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Nook Color Honeycomb 'beta' hack advances

Industrious Android enthusiasts continue to make progress in porting an early version of Google's Android 3.0 operating system to the Nook Color.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted something on how an industrious Android enthusiast, who goes by the handle deeper-blue on the xdadevelopers' forum, had hacked or "rooted" the Nook Color to run a preview version of Honeycomb. At the time, we were looking at a pretty crude port that was missing a lot of Honeycomb's core features. But since then, some improvements have been made, giving "rooters" hope that the slightly underpowered Nook Color might be able to handle Google's Android 3.0 operating system for tablets without running too sluggishly.

Several videos of "HoneyNook" in action have cropped up in recent days, including the embedded video from Noah at TechnoBuffalo, who credits the newer NookHoney port to deeper-dev. More recently, David Cogen at theunlockr.com put together his own NookHoney demo complete with a background soundtrack. His assessment: "Not bad for a $250 tablet running beta software...it can only get better." (Note: Cogen is running the Honeycomb port from the internal memory, which works better and has the Android Market, but is harder to undo).

In other Nook Color news, after the device recently experienced some shipping delays, it's back in stock at stores just in time for Valentine's Day. Some were concerned Barnes & Noble was on the verge of "locking down" the Nook Color so it couldn't be rooted. But so far, it hasn't. However, it did make a minor design change: the light and proximity sensor that once sat to the left of the Nook logo has been removed.

When we asked Barnes & Noble about this, a company spokesperson informed us: "All Nook Color units provide the exact same performance and offer the same great features and functions. Barnes & Noble made a slight change in manufacturing to remove that tiny circular window when an originally planned element was not required for the final hardware."

We don't know whether this change was at the root of that momentary shipping delay, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was.