Review: N2A Cards for Nook Tablet – Run CM7 with No Technical Work (Video)

N2A Nook Tablet

N2A Cards for the Nook Tablet are the easiest way to turn the Nook into a full-fledged Android tablet. No hacking, no rooting, no technical work is required—that’s the whole point.

All you have to do is power off your Nook Tablet and then insert the N2A card into the memory card slot on the back. Turn it on and the N2A card automatically bypasses the Nook’s stock operating system and boots a completely different operating system that runs entirely off of the N2A memory card.

For this review I was given the Nook Tablet N2A card that is based off of CyanogenMod 7 for a custom version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It is pretty much the same setup as the N2A card for the Nook Color that I reviewed last August.

N2A cards based off of CM9 for Android 4.0 may come along later this year, provided development continues to advance. I’ve written about how to install CM9 on the Nook Tablet’s internal memory in the past, but it’s not as stable as CM7 yet. Video doesn’t work. Neither does the microphone, or hardware acceleration. And there are plenty of bugs.

The N2A cards are basically the same as homemade CM7 cards but come with everything already setup and ready to go, including having the memory card partitioned and having a bunch of apps pre-installed, including the Google Play store for the widest selection of Android apps on the planet.

That is one of the main advantages to using an N2A card: having access to a lot more apps. Barnes and Noble’s Nook appstore has about 4,000 apps and the Google Play appstore has over 400,000. You can install whatever apps you want instead of just what B&N allows. This makes the Nook just as versatile as any other Android tablet with similar hardware and specs, and it means you can use competitor’s reading apps too, like the Kindle and Kobo apps.

Another thing with apps is that B&N’s apps are locked into the Nook platform so if you ever buy a different brand tablet you can’t use your purchased Nook apps on it. When you buy apps from Google and other appstores you can use them on a multitude of devices, including future devices.

The coolest part of using an N2A card is that you don’t lose the Nook’s regular functionality in the slightest. You can always remove the N2A card or select to reboot into the regular Nook Tablet’s operating system. Another option is to use the Nook for Android app to read your Nook books. It doesn’t have quite as many features as the stock OS but is still a nice app.

Another main advantage with N2A cards over the stock operating system is that CM7 is highly customizable. You have a lot more freedom over everything. There are live wallpapers, widgets, folders, and different homescreen launchers and themes and styles to apply. The options are endless.

When it comes to the disadvantages of using an N2A card, there really aren’t any I can think of. It doesn’t change the Nook’s software or hardware in any way so it doesn’t void the warranty. The one thing is that maybe battery life isn’t quite as good when running CM7 instead of the Nook’s stock OS. Battery life is always hard to gauge because there are so many variables but it does seem to be a little less with CM7. From my tests it’s more in the 8 hour range with CM7 than 10 hours with stock.

Who Should Buy an N2A Card?

N2A cards are the easiest way to unlock the Nook Tablet’s true Android functionality, and since they are designed for non-tech people and come with access to the N2A forums and help center anyone can use them. N2A cards come in three different sizes, and they all sell from Amazon.com. The cheapest is an 8GB card that sells for $34.99, the 16GB cards is $49.99, and the 32GB card is $79.99.

But buying an N2A card doesn’t make sense for everyone. If you are the technically inclined sort that isn’t afraid of some research and trial and error, you can make your own CM7 card if you have a microSD card on hand and a microSD card reader to plug it into your computer. You’ll need software to write the CM7 image onto the memory card and some partitioning software to setup the memory card properly.

Another option, if you don’t care about retaining your Nook Tablet’s warranty and stock operating system, you can root your Nook Tablet and then install CM7 on the internal memory.

The latter two options aren’t extremely complicated by any means, but do require more technical work than simply sticking an N2A card in the back and powering the Nook Tablet on.

Nook Tablet N2A Cards Video Review

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26 Responses to “Review: N2A Cards for Nook Tablet – Run CM7 with No Technical Work (Video)”

  1. I just purchased my 16gb NTA Card for my Nook Tablet. I’ll be posting later after I get it. I can’t wait! Thanks Nathan for your research and video. It looks simple and I don’t have to root my tablet now.

  2. It seems to me that if competing tablets in the same price range were as good as the Nook, then modifying a Nook wouldn’t be necessary. We’d just buy another brand of tablet, install a Nook app, and be done with it. But we want the Nook hardware quality without the Nook restrictions, so we jump through hoops to make the Nook to our liking. What a strange world we live in.

  3. @Jim T. – great point.

  4. Nook for Android also offers cards for both Nook Color & Nook Tablet, with options for buying: order the finished card, send them your blank card, or download the program. Also 3 different programs for Nook Color. They are up front about their source(XDA).
    http://www.androidfornook.com/index.html

  5. Thats Android for Nook. Sorry.

  6. Is there a major difference between the N2A card and the card offered by Android For Nook other than the price diffenece? Does one outperform the other? Is one more “userfriendly”?

  7. Jim T.
    What ‘hoops’?

  8. Great write up and great video.

    I have never used Android for nook but I have used N2A Cards