Nook2Android Turns B&N Reader Into Full-Fledged Tablet

Rumors that Amazon is planning a tablet of its own have sparked concerns over whether or not the company can properly differentiate between Kindle and a tablet without inadvertently cannibalizing or obviating the former--but what if readers didn't have to choose? Thanks the thinking behind the Nook2Tablet software, which allows readers to turn Barnes & Nobles' Nook into an Android device by inserting a microSD card.

The microSD cards are priced at $34.99 (8GB), $49.99 (16 GB), and $89.99 (32GB). The company takes pains to reassure customers that their dollars aren't going towards a software purchase. "When you buy a Nook2Android card you are purchasing the highest quality Sandisk MicroSD card and all the services to get Android and the added features as perfect as you would expect. You are not purchasing the software as it is provided free of charge."

The Nook, running Android 2.3

The company further notes that the 16GB and 32GB cards "are for people who plan to transfer music and video on the Android Tablet from their computer. The larger the card the more space for storage. If you only plan to use it for apps and books then the 8GB is more than enough space."

The cards support dual-boot (meaning users can choose to start either the standard Nook OS or Android). Preinstalled apps include Android Market, Facebook, Words with Friends, Angry Birds, Nook, Kindle, YouTube, Gmail, Pandora, Calculator, Color Note, WiFi Manager, and News & Weather (as well as others). The developers opted to use Gingerbread (Android 2.3) over Honeycomb (3.0), stating that Honeycomb is too buggy for verification and release.

Boot time is less-than stellar, at 5 minutes (first boot) and 2-3 minutes thereafter. The N2A software actually overclocks the 800MHz A8 CPU at the heart of the Nook color, from the base 800MHz speed up to 925MHz, an increase of just over 15 percent. The boost may be more than enough for the purposes of an e-reader, but may still disappoint those looking for a top-tier table, and very well may void the Nook's warranty. The company's website contains no information on how they'll support their product in the event that the CPU OC causes damage. An increase up to 925MHz will also negatively impact battery life.

The FAQ is extremely thorough and contains information on everything from potential bugs to software support to how the app handles already-purchased Nook content. Hulu and Netflix are both supported; the website has further instructions on enabling Netflix to run properly.

The Nook has always been overshadowed by Amazon's Kindle, but this type of project could give the perennial also-ran a few talking points of its own. Users who previously found themselves on the fence regarding what sort of device they wanted could be lucky here, as the N2A app could offer the best both of worlds.