Saturday August 29 , 2015

Best ROM options Nook HD

nookhdcm11We have a couple of Nook HD devices in our house (known as “hummingbird” platform in Android circles) and I wanted to see what options there were to run as an Android device.  interestingly, there are not as many options for ROMs as there were with the Nook color.  It only takes about 10 minutes to try a ROM once you have the SD card setup, but hopefully my experience can save you some time and downloads. The general steps for updating your Nook HD are:

  1. Create an SD Card image
  2. Copy CWM loader, ROM, and Google Apps zip files to SD.
  3. Boot SD card on nook and Wipe and Reset device. After that apply the new boot loader, ROM, and Google apps zip files in proper order.
  4. Reboot and enjoy.

Bottom Line:  I’ve been the happiest with Cyanogenmod version 11 as long as I have the app running to deal with the screen sensitivity issues. Before you try any of these I’d recommend you read the sections below on my tips for dealing with screen sensitivity and creating your SD card for booting.

ROM options for the Nook HD Stock ROM with Root on Android 4.0

If you just want to install anything and run apps that require root don’t bother updating the entire operating system to a version of the Android open source platform. The B&N system is very stable, easy to use, and launcher has nice integration with B&N (if you bought this as a book reader that’s nice). I noticed with some applications the version on stock were not as nice (older versions). Rooting lets you run applications you normally couldn’t and side load apps without the Play Store. To install the Stock ROM with root I simply got the stock image with root and copied it to a bootable SD image with the corresponding version of CWM. Details on [this thread]. If you’ve played with different versions and want to go back to stock that thread is key!

Carbon based ROM (Unofficial) on Android 4.3

The Carbon ROM is packed with a lot of extras - JAM packed. For the average user you many not appreciate all the options, you may even be confused by them. The ROM boots fast and works very well except I found the screen scrolling to be glitchy. When you do a slow press on something before swiping (like scrolling up a web page) it often takes that as a tap. This is a general issue for me on Nook HD but pronounced enough on Carbon ROM I wouldn’t use it. I assume the solution I found after I landed on CM 11 may work for Carbon ROM as well (see below section on screen sensitivity). This one is worth a try if you’re a serious fiddler and want to play a lot with your device. It’s basically an unofficial port so your mileage may very. [More details]

Cyanogenmod 10.1.3 based on 4.2

I didn't see any reason to use this version since the newer one works as well. I did try it out for a day but seemed like I might. I had no screen sensitivity issues while using it and apps launch about as fast as the stock ROM. I’d recommend just trying 10.2.1.

Cyanogenmod 10.2.1 based on 4.3

This is probably the sweet spot of options  if you want a recent ROM without having to install any applications to deal with the screen sensitivity issues that appear on  on other ROMs. I found this ROM  to be very stable but certainly missed the theme options and other features of version 11. If you want a 4.3 ROM jam packed with all the Android options try the Carbon ROM instead. [Install Details for CM 10.2]

Cyanogenmod 11 ROM based on Android 4.4

I tried a few snapshots and a nightly build (most recent ones). It looks great and has some of the latest theming options built in which is pretty nice (change it up to look like latest version of Android with fonts, icons, etc). My experience with the most recent snapshot was the screen was sometimes glitchy at lower dragging swipes and the apps launched very much slower than stock (compared side by side with son’s stock nook). After trying the most recent nightly the performance seems better for app launching and the screen problem seems to be addressed by the app mentioned below (good for any ROM I’d assume). I decided to stay with CM11 as my daily version and I’m pretty happy with it. I think this article is a bit easier to follow than the XDA forums for the install [Link].

Screen sensitivity

I’ve noticed this on both nook devices on the stock ROM but it’s not a big problem. On other ROMs I found it made the device unusable because it was always selecting things while I was swiping. In the XDA Forums you’ll find a thread on “Glitchy Screen” and a kernel “fuzz” patch but it’s only good for the HD+. I found the SGS Screen Booster app with the default settings made this problem practically go away. The app isn’t for the nook but tweaks something that deals with the issue because after installing on my CM 11 based system all the issues in multiple apps immediately stopped. Make sure to try this [Play Store Link]!

Resolving Issues with SD cards and booting the Nook HD

On the topic of creating a boot image for your SD card I have a recommendation to avoid a lot of troubles. Many of the XDA forms  recommend simply using a fresh SD card and copying the appropriate files to it instead of using a tool to burn/write an image to it.  You'll also find a lot of forum users complaining  about not booting from the SD card properly.  Don’t bother trying any of the workarounds for ejecting the SD card or powering on a exchanging the nook, or booting 10 dozen times. While you may have to try booting the device a few times to get it to boot from an SD card your problem is likely the format of the SD card. Instead you’re best off to grab one of the Verygreen 1GB images and use a desktop tool to write that to your SD card. Then you can extract whatever files they wanted you to put on the SD card and copy them (so you’re using the image just to get a properly formatted and bootable card). I found this to be a foolproof way to get a Nook to boot from an SD card when no other options worked. [SD Image Download I used]

Good luck, hope some of my experiences helped.

