$150 Android Tablet

I like gadgets. And every so often I become entranced by some new gizmo and want it, badly.

Fortunately, for my bank account and my wife's commitment to our marriage vows, I'm the opposite of a spend-thrift (such a strange term, wouldn't spend and thrift cancel each other out leaving the meaning to be neither?). OK, I'm cheap.

So the result is: I find low-cost ways to get gadgets.

I've already documented my bargain bike lights.

This post describes how I ended up with this nice Android tablet for $150.

What you see is a hacked Nook Color ebook reader. (Not to be confused with the newer, more expensive Nook Tablet which looks similar, just a slightly lighter color, but can't be converted to an Android Tablet, yet.) The stock Nook Color runs Android but is overlaid with an ebook reader interface developed by Barnes and Noble. It has a high resolution 7" touch screen, a decent processor, good battery life and is fairly light weight. I bought a refurbished unit from Overstock.com for $150 (looks like they're out now).

First I rooted it (gained root access to the operating system) and installed CyanogenMod 7 (CM7, a tweaked version of Android 2.3) on the internal memory.

This worked until I did something wrong and it wouldn't boot. I decided I'd rather leave the Nook stock and run CM7 off a microSD card so I could revert it back to an ebook reader by simply removing the microSD card.

Several forum posts warned that a quality microSD card is important. The red-packaged SanDisk 8 or 16 GB cards I bought at Walmart worked for me.

I followed these instructions, then later replaced the plain CM7 with this enhanced MiRaGe Kang build. (I learned a new word: Kang - Taking another's work, sometimes modifying it, and claiming it as your own.)

This hacked tablet runs every app I've tried so far (here's a community created list). It's handy to have such a portable computer. We browse the web, check email, Facebook, play games, watch movies, etc. Jolene and I have been reading the Fat Cyclist book using the Android Kindle app (an odd twist, but it works perfectly).

It was a fun project at a bargain price. It's turned out to be popular with the whole family. And it sated my gadget lust, for now.

Update: You can buy a refurbished Nook Color for $149 on Barnes & Noble's eBay store.

1 comment:

DJ said...

I don't comment very often but I want you to know that I always read your blog. I'm sure you will have a great 2012.