :)

  16. What is the word on the battery life? The article says it was being used in a multitude of ways and was still running 24+ hours later…but in the video you say the battery is “decent”.

  17. Wow. That’s pretty cool. I might get a Nook Color after seeing this! I wouldn’t get it for reading (I already have a Kindle 3 and it’s much better), but I would get it so that I could root it. It’s much easier to hack than Kindle is! The specs disappoint me, though. I was hoping for a little more than 800 MHz… Maybe 1 GHz like most smart phones. But then again, it might be more expensive…

  18. I have had my Nook Color for a little over a week now and love it.

    If you want an inexpensive tablet with a capacitive screen and 512 of ram this is a good way to go. In addition if you consider hacking it a feature then yeah it also has some fun there.

    There is a ton of useful info on the XDA forums for those that are interested.

    In addition there has also been some videos of vanilla android running on them. The best guess I have heard for a custom rom is early January.

  19. @lucien

    I believe the Archos has a custom bootloader so you cannot load your own firmware. I believe it will only run signed ROMs from Archos.

    It’s a blessed Android experience, but it lacks the ability to run your own software that I believe the Nook provides.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong. My information may be a few months old.

  20. For those thinking of buying this as an e-reader please note that the Nook Color does *not* use e-ink. It will strain your (1 remaining?) eyes!

    Far better for reading books is to buy a Kindle or regular Nook.

  21. I picked up a Haipad M701-R Android Tablet for 160.00 US after I watched Ashens try to make it look bad.
    He only succeeded in making me more interested in it and I bought one (use his merimobiles link if you do too, they are great!):

    Thanks to the help of the folks over at http://www.androidtablets.net I’ve managed to do a couple of things with it like update the firmware to the latest version and achieve root (doing nothing more than running z4root).
    It’s rumored that 2.2 is coming down the line for them, but we’ll see.

    The thing was usable before, but with very little tweaking becomes a very decent little device.

    There are a TON of affordable little Android tablets out there, and some of them aren’t even crap!
    -and that’s the pitfall kids -most of them are crap.

    Hacking one of these things looks pretty darn cool, and it’s an awesome hack, especially since the hardware seems to be pretty good, but I’m having a decent time with my Haipad for now.

  22. I rooted my color about a week ago, found a ton of software apps best is APPLANET set up a file and you have the market apps free. Appinstaller and appmonster pro or ASTRO file will help with loading and uninstalling apps. and look up an app called spare parts to make all your apps compatible with the screen. I have a droid X and get 90% of what I can on the DX on my NOOKcolor plus the NOOK and KINDLE features are better on the NOOKcolor. Especially magizines on the Nook…… after about a week of searching all of your issues will be clear just look in the right places.

  23. There is a whole lot of dev action at slatedroid(dot)com. The Pandigital Novel (another ereader) has been tweaked with market and many other Android features. If the nook will respond to ADB (Android DeBug Interface) than many of the how-to’s such as market enabling and the like should also apply (or could be reworked) to the nook.

  24. Just a quick tip for any android device. Use dropbox to quickly install apps when you don’t have an app store. Also great for sharing apps between friends.

    Since I install a new ROM every other day or so I just keep the dropbox.apk handy, install it first, then just go down the list and install all my favorite apps.

  25. hey everyone to get apps from the android market you can use astro app and back up ur apps and transfer them to the NC, a tip to put any app and ur paid ones too. but you have to have a rooted phone. their a lot of apps to make this the best android tablet. enjoy

  26. I just got mine working, as of dec 16, the current auto-nooter enables the marketplace.

    This thing is badass. Battery life definitely along what was advertised.

  27. Although I could have done the rooting myself, I paid a guy $60 to do it for me. It took about 30 minutes. He remoted into my PC, loaded the new OS, rand the scripts and it was done.

    Now, a bunch of the forums are saying that this upgrade may cause the battery in the unit to go critical and explode. Is there any truth to this and, is there a way to prevent it? Thanks!

    1. @inthefrey,
      If he did the root at 2.1, your battery is fine. If he did the early version of 2.2, it disables the software battery protection. However, I’ve read that there is a hardware failsafe as well.

  28. @inthefrey

    If you have it just rooted and not running the early aosp build from sd then that issue does not even come in anywhere.

    If running the early build then yes there is no software monitoring fix was in the works last I checked but as said hardware has controls also.

    Your fine either way.

  29. This post almost made me run out and buy a Nook, but after some much researching, the Archos 70 has more features and is faster. And yes, it can be rooted as well. Just FYI for anyone weighing their options.

  30. @Bill Porter

    For me the features of double the ram and higher screen resolution trumped the features of the Archos 70 but I can understand how it would be better for some others depending on their usage.

  31. Wow, so the Nook color isn’t awesome in the screen resolution after-all. I was confused by the NookDevs spec site, which says “Hardware Scaling: 854×480 scaled to 1024×600 ” under the GPU section. What exactly does that mean?

    I did some googling for the GPU chipset, and found sites that say it’s render resolution is only 854×480, though I will admit I may be reading it wrong.

    But what you do find if you google ‘Nook color 854×480′ is that the nook refuses to render video over that resolution, which makes sense if the chipset max res is that resolution.

    So if this is true, the Nook really isn’t a higher res device then the Archos 70. It has a physically higher res screen, but it’s not rendering that much res, only scaling up to that many pixels.

    Please someone show me where I’m wrong (which I admit I most likely am). But at least for videos the Archos 70 wins via same resolution but faster processor and support for true 720p video rendering via HDMI port.

  32. Ok, answer my own question. Android only supports up to 854×480 resolution. Until maybe 3.0, all screens, no matter what physical resolution, are limited to 854×480. I didn’t know that.

  33. @Bill Porter

    For the default video player using hardware encoding yes. Though the default player is also limited on codecs.

    If you use a another player like RockPlayer it can output at the device max resolution.

    Though with the upcoming community builds of Android for the Nook Color it appears that will easily be over come if B&N doesn’t do so themselves in their upcoming update.

    Then again most of my video is encoded at 640×480 from when I backed up my DVD’s originally and I’m too lazy to rip them again.

  34. @Paul

    No Android apps can render over 854 x 480 resolution right now. It’s a limitation of the core Android system. So even if you are using a player that can play higher res videos, it only renders them at 854×480 and the hardware is scaling it to screen resolution. That won’t change till Android 3.0, and Google is only ‘hinting’ that.

    Now I understand what NookDevs meant by “Hardware Scaling: 854×480 scaled to 1024×600″.

  35. So I see the programs are downscaling them essentially. An interesting note is the default player is more picky on what it downscales from at least what I have seen other users report.

    @Bill what is your normal memory usage?

    With everything I like loaded I found I use 200-215 Mbs of memory before I even open some the programs I like to use at once such as web browser, irc, ebooks. That’s why I didn’t even look at devices with less than 512 of memory.

  36. I have a Samsung Galaxy S, which only has 326 MB usable. I’ve had 10+ apps open with no slow down.

    With nothing running, it only uses 130MB. Web, email, chat and music player all running is 200MB. Throw on Angry Birds and its 240MB.

    So yeah, more RAM is always better, but I find it’s still usable with less. After all it’s linux, so I assume it handles low memory somewhat efficiently.

    But the rest of the features, 720p hardware accelerated video, HDMI, 1Ghz, camera, working bluetooth, microphone and USB host more appealing for what I want to do with it.

  37. Rooted NC via auto nooter. Can’t put the thing down. Took a while to figure out how to install apk’s without using the command line – but it can be done. Chugs the battery though. Where can i get a cool hack a day sticker for mine??

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