Turn your Nook Color or Nook Tablet into an Android 4.1 tablet

Just pop in a special microSD card or download the OS to your own card and you can transform your Nook into a full-blown Android tablet.

N2A Cards

Do you own a Barnes & Noble Nook Color or Nook Tablet ? If so, perhaps you've wished for a way to stretch beyond Barnes & Noble's custom OS to enjoy a more traditional tablet experience -- and run whatever apps you want to run, not just those curated by B&N.

N2A Cards has long offered such a way: a bootable microSD card that transforms the Nook into a real Android tablet, complete with the Google Play store and everything.

Originally, that option limited you to Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, but N2A Cards now offers a bootable Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) card for both the Nook Color and the Nook Tablet. Even better, you can download an image file to create your own bootable card, an option that should save you money -- and possibly some time, as well.

For example, it costs $29.99 for an 8GB N2A Card, $39.99 for the 16GB version, $64.99 for the 32GB version, and $84.99 for the 64GB card.

But the N2A Card download costs only $19.99. Then all you need is a compatible microSD card of your own, which can usually be had for much less. (Note: According to the developer, PNY and Kingston cards are not compatible. You'll need an A-Data Class 10, SanDisk Class 4/10, or Transcend Class 10 card.) Thus, if you don't mind the extra step of imaging your card, you stand to save some cash. And you won't have to wait for your N2A Card to be delivered; you can get up and running in an hour or so.

I just test-drove the download option on a SanDisk 8GB card. Although the setup instructions recommend using your Nook as the card reader, I popped mine into an SD adapter and plugged it directly into my PC's SD slot. The N2A Cards installer worked just fine with that configuration.

After maybe 30 minutes, it finished writing the image to the card. I then inserted it into my Nook Tablet, powered up (while holding down the "N" button), and waited a few minutes for the initial setup to complete. When it did, presto: my Nook was now running Android 4.1, with nearly all the bells and whistles therein.

I'm sure many readers will point out (rightly so) that you can accomplish much the same thing on your own for free. But that takes some know-how, and there's little support to be had if things go wrong. Here you're getting a bootable card (which you can remove if you want to return to the Nook OS, no harm done) that's already configured with the popular CyanogenMod version of Android. It's literally a plug-and-play solution.

Whether you buy one of the preconfigured cards or create one yourself using the download option, I think you'll really like running Jelly Bean on your Nook. Minus a few hardware bells and whistles, it's the equivalent of having a Google Nexus 7.

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