   

Should you Root the Nook Color?

rootedSites talking about rooting the Nook Color  typically advise installing a new Android operating system (ROM) on the device. These ROMS are usually custom built for the Nook Color, based on some variant of CyanogenMod, which is an open-source variant of the Android operating system. The Nook Color operating system is also a variant of Android too -just a very old one. While B&N has their own “App Store” most the applications you’d want only run on newer versions of Android and may only be available on the Google App Store. By updating your Nook Color to a more modern Android version you can get a whole new interface for your Nook Color and install applications not previously available to you.

Sounds great right? Why not do it? For some people installing and playing with their devices is a lot of fun. They like tweaking it and seeing if they can do with the Nook Color what would cost hundreds more with a modern Android tablet. I’ve installed five different ROMs on my Nook Color and each had their own drawbacks but the consistent drawback is none of them are as responsive and usable as the original firmware. The original software on the Nook isn’t the greatest, but when you tap things it “just works” and you can load a book and start reading in a flash. In all the ROMs I installed I found similar operations often took a fair bit longer - and some of them were so slow the device was not very useful.

What about these N2A cards that let you run Android just by putting in an SD card? The Nook Color is already pretty slow and I don’t think running the operating system from an SD card is going to be a really usable experience. Save your money and keep reading.

My advice if you’re wanting something new for your Nook reading experience at this point and you have a Nook Color is to sell it on eBay for $25 and buy a Nook HD for $50. The Nook HD has twice the clarity of the Nook Color and is far more powerful and able to run alternate versions of Android. The $25-30 for the upgrade will also give you the Google Play store on your Nook without having to root the device - and the newer B&N Nook interface is quite nice and simple.

So my advice is use the Nook Color as-is or swap up to a Nook HD for $25-30 on eBay. Whether you stay with the Nook operating system, or try a newer version of Android, you’ll find it was money well spent.

If you’re still not convinced and want to root the Nook Color I have two threads to start with.

1) List of NC Roms. I’d start with SCHIZOID. It’s the fastest and most useful out of the box of all the ones I tried.

2) Restoring NC back to stock. I’m guessing you’ll do this before you sell it on eBay and get a Nook HD!

   

Reliable way to Root Nook Simple Touch

nst2I recently dusted off the Nook Simple Touch and decided to try some of the root options, mostly to get the Kindle app working. I was amazed at the volume of YouTube videos and XDA Forum threads as well as root options available. Obviously the Simple Touch isn’t the hottest device to hack anymore, so it’s hard to find out what’s really the best to start with  all of the options and versions. Bottom Line? Update your nook to 1.2.1 version B&N firmware and root with the most recent version of RootManager.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of “rooting” or installing a new ROM on an Android device the process is pretty straightforward. You download an installer image to put on an SD card that you start your device with. That installer tool on your SD card does all the magic. Generally, if you follow the steps for any tool exactly you’ll be successful.

I started with TouchNooter [Check out the XDA Forum] but regardless of the Nook firmware version I started with (tried 1.0.0 and 1.1) the experience didn’t work quite right. It went into a reboot loop after TouchNooter and then after it reset itself, I had the apps, but no root. I wasn’t a fan of the launcher application installed by default since it left a launcher option on the right side of the screen that sometimes got in the way. After looking at a couple of other options with mixed reviews I decided to try NookManager. okManager [Check out this thread] has a nice wizard interface with options anchored to the four physical buttons on the device. It guides you through restoring the device to factory settings (actually worked after other things didn’t) and is very easy to setup. I skipped the steps to backup since I had no content on the device and I also skipped the steps on formatting the SD card since I wasn’t interested in using it for storage. After reboot I was back into the Nook with an option to pick the alternate option (save the option by hitting checkbox first). The interface installed was a lot easier to work with for me than TouchNooter.

I also found a modified Kindle app [link] that was tweaked to make the off-white background completely white and the black a true black (for e-Ink screens). I’d recommend downloading the file and installing it. If you’re not familiar with ADB you can read more here on installing it and connecting to your device. Before you try it, be sure to launch the ADBConnect application on the nook first.

There are quite a few resources that list old application files you might try installing and find useful (Google Play books, Webster, Bible, Opera Mini) [Try this one for starters].

The most common reason for rooting the NST is likely to add other reading applications the B&N doesn’t allow by default. If you’re interested in those options give NookManager a try. Make sure to follow B&N instructions to update your nook to 1.2 first [Click here and select link for “Get 1.2.1 Today”]

Side Note: If you’re on a Mac the easiest way to create the NookManager SD disk is to use the ApplePi Baker.

   

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