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Developer offers $5K prize for bootable Nook Tablet card

If you're an Android whiz, here's your chance to earn some serious coin. But you'll have to code fast if you want the full $5,000.

N2A Cards LLC

Do you have mad Android hacking skills? Put them to good use and you might just earn $5,000--or more.

N2A Cards LLC, best known for transforming Barnes & Noble Nook Color e-readers into full-blown Android tablets, has thrown down the gauntlet to the development community: first person to create a bootable Android microSD card for the Nook Tablet (the Color's successor) gets $2,500.

And if you do it before midnight on January 22, you get a $2,500 bonus.

Here's a summary of what the contest entails:

N2A Cards LLC will offer a $2,500 reward to the first to run Android 2.3.x or ICS entirely from a microSD card without altering the internal memory of the Nook Tablet. In addition, if the solution is successfully demonstrated no later than midnight (MST) on Sunday, January 22, 2012, there will be an additional $2,500 for a total of $5,000. There will only be one winner in case of multiple successful entries, the time stamp in our forums will be the deciding factor.

Why would the company pony up such a sizable chunk of change for this effort? Turns out the Nook Tablet isn't quite so easy to hack as the Nook Color, and N2A Cards has made a splash (and, no doubt, a profit) selling bootable Android cards for the latter. Thus, it has a vested interest in being able to deliver a similar product for the Tablet.

Like the Nook Color, the Nook Tablet runs a customized, fairly closed version of Android. It's a nice little OS, one capable of running a smattering of apps, but it doesn't exactly tap Android's full potential.

When you pop in an N2A Cards microSD card (or one like it), however, you get a boot menu that gives you a choice between the Nook OS and Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread). This makes no permanent changes to the Nook, yet gives you the full Android experience--including the chance to run virtually any app you want (including, say, the Kindle and Kobo e-book apps). It's pretty sweet; I'm a fan.

So get busy, hackers! By the way, N2A Cards is also accepting donations from interested parties, and the base "reward" amount is now up to $2,640. Assuming you're able to nab the $2,500 deadline bonus, that would bring the total prize up to $5,140!