The Easy Way to Turn Your Nook Color Into an Android Tablet

I'm a big believe in simplicity. (The column isn't called Hassle-Full PC, after all.) So when given the option between something simple and something complex, you can bet I'll choose the former every time--even if it means spending a few bucks.

For example, not long ago I bought the , a 7-inch e-reader that beat the upcoming to market by a full year. Although it was pretty slick right out of the box, I wanted to test its acumen as a full-blown Anroid tablet.

This is possible thanks to a process called "rooting," which effectively means breaking into the operating system so you can mess around with it--or replace it. I did some research, and although rooting didn't seem that complicated, I did find it a little intimidating. The last thing I wanted to do was "brick" my Nook, to render it non-functional owing to some glitch or screw-up.

Thankfully, I found an easy alternative. A couple enterprising developers have created special microSD cards especially for the Nook Color, cards that would allow you to dual-boot the Nook OS and a specialized version of Android. In other words, you just pop one of these cards into the Nook's microSD slot, and presto: instant Android.

The real beauty of this is that it's a semi-permanent solution. If you don't want the Android environment any longer, just turn off the Nook, pop out the card, and reboot. Presto: You're back to the Nook OS. (Actually, you don't even have to take the card out, as you can choose the OS you want from a boot menu.) That means you're not voiding your warranty, unlike when you root the Nook.

I've tested a couple of these Nook Color cards, and they're both fantastic. The first, , supplies CyanogenMod, a very popular Android ROM stocked with lots of great apps, including Amazon Kindle (so you're not locked into reading Barnes & Noble e-books), Angry Birds, and Words with Friends. Of course, you can always fire up Android Market and install more.