I recently purchased a Nook Color with the full intention of rooting it for use as an android tablet. This post logs my experiences so that other people who face some of the same problems I did have to do a little less leg work. So far I’m very happy with the device, and aside from a few interface foibles based around the lack of buttons I find it to be equal to and in some cases surpassing the Samsung Galaxy Tab (we have some at the office, so I can do a direct comparison). As time goes on, I’ll continue to edit this post as I figure out new things, or old issues in here cease to make sense.
Android Eating An Apple

Hacking

I followed the instructions listed at the nookdevs site. I have a few minor notes about the process.

  • In step 1, I highly recommend just doing the B&N 1.0.1 upgrade first then rooting.
  • Once the nook rebooted, it caused the windows 7 box it was attached to blue screen (Guess this is what I get for using windows from time to time, back to Ubuntu). For about a week after the rooting, any time I would connect the nook up to my laptop it would immediately blue screen. I’m frankly not sure what I did to resolve this, but the problem has gone away. I did follow these instructions on how to remove old device drivers, but only go so far as enabling myself to view hidden devices before it stopped causing the crash. ¯\(°_o)/¯
  • After the rooting, the nook asked me to put in my gmail account. No matter what I did with my account (I tried changing the password, etc), it would not let me connect it. So I created a new gmail account from the screen and that worked fine. Immediately afterwords I added my gmail account and it added no problem. So it’s only the onboarding screen that gave me trouble. Following this, all the apps and such on my real account transferred over, so we’ll just call this a minor hiccup. Probably this is just my failure to follow the instructions under Enable Market.
  • Install Root Explorer. You’ll find you’ll need it for a number of other steps, and it really is worth it to make those steps faster.
  • Get ADB working.

Usability

Hardware

  • Wifi turns off whenever the screen does. I tried on solution (under #1) of downloading Spare Parts and setting wifi sleep policy to never, but that only seems to make it that wifi stays on when plugged in.
  • B&N kept the nook on some pretty conservative settings for CPU scaling. try setting the scaling to some better defaults (under #10)
  • You can also overclock the processor. I have not done this (yet) but when I do I’ll post the speed I was able to get mine up to.
  • There are some applications that are installed by default and are even running that are of no use on this device. Specifically the phone. Remove the apps, and word on the street is that it expands the battery life (under #11).
  • The nook has a special charging cable, and it will only tell you that it is charging when using that cable. That being said, plugging it in via usb with a standard micro usb cable does in fact charge the nook. It just won’t /say/ it’s being charged.

Launcher

  • Without the normal buttons, most software doesn’t work well on the nook. The rooted setup comes with a pieces of software called softkeys to resolve this. You should follow the instructions for setting softkeys as your default launcher. After you have that working, I highly recommend swapping it out for Button Savior, as I found it to be a much more usable piece of software.
  • Install Home Switcher from the market as this is a great way to switch out your default launcher.
  • Launcher Pro was my first choice for a launcher for the nook. It had a few minor issues like the set of buttons at the bottom are not particularly useful given that they are designed for a phone. I switched to Zeam which makes swapping the bottom buttons out trivial. It also feels a lot more responsive.
  • Softkeys/Button Savior is a good quick way to get moving, but to make the nook into a more usable tablet I really recommend you remap the volume keys (under #7) to back and menu. You can put volume in the task bar. How often do you really need to change the volume and not have access to the task bar anyway?
  • I didn’t really care for the nook lock screen, so I used WidgetLocker. Here are some notes (under #9)

Environment

  • Some people are bothered that stuff on the screen is really small. Personally I prefer it as it gives me more screen real estate if everything stays small. But, if you want to fatten things up a bit you can by changing the LCD Density (under #6).
  • So the default wallpaper really doesn’t fit the device anymore. You can pick up the original Galaxy Tab wallpapers as well as a bunch more here and here.

Software

Most software has worked fine, some of it is terrible. I’ll summarize the software that I have tried, focusing on stuff I have paid for so others can have a good idea if their favorite apps work or not before they take the plunge (assuming of course that they care about any of the same software that I do).
Applications

Almost all applications have worked fine. I’ll only keep notes on those that had any issues. Here’s a short list of apps that are known working: Adobe Reader, Advanced Task Manager, Aldiko Premium, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Maps, Home Switcher, IM+ Pro, Kindle, Mozilla Firefox, RealCalc Scientific Calculator, Repligo Reader, Todo.txt touch

Market
I upgraded to the 2.2 market. I basically followed the nook devs approach but synced it to my device via dropbox.
LauncherPro (0.8.2)
Works, don’t see a way to get rid of phone button which is worthless.
Quadrant
Works, Just noting that the nook benchmarks between the Samsung Galaxy S and the Moto Droid X at 944 which makes it the second fastest listed 2.1 device. It will be interesting to see how fast it is on 2.2 whenever that happens.
Swype
So far no one has this working. Frankly, I love swype on my phone but I don’t feel like the stock keyboard is so bad in the tablet form factor. Slide It keyboard has been recommended as a replacement.

Games
More games are broken then applications, but most have worked fine. I’ll only keep notes on those that had any issues. Here’s a short list of games that are known working: Angry Birds, Archipeligo, Crusade of Destiny, Spira Defence Pro, Tower Raiders GOLD, Void Defence, Wave Defence Pro

Dungeon Defenders (2.0)
Initial install worked fine and it downloaded the content, but then it just dropped back to the Launcher. I needed to manually download the content pack from the dungeon defenders site following these instructions. I used DD_2.0_Android_PVR.zip. After this, it worked fine.
Retro Defense (1.25)
Playable but surrounded by black bars on all sides. Not recommended.
Robo Defense (1.4.1 Build 2071)
Unplayable. Lots of buttons are missing, and it looks terrible, scrunched to the center of the screen.
Symbolism (2.1)
Surrounded on 3 sides with black bars, feint connection attempt never came back. Functionally works but looks terrible.

Misc

These are a set of notes and pointers that I have found that I didn’t really care much about, but since I did the leg work they may be of use to you.

History

  • 2011/01/24 – Removed recommendation for Launcher Pro, added Zeam, removed recommendation for Softkeys added Button Savior. Cleaned up games section