Thursday, March 10, 2011

Video of a Rooted Nook Color

I got some questions from a few friends about yesterday's post and so I thought before I put my blog back into hibernation for another year I would go ahead and shoot some video of my nook color.

Again, as I state in the video... I didn't do anything new or original here. Just followed some instructions that others have written out. For the technical details, I'm still running the stock nook kernel which, I believe, is Android 2.1.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Of ebooks and such...

My brother recently emailed me asking my opinions on the nook versus the kindle. My wife and I purchased a nook around Thanksgiving this year and so I'm probably not the least biased source around, but I have a lot of thoughts on the topic and I realized that my email to him would make for a pretty good blog post.

We bought our first nook (the original, non-color variety) because:

  1. It was on sale for $99 which made it about $40 cheaper then the kindle and...
  2. The nook supports ePUB files which is an industry standard ebook format and one which is available from public libraries. Yes, you can digitally "check out" books from a library download it and put it on your reader. Here's a site to see if your library system supports digital lending.

Sony's eReaders and the nook both support EPUB files... kindle does not. This has been one of the biggest criticisms of the kindle and amazon has not responded to it. Most people feel that amazon won't ever address this because they want to make their users buy books only from them... and since they are #1 in the ebook market they feel that they can get away with it. nook and Sony have to be more competitive.

Finally, after buying the nook... google launched their own ebook store... and since it uses ePUB... that's right you can buy books from them, download them and read them on the nook. No kindle support (although google indicates they are trying to find a way to support the kindle). If you want to check out google's ebook store you can click here. Notice that the nook is listed on their list of supported devices on the top of the page.

So... if google selling the book for less... we can buy it somewhere else.

Something else to bare in mind with both nook and kindle... if you buys books digitally from B&N and amazon (respectively) their ebook systems allow you to download your books to any devices that's connected to the same account. So my wife and I have one B&N account and we can download the same books to our nook and our android phones (with the nook app). If you are reading a book... the account keeps track of where you are... so if you can put down one device and open the book up in another device and keep reading. While reading on a 4" phone screen isn't as good as the 7" nook screen.... it means if we're stuck waiting in line someplace and we only have our phone on us... we can still read. Pretty nice deal. Sony doesn't appear to have an answer to that.

However, if you buy books outside of B&N and you install them by loading files manually onto the devices... you lose the ability to read on multiple devices (unless you manually load the book onto each device) and the service will not be able to keep track of which page you are on. Those features only worth with books purchased from B&N's online store (or for kindle owner's, amazon's ebookstore). That said, I think these features are great to have, and more than likely if you own a nook (or kindle)... most of your book purchases would probably come from the devices main store so you'll only lose this with the occasionally book bought from google or from ePUB files digitally checked out from the library.

We are so enamored with our nook when B&N ran a promotion last week on the nook color for $200... I jumped on it. Well, that and they are quite hackable into full blown android tablets... and no other android tablet comes close to $200.

Arstechnica even ran a recent article on how to hack the nook color. (One should be warned that this does void your warranty... personally, I think this is worth the risk, but obviously this isn't for everyone). I've only had the nook color for two days (as of this writing) and I spent yesterday hacking mine. I've even already got Angry Birds running on it.

For those curious about hacking a nook color... you do not necessarily lose the the apps that shipped on it (such as the B&N ereader app)... and since it's using the same B&N account that we were using with the older nook... I can pull up the same books on it too. Lastly, Google's android marketplace works very similiar to how both B&N and amazon run their ebook stores. Once you buy an app for android it works on any device that is registered against the same account... so all of the commercial apps I've purchased for my phone can now also be downloaded to the nook color . That being said, not every app will work on the nook color.

For those feeling particularly vengeful against B&N (or those that already have a kindle and a bunch of amazon ebooks)... once you hack the nook color you can actually put the kindle app on it and use it to buy amazon books if you really want to. For me, I'll stick to B&N's book so I can still read them on the old nook too.

So all in all.. I think nook is the way to go. While I really like the nook color, I think, for the price, the extra battery life, and e-ink screen (no color, but really easy on the eyes) it's best start with a plain 'ole nook and then, like I did, you can add a nook color to your account later for reading in the dark, digital magazines, childrens books or maybe even as an android tablet, if you feel so inclined.

That being said I'll offer one caveat with regard to ebooks, in general. Amazon is clearly king of the hill in the ereader market and the iPad is now number two. It's quite possible that Barnes and Noble will eventually get out of this business... and while you could still use it for ePub files... it's not clear what will happened to the DRM content you bought... can you still read those books if B&N's online store goes away? This is a fundamental problem with ebooks (and any DRM content)... so technically it could happen with amazon too, but I'm going to bet that amazon will last longer then B&N.... so the nook is technically riskier because of that... but I think it's still worth the risk.

I'll close with one last, shameless shill. B&N has a referral program and is offering me a discount on any referrals... so for anyone reading this that feels so compelled to run out and buy one... feel free to use my referal link... I can get some ebook credit for it. Thanks.