Updated: 8/19/2012 with info on “Ribbon Root” and Jelly Bean.
Introduction to Rooting the Nook Tablet & a Comparison to Other Reasonably-Priced Android Tablets
Note: Want to know what “rooting” is good for? How does it CHANGE my tablet? How do I “root” it? Is it worth it? What do I loose? In this and the associated articles, I will answer those questions. I also give a general review and comparison of the Nook Tablet to other tablets that I own. This is the first of a series of articles on the Nook Tablet. Other articles (see the list at the bottom of this article) address other, more specific issues of the Nook.
In the past year, I have owned 3 ViewSonic G-Tablets (gTab), a Nook Color (NC), a Kindle Fire, (KF), and now, an 8GB Nook Tablet (NT8).
Here is a list of the pro’s and con’s of tablets I have owned:
- ViewSonic G-Tablet: This is a 10.1″ tablet that includes a camera, microphone, micro SDCard slot, USB Host adapter and low cost (sub-$200). The stock operating system (Tap-n-Tap) is terrible but the device can easily be rooted to flash a custom ROM. It has a lot of support (including this website). However, there are a lot of complaints about the limited viewing angle and the inability to view the device outdoors.
- Nook Color: This 7″ tablet is pretty nice, has a low price ($140) and has most of the benefits of the Nook Tablet except that it does NOT have a microphone or BlueTooth.
- Kindle Fire: This 7″ tablet sells for $200 but has a locked bootloader which makes it pretty difficult to root. There is a utility that makes it much easier and I have developed a step-by-step guide on this website. Still, the device does NOT include a microphone or an expansion memory card slot so it is very limited in that regard.
- Nook Tablet: The NT is a 7″ tablet with a lot of features (see the list below) and a few limits. It comes in two versions. The older, 16GB version sells for $250. The newer, 8GB version sells for $200. ROMs and custom software for the 16GB version (NT16) may not work on the 8GB device (NT8) but anything that works for the NT8 should also work on the NT16. On all Nook devices (Nook Color, Nook Tablet, etc), the BN stock operating system is JUNK! If I was forced to use it exclusively, I would sell my NT. There ARE some special benefits that BN offers to stock users. One benefit is their book lending service that, if you use it, could be important to you. There are probably others but I don’t use any of them so I cannot say.
Here are some of the main reasons I dislike the BN interface so much:
- The selection of applications is SEVERELY LIMITED and most of the apps that are available are outrageously priced.
- You cannot use the Android Market or Amazon AppStore
- You cannot sync with GMail or other Google services
- The user interface (UI) is locked in to Dumb, Dumb, & Dumber. It does not look good, it is not intuitive, and it is not changeable.
- There are many other complaints that I see on the Internet but I did not spend enough time with the BN OS to make any other judgments.
Disclaimer:There may be “work-arounds” for some of these issues but the resulting “solution” is still FAR SHORT of what I want in a Tablet.
However, there are options available.
– The SAFEST Way to expand the capabilities of the Nook Tablet is to create an SDCard that will boot the device into a custom ROM. This does not “root” the Nook, or modify the device. Best – it does NOT void your warranty. You STILL have a STANDARD STOCK Nook! NOTICE: I no longer recommend or enocourage this option. I now believe that the best option is to go for a full root and install Jelly Bean Android.
- Team-B has pretty solid (Alpha) version of CyanogenMod 7 (Android 2.3.7, Gingerbread) that you can run (via the SDCard) on an 8GB Nook Tablet. This ROM is good for daily use but there are some limits. Download the SD Version HERE (MD5 1e1932c49dda7345a5575de2612af30a) NOTICE: Do NOT try to flash this ROM to the INTERNAL memory. It WILL brick your Nook. Note: this is an old, unsupported version of Android. There is no upgrade option.
- Update: Team-B has updated their ROM to Beta and it will now run on the internal memory of the Nook Tablet 8GB. As of 10 July there is no SDCard version available. See this thread for more guidance.
