Hands On, Hypothetically, With a Nook Color

March 25, 2011 | 5 Comments

I can neither confirm nor deny most of what you are about to read.

One of my current web projects is a contracted site for a company that makes mobile apps for iOS and Android. Because of their market, we’re taking seriously how the site itself looks in mobile browsers. Between this project and the growing Android market, it occurred to me that I should probably start testing sites in Android too, just like I do in iOS, Mac, and Windows. (And because I’m feeling generous, I’m going to go ahead and confirm that all of this paragraph is true.)

Nook colorThe snag for testing sites in Android was that whole money thing. I don’t have hundreds of dollars under my mattress that I can yank out to go buy an android device. (In the interest of personal safety, I’m also going to now confirm that the previous sentence, particularly the first half of it, is also true. You know, the bit about money under my mattress. There isn’t any. Don’t break in to my house.) But along the way, I realized that Barnes and Noble makes the Nook Color, this neat color e-reader which is built on Android and includes a browser -— a browser which I could use for Android testing.

Though I do most of my e-book reading on the go on an iPad, we still have an old Kindle around the house that my daughter, wife and I use. So, I wondered to myself, what if instead we had an ebook reader that I could also use for occasionally testing sites in Android. Thus, a scheme formed, but with one little hangup — we have this nice library of Kindle books, and no Nook books.

Now here is where things start to get very hypothetical. Really. You shouldn’t trust any of the rest of this, because I will neither confirm nor deny it. Apparently, there are people out there who have figured out how to ‘root’ the Nook color to install other apps on it. Apps like the Kindle app. You know, the one that can read Kindle books. Like the Kindle books we have in our Kindle library. That would mean we could, um, use a Nook in place of our Kindle.


It’s not illegal to do something like this, so if you were to do it, you wouldn’t have to hide it. But it might feel kind of dirty. Like not wanting to tell the barista that you were buying these really good coffee beans just to take them home, grind them, brew them, throw out the coffee, and dump the grounds in your garden. Or you could look at it as a win/win, having both good coffee and happy plants in your garden.

So if I were going to get a Nook, it would probably go something like this…

I would see that someone was selling a Nook on a well-known classifieds website for a reasonable price, along with a nice case. I would contact the person and arrange to meet them. I would look over the Nook, decide it’s a very nice reader that’s well thought out in both the hardware and software, and purchase it. Before going home, I might purchase an inexpensive microSD card from a large electronics store.

At home, I would find the instructions to root my Nook with a simple search on a major search engine. I would download a file to format onto the microSD and then insert into the Nook to root it. If I were going to do something like this, I would go with the original 2.1 version of Android, even though there are instructions for newer versions. I don’t need anything fancy and 2.1 looks like it would do everything I require. About 30 minutes after I started, I would have a rooted Nook that retained all of the original functionality of the Nook with a browser for testing sites in Android. And the Kindle app. And Evernote for my wife. Oh, and Dropbox, just because.

AngryBirdsAnd probably Angry Birds.

For the kids.

And after those kids were in bed, I would probably spend the evening getting acquainted with the new device. Having no prior experience with Android devices, I would probably step into a learning curve about app launchers and such — the kind of stuff I’m not used to worrying about with an iPad. I would wonder what the appeal of Android is over iOS, but I’d also be pleased that I have a little tablet that works well for reading Kindle books.

Then I would play Angry Birds Rio that I got free from the Amazon Appstore.


  • any idea what version of android the nook is running?

    From what i can tell, most consumers will own tablets of the 2.4 or 3.0 flavor. 3.0 probably being the most dominant on all the major devices. I bring it up, because i tested a epad devices for a few weeks, running 2.1. Lets say it was not great. It worked fine, but if i were a consumer i’d return it asap. Its pretty bland and weak.

    Doing the exact thing as you. Testing sites. I just want to test or devices that the real world would be likely using. So the nook may not be a ton of help for your ccore reason.

    • John Chandler

      It runs 2.1, though there are the means to upgrade it to 2.2, 2.3 or 3.0.

      I very well might have a microSD that can boot the Nook in to 3.0, but I can’t confirm that for you.

  • Love “buying these really good coffee beans just to take them home, grind them, brew them, throw out the coffee, and dump the grounds in your garden” 🙂

    But don’t love that FaceBook liking this, instead liked a New York Times subcription link! No idea if the bug is your end of FaceBook – it’s probably FaceBook …

    • John Chandler


      Thanks for the heads up. I just tested the like button and it worked for me, so maybe there was some kind of temporary glitch?

  • fb like works here too.

    im excited for what HP does with their web OS tablet-hope it catches on with consumers better than the palm pre did. WebOS is really 10x smoother than android, the Pre just had crappy hardware.

    I still think ipad will always have a dominant place in the marketplace. Their price is hard to beat on a non-subsidized product like this.