Monday November 20 , 2017

Hacking the nook - does it Matter?

Updated 12/22/09 based on latest firmware changes and rooting news

What's this "rooting" the nook all about? Rooting is the process by which you can take control of a machine and get complete system rights as the "root" or super user. "root" is the name of the super user in the Unix/Linux-based operating systems (like the Google Android that runs the nook).


Nookdevs did a good job of documenting the process. You can check out the steps involved, I wouldn't advise trying this! Unless you are a computer geek you won't be able to do anything useful anyway.

Read More on "Rooting the nook" at

Before you dismiss the crude mode of taking control of your nook consider that this is how the iPhone unlocking/jailbraking started! Knowing how the device works, and how to override the system code that B&N put on it, is the first step to having a nook that can run other applications on it (think Google Reader or a Web Browser).

Realistically apps may need to be modified to use e-Ink and color screens differently. Current applications like the browser and Pandora draw across the entire two screens, but only the bottom one is a touch screen. Controlling many of these apps requires connecting to your PC and using remote control software so you can use your mouse as an input device.

Should I root my nook?

Most end users will screw up their nook or complete the rooting and not be able to do anything new or interesting. The best bet is to wait for the nookdev folks to get some good apps working well with the color screen for navigation. Even then you may want to wait for a new way to root the nook. The current method requires taking apart the nook. I'm hopeful at some point there will be a software solution to rooting the nook like the iPhone jailbreaking. Once there are some apps and a software rooting process end-users may want to consider trying it. For now I'd recommend you spend your time enjoying a new eBook on your nook!

The Opportunity

So the question to B&N is, "are you going to make this a stable platform for it's primary purpose?" I think they answer is "YES" they will (it's in their financial interest). The next question is, "are you ready to support the nook as a platform for more than reading eBooks?" Based on recent interviews B&N has given I think the answer to this is also "YES".  So why does rooting the nook matter? The reason it matters is it will keep the pressure on B&N to open up the platform. We now know a lot more about the platform and the hardware it uses. In addition, this will also gives developers a head start on developing programs in Java using the Android software development kit (SDK) with the nook (the part I'm interested in personally).

Keep an eye out here, we'll let you know when the nook hacks are ready for you as the end-user.  Hopefully B&N will beat the hacking community to it by providing a stable eReader platform that's open to applications (not holding breath).


Nook, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

This has been the week of reviews! The week started with several mostly pretty positive reviews. Later in the week we heard some bad user reviews online from customers who received their nook. Now there are a few notable negative online reviews.

The Critics

Here are a few of the really critical reviews:

User Issues

In addition some users on Twitter have highlighted some issues, here are a few example tweets.

@pcellino : I don't know where the trouble lies. System charged me with no problem would not send to the device. Overall the device is in beta.
@geektonic I had my Nook lock up once last night as well. Had to hold down on the power button for a long time and it "rebooted".
@iAinsley #nook, connecting to wireless network seems to be a problem. "Network Unavailable".

Several users over in the B&N eBook support forums received nooks that were DOA or became completely broken almost immediately.

Kindle or nook?

So if you haven't decided yet on the million dollar question - Nook or Kindle - it's understandable why you haven't. I think it's clear B&N shipped the nook before it was fully-baked and there are some software issues. I don't view this as a show-stopper unless you think B&N is going to disappear or you can't deal with several weeks less than optimal usage while the upgrade the device and improve the online store.


Some of the issues may not be as bad as you think. One example is the page turning "lag" compared to the Kindle isn't that dramatic. Check out this video - but the best advice is to go to a store and play with one!


The Reviews are in!

My First Take

The nook is widely available today to tryout in B&N stores. A mall Apple employee and myself cornered the employee holding the nook and got a chance to play with it. My impression was the feel of the device, the buttons, screen were all outstanding. The device response overall was sluggish, like my 3G iPhone after the 3.0 version of the OS came out. The navigation UI tends to lag more than you would expect and the loading of books seems slow - "Formatting book" message while loading.

I admired the "iPhone-ish" menu system in the navigation screen, and I think people will enjoy the touch screen. It stays out of the way once you start reading. Having a single button to turn it on appeals to the Apple crowd (and me).

Some of the Top Reviews

1Technologizer Review

2Gizmodo Review

3Engadget Review

CNET video

Slashgear Video Review


Less than wowed? Just remember, the Kindle had a lot of issues at first. They have rushed this out the door (well ... sort of going out the door) and it's somewhat expected.

I think the feeling is it's not a Kindle-killer yet but it's not far off. Version 1.1 of the software stack could change everything... or nothing!


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