– If you wish to ROOT your Nook, it will modify your device and (technically) void your warranty.
- Veronica has developed a simple rooting procedure that she calls “Ribbon Root.” It enables some additional functionality while retaining the B&N special services. However, it does not seem to work on BN version 1.4.3 or later. In such cases, I recommend that you select a different option. NOTE: I do not recommend this version. If you are going to root the device, just go ahead and put the custom Jelly Bean ROM on it.
- One implementation of the CyanogenMod CM9 (Android 4.0.4, IceCreamSandwich) can be flashed to the internal memory of either 8gb or 16gb models (see here). It is a little less functional than either of the other options but it does include the nice ICS graphics (3D apps, etc). NOTICE: This ROM times out around the first of each month and must be updated.
- There is now a version of Jelly Bean that will run on either 8gb or 16gb Nook Tablets. I strongly recommend it. You can find more info about it here: Jelly Bean & Root for Nook Tablet 1.4.3.
So, WHY do I like the Nook Tablet?
- The 7″ form factor is RIGHT! It fits your hand, you can put it into a simple (and cheap) notepad folder and take it with you anywhere. (BTW, these CHEAP folders do not advertise that you have a valuable computer so it is less likely to be stolen!) You can even slip it into your purse or (a large) pocket. Don’t try that with a 10″ tablet! 😉
- The display is really bright and clear. If you turn the brightness up, it is easily view-able outside (especially if you are in the shade).
- The device is very responsive. I don’t experience slow-downs or hangs. The processor is fast and everything just works.
- There is a Micro-SDCard slot. This is a BIG deal. The card slot allows you to store MUCH more data than with just the 8GB internal memory. I know it works with a 16GB card and I suspect it will also support the 32GB cards as well.
- You can easily ROOT the device. This is a BIGGER deal than any of the other items in the list. The fact that you have an SDCard slot – and the fact that the NT will boot FIRST from the card slot – makes it easy to root and modify.
- There is a microphone to allow for audio input to the device. This is also BIG deal. It opens up search audio search functions and even dictation. You can also use it to make and receive VOIP phone calls. Note: some ROMS have not yet been able to make the mic work but they will figure it out soon.
- It is probable that the devs will be able to activate the USB OTG (On-The-Go) “host mode” on the device. If so, then the Nook will be able to act as a host allowing USB peripherals such as flash drives, mice, & keyboards to be attached via the USB connector.
- It is also likely that the NT has an internal Bluetooth radio (should be on the existing communications chip). When the devs have that working, you can easily connect a BT Headset (and use the Nook as a mobile VOIP phone), use an external BT Keyboard, or add other accessories.
There may be other options but, until I test them, I will not recommend them. Just because something is available for the Nook Tablet, does NOT mean that it will run on the 8GB version. My recommendations will be for those things that will run either.
Articles in this series with links to the videos
(articles with broken links are not yet published)
- Intro to Rooting the Nook Tablet (this article) – YouTube video
- Root Nook Using CWM Bootable SDCard – YouTube Video
- Backup Nook with CWM – YouTube Video
- Restore Nook with CWM – YouTube Video
- NO ROOT Install CM7 on Nook – not recommended – YouTube Video
- Veronica’s “Ribbon Root” unsupported & not recommended – YouTube Video
- Install CM9 (ICS) on Nook Internal – YouTube Video
- Dual Boot ICS/GB on Nook – not recommended – YouTube Video
- Howto Brick a Nook! CAUTION – YouTube Video
- How To UN-Brick a Nook REPAIR – YouTube Video
- Install CWM to Nook Internal Memory – YouTube Video
- Install TWRP to Nook Internal Memory – YouTube Video
- Make an UNBRICK Repartition Image – YouTube Video
- Burn an Image File to SDCard – YouTube Video
- How to create a LIVE Thumbdrive of Ubuntu – YouTube Video
- Jelly Bean on the Nook Newest version of Android (RECOMMENDED) – YouTube Video