Wish you had full Android on your Nook HD?
Editor’s Note: rooting the Nook HD and HD+ may no longer be necessary. Click here for details.
On Paper, the Nook HD+ from Barnes & Noble looks like a pretty good value. The tablet comes in two configurations — $269 will get you a tablet with 16 gigabytes of storage while $299 will net you a 32 GB tablet.
That’s pretty inexpensive when it comes to a large tablet, and the Nook HD+ is certainly one of those — it has a bright 9″ screen that is actually quite light, weighing in at 18 ounces. The tablet comes equipped with a dual core CPU running at 1.5 GHz and the screen resolution is 1920×1280 at 257 ppi (pixels per inch). Furthermore, the Nook HD+ comes with an SD card slot, allowing for up to 64 GB of additional storage. Bear in mind that you need a micro SD card for that slot. About the only thing missing from the Nook HD+ is a camera, but how many people out there can deal with photography well enough on their smartphones?
For the record, I’ve owned a 32 GB Nook HD+ since December and opted for a 32 GB SD card that works just fine. I went for the 32 GB card for a couple of reasons. First of all, a 32 GB card is fairly cheap — I paid $20 for mine while a good 64 GB one costs around $50. Also, some Nook owners have raised concerns on the Nook forums hosted by Barnes & Noble about how well the 64 GB card works.
To further entice people out shopping for inexpensive tablets, Barnes & Noble is currently throwing in a $50 gift card so users can spend some cash on apps, books, magazines and movies through the company’s Nook store. That store is the Nook’s Achille’s heel. While there is no shortage of books available for the Nook and the selection of movies is growing, the number of apps available through the Barnes & Noble store is tiny compared to what’s available to full Android users through the Google Play store.
Here’s the thing about the Nook — is runs Android 4.0.3, but it is a heavily customized version that strives to trap users in the Barnes & Noble store. A stock Nook HD+ simply won’t allow users to access Google Play or install applications from any source outsides Barnes & Noble. Now, chaining people to one store has worked very well for Apple, but there is a major difference. Almost all of the apps available for iOS devices can be downloaded through Apple’s app store, but the Barnes & Noble store offers a mere fraction of what is available to “regular” Android users.
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to “root” the Nook HD+ so as to enable access to Google Play. Before getting too far down that road, I should probably mention that rooting your Nook HD+ (or any Nook tablet for that matter) isn’t completely risk free. While my root worked very well, bear in mind that you’re fooling around with the guts of your operating system when you root a tablet and something could go wrong.
If you want to try rooting your Nook HD+ tablet so you can get access to Google Play, you’ll need a blank mini SD card and some free software. You’ll find a forum that gives step-by-step instructions on that process by following this link and heading to the XDA Developers forum. The best thing about that process is that you simply download the files, make a bootable mini SD card, load it onto your system and you’re done. You can even format the micro SD card and use it for something else when you’re done. You can either switch between the Nook’s native operating system and full Android, so you don’t have to give up the many good things about the stock OS in order to expand your tablet.
In other words, the Nook HD+ has some great hardware that really shines when the tablet gets along with Google Play. The appeal of the HD+ is limited without Google Play, but it becomes a true bargain when it’s rooted and has the primary Android app store installed and running.
The whole process took me about 30 minutes and has essentially pulled the limits off my Nook. I now have a fully functional Android table that cost me around $300. That’s not a bad deal at all.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.