Hacking or rooting the Barnes & Noble Nook Color has become a commercial venture for some, and that has plenty of Android enthusiasts calling foul.
In recent days, folks on eBay have started selling hacks for the Nook Color preinstalled on microSD cards, which start around $60 for 4GB cards and work their way upward. Installing one of the cards in the Nook Color's microSD slot allows users to override Barnes & Noble's "closed" Android-based Nook firmware with an open Android system that supports running a multitude of Android apps. "Modders" have been "porting" various "rooted" versions of the Android OS to the Nook Color, including a preview version of Honeycomb (Android 3.0), which is designed for tablets. This has made the affordable though slightly underpowered Nook Color ($250) a popular item with Android enthusiasts who don't want to shell out bigger money for true Android tablets like the $799 Motorola Xoom.
Over at the Android Police, Will Shanklin was dismayed at the turn of events. He urged readers not to pay money for a Nook Color SD card that runs Honeycomb.
People have the right to buy or sell whatever they want (subject to their respective locales' laws), but the fact that people are paying this much for a preloaded SD card baffles me. See, the nice thing about the Internet is that there are instructions for things like this that pretty much anyone with a few minutes of time and the ability to read can follow.
Typically, a 4GB microSD card costs less than $10 on Amazon. An 8GB card goes for around $16.
Android Guy, the listed seller of the above item, is marketing his card as superior to competing products on eBay. "This auction provides you with a 8GB microSD cards with a root that will run Android 3.0 Honeycomb with App Market with step-by-step, easy-to-follow, instructions for accessing the Android market," he says. "No other dealer is offering step-by-step instructions for this process."
Others on the Internet are, of course. And more hard-core modders will point out that running a hack off the microSD card is for novices; you get better performance running it from internal memory.
How many people are "rooting" their Nook Colors is unknown, but we suspect that the numbers remain relatively small (as an overall percentage) or Barnes & Noble might try to take more action to combat it. Obviously, Barnes & Noble's intention is to sell a lot of e-books through its e-reader, and that's part of the reason the Nook Color is priced as reasonably as it is.
Any way you look at it, we'd strongly encourage you not to buy one of these cards on eBay. They are, as the Android Police says, a "rip-off."