I 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.
Barnes & Noble does a great job of keeping a moving target on their products to facilitate market interest. Their newer product from the “Simple Touch” line keeps the same comfortable feel of previous models yet it shaves nearly an ounce from the weight (making it lighter than Kindle Paperwhite too). Think about it - the eReader is about the same size and weight as a paperback novel!
So what’s New Here?
- Sadly one of the classic nook features is gone - physical page-turn buttons. This is classic nook and a part of every nook from the beginning. I don’t know if new users will miss this feature given it’s missing in much of the competition but .. wow! Personally I think it’s a loss.
- A light gray rubber “bumper” around the reader which has a nice look but doesn’t probably add any real protection in case of a fall.
- Oddly, power button is now on the left top side - does anyone at B&N not use a sleeve for their device? This is a terrible idea in my opinion.
- Loss of the SD card slot, which I’d say most people didn’t use but some will miss it. To make up for the lost of SD card you’ll now have 4GB which is ahead of previous generations and ahead of the competition.
- The rear cover is pretty minimal and sadly has lost the concave surface which in previous readers helped the Touch conform to the hand.
- The best news here is the display - now based on the Pearl e-Ink display which bumps up the reader's screen density from 167 pixels per pinch to the 212. The new nook is on par with the Kobo and Amazon readers again for screen clarity - which in my opinion is the primary value of eInk, not the lack of a backlight.
I've been using nooks since the original split-screen device, and own all the nooks and use my nook several times a week. In each new device I see big strides on B&N's part and this new nook HD is no different. I've had some time with my new nook HD and wanted to give you my thoughts.
Packaging. I still remember the original nook shipped in this crazy Apple-like plastic case that was from Mars. It seemed really cool until you tried to get the device out and realized this was a very bad idea! The new nook HD packaging is like most other devices out there, nothing magic feeling - but nothing to get in your way to start using the device.
Display? For me the display is key - it's why I started with eInk devices for reading. For the first time B&N may have an eInk-killer. While the lack of backlight is important, eInk makes a big impression from it's text clarity. The Nook HD display is 1440 x 900 HD resolution and is 243 pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the PPI, the harder it is to see the pixels and distinguish computer fonts from printed paper. The resolution on the nook HD is near that of what Apple calls their "Retina Display" and the nook HD is far ahead of the iPad mini in this regard. The screen is bright, vibrant, and crisp - and the viewing angles are superb. This makes reading a breeze - and why I say it's an eInk killer. I had my family look at the Glow Light and Nook HD (with brightness all the way down) in a darker room and the Nook HD was the clear winner. The background color of a piece of paper is a nice touch and it performs wonderfully in low light (not too bright). To me with the brightness all the way down it almost reminded me of a Kindle paperwhite screen.
Updates? No surprise, the software is totally updated from the nook Tablet/Color series. It now supports multiple users through profiles and the user interface has many of the advantages of Android 4.0. The parental controls give parents some security about sharing the tablet with the kids too. The shop, apps view, library are all updated (but stll recognizable) and I was instantly impressed across the board. The scrapbook feature is pretty nice since it let's you save content and go back to it later. The connector has changed so they can support HDMI output (extra accessory) - I wish it hadn't changed :(
Build Quality & Size? Ok, the size is nearly identical to all the non simple touch devices - I'm still using the original nook 3G case I got and they all fit well. This is the thinest and lightest nook tablet to date, and it's the lightest 7" tablet in it's class. The build quality is ok, but not amazing. I'm a big Apple user and this is nowhere near the quality of an Apple. Little things like the plastic pieces not quite coming together is the little stuff that bugs me (see picture). The buttons and volume are cheap plastic and the SD card slot is hard to open and seems flimsy. On the plus side the back of the device has nice curves and is a very soft nice material to hold.
So... It's clear that Barnes & Noble invested a lot into the hardware and software for the device. If you've used the nook app on the iPad you'll really enjoy this experience so much more. The reader is much nicer and the shop experience is so nice compared to the B&N website. The screen is vibrant and crisp and the performance is really snappy. It's family friendly design and unique look (especially the snow edition) really make the product a stand out in the crowd. Ok, for $199 the NOOK HD is an awesome device and a top-notch reading experience. But is worth the price compared to the competition? At the same price point the Nexus 7 is a complete tablet with a full Android experience (good and bad). Oh, and let's not forget the iPad mini - a bit of a price premium but you get the full iOS experience and a huge media and App Store. In the end if you want a full tablet features with a lot of apps you would still be happier with the Nexus 7 or iPad mini. But for many of us seeking a tablet device mainly for reading, the Nook HD is a top choice. The design is geared for reading and the experience just feels smoother and book-like compared to the Kindle Fire IMHO.
Conclusion? So, if you've invested in B&N content and are looking to get a better night reader than the Nook touch glow light it's time to upgrade! The screen outside isn't dreamy but it kills my iPad. If you are looking for a tablet to do "some" reading on I think you might be better served with an iPad mini or Nexus 7.
- The New Nook HD better than iPad or Kindle?
- The Exciting new Nook Devices... Isn't?
- How to use Netflix on the nook Tablet or nook Color
- mSecure Review for Nook, Mac, and iPhone - More than a Password Manager!
- New Nook Coming!? Selling outside USA? Nook Touch Color?
- Easy Root for nook Tablet 1.4.1?
- Differences between nook color and nook tablet?
- Nook Color update 1.4.1 - Netflix and much more!
- The New Nook Tablet Arrives
- Nook Touch Browser - Cute or Useful?
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