Step into my apartment, and you’ll come across a plethora of hacked-up devices. Part of this is because I’m a broke-ass nerd, so I want nifty techno goodies but can’t afford the latest and greatest. The other part is that I love making devices do things they were never intended to do. My Nook Color is no exception. After a lot of research online and a bit of trial and error, I now have a fully-functional, inexpensive Android tablet computer. If you follow my guide below, you can too. The best part is the original Nook software remains intact, so you keep all the intended functionality (like Read To Me books) and you can easily switch back and forth between your stock Nook software and the Android-based MIUI interface. Get ready to take your Nook Color to the next level!
 

Step 1: Gather Tools

The first step in unlocking the Nook Color’s full potential is to gather these physical and digital items:

  • A Nook Color (duh!)
  • A class 4 or better microSDHC card (I prefer Sandisk cards, as they seem to be the most reliable. If you follow the steps below correctly and find your Android experience isn’t up to snuff, check your SD card. If it’s not Sandisk, that’s the likely culprit. Also, get a SD card with as much storage as you can afford. Trust me. The Nook Color is designed to accept up to a 32 GB card.)
  • PC with an SD card reader or a USB SD card reader attachment running Windows.
  • Image Writer for Windows (a/k/a Win32 Disk Imager. Be sure you download the binary file, not the source, unless you want to compile the program yourself.) https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer
  • Most recent MIUI.us ROM (I enjoy this ROM more than any other I’ve tried. It’s updated frequently, has great battery life, and few bugs. Of course, you’re fee to try others if you like, but I won’t tell you how to get them running in this guide. Make sure you select the Nook Color download, as this ROM is available for many devices, like my Nexus One.) http://roms.miui.us/
  • SD Card Image http://crimea.edu/~green/nook/generic-sdcard-v.1.3.img.gz
  • 7zip (To extract the .gz file above.) http://www.7-zip.org/
  • Dual Boot u-boot (Technically optional, but so easy and useful I’m including it in the standard steps.) http://forum.xda-developers.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=510096&d=1296952217
  • MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition http://www.partitionwizard.com/free-partition-manager.html

 

Step 2: Prep Work

  1. Charge your Nook Color fully. It’s just easier. Again, trust me.
  2. (If you have a new Nook.) Power the Nook up (without inserting your SD card), connect to your wireless network, and register the device with Barnes & Noble. Leave the Nook Color running while you complete the rest of the process, so it can download any software updates available.
  3. Install 7zip.
  4. Create a working folder on your Windows desktop. This will help keep you organized. Name the folder something like “Nook” or “Temp.”
  5. Copy the MIUI ROM you downloaded earlier to your temp folder. DO NOT UNZIP IT!
  6. Rename the file update-cm-miui.zip
  7. Copy the Dual Boot u-boot file you downloaded to the temp folder.
  8. Use 7zip to extract the SD card image you downloaded to the temp folder. You should end up with a file named generic-sdcard.img

 

Step 3: Getting Your Hands Dirty

  1. Insert your microSDHC card into your card reader.
  2. Launch Image Writer for Windows.
  3. Be sure your SD card, and not some other removable device, is selected to write to in Image Writer, then click the folder icon to select the generic-sdcard.img file from your temp folder.
  4. Click Write, then Yes.
  5. Exit Image Writer once the file has been written to the SD card and remove the card from your reader.
  6. Reinsert the SD card.
  7. Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, and resize the boot partition on your SD card. This is the only space your stock Nook Color software will recognize on the SD card. Make sure you have at least 300 MB free to allow space for the installer to extract the contents of the various zip files involved in this installation process. These files will be removed from the SD card automatically once the setup process is finished.
  8. Copy the update-cm-miui.zip file to the SD card. DO NOT EXTRACT THE ZIP FILE’S CONTENTS! Copy the complete file to the card.
  9. Eject the SD card from your computer.
  10. Power down your Nook Color.
  11. Carefully insert the microSDHC card in your Nook Color’s SD card slot.
  12. Power up your Nook Color.
  13. You will see the Linux penguin in the corner of your screen and lots of text flying past. Be patient as the magic is worked.
  14. Once the install is complete, your Nook Color will power down automatically.
  15. Remove the SD card from the Nook and reinsert it into your computer.
  16. On the SD card, rename the uboot.bin file to uboot.bak. (This preserves your original SD card boot file in case you run in to trouble and need to restore it.)
  17. Copy the uboot.bin file from your temp folder to the SD card and copy the uboot.bak file from your SD card to a safe location on your computer.
  18. Eject the SD card from your computer and reinstall it in the Nook Color’s SD card slot.
  19. Power up your Nook Color.
  20. Be patient. The first boot always takes a while.
  21. Follow the on-screen instructions for creating (or connecting to your existing) Google account.
  22. Enjoy the full-featured, inexpensive Android tablet goodness.

 
And there you have it: an inexpensive Android tablet with root access and GApps in less than 30 minutes. Of course, this is just a basic set up. The preconfigured SD cards I sell on eBay have premium software enhancements, built-in overclocking, and more. Get your hands on one here: http://myworld.ebay.com/vaygh If you’re looking for an SD install with custom features or running a ROM other than MIUI, drop me a line at vaygh (at) vaygh (dot) com. I’ll be happy to work with you on a Nook Color SD install that meets your individual needs.

Many thanks to the Nook Color community, XDA, and MIUI devs – specifically andmer, dalingrin, and rookie1 – for making all of this possible. Support them financially if you are able, or with mad props if you’re not. Oh, and Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Yule, etc. etc.