Ravaging the Nook: a Teardown, a Spec List and Android Hacks

Illustration for article titled Ravaging the Nook: a Teardown, a Spec List and Android Hacks

Let's face it, nobody was too upset by the opaqueness of the Nook's spec sheet—screens and software, not board-level componentry, are what make ereaders great. But with this teardown comes something glorious: the Nook's Android software has been hacked.


And not hacked like "oh, cool, now we can change the system font" hacked, or "sweet bro, now we can watch the Linux boot sequence" hacked. I'm talking about splayed-open, ready for custom apps, probably-gonna-get-Barnes & Noble-and-AT&T-kind-of-upset hacked. In other words, it's been rooted, like so many Android phones, which means that core OS changes, hacks, and almost certainly apps are all in the cards. Here's the software breakdown, according to Nookdevs:

[The Nook] appears to be running a generic Android image with B&N customization on top to hide the Android underpinnings:


• Android 1.5 Cupcake
• Built Tue Dec 1 14:50:20 CST 2009
• turboboot bootloader
• asound
• pvplayer

So what we've essentially got here is a full-fledged Android device, with two screens, a few gigabytes of removable storage and a SIM card with a data connection. The rooting process isn't exactly easy—it involves a screwdriver, a knife, and an Linux computer, if that tells you anything—but the hacking prospects here are massive. AT&T, whose free, unlimited, ebook-only data connection is the Nook's gateway to the internet, can't be too happy about this. That, or they've got some kind of provision for blocking non-ebook data transfer, which the new class of Nook hackers will spend the rest of their devices' lifespans actively trying to circumvent. This should be fun.

And for anyone dying to fill the gaps in the Nook's spec sheet, well, here you go:

• Samsung S3C6410 Processor
• Synaptics TM1369 Touchscreen controller
• Internal 2GB Sandisk microSD card for internal storage
• 3 Partitions
• sdb1: system: ext3 250MB
• sdb2: update possibly?: ext3 150MB
• sdb3: internal memory: ext3 1309MB
• Sierra Wireless MC8777V wireless modem in data only mode




What ever they do, I hope it improves the horrible lag and unresponsiveness of the nook that I observed in a BN store this weekend. The e-ink seemed fast compared to the lower screen interface. I was a little embarrassed for the person staffing the kiosk. Other than that, the device felt good in the hand, solid and a nice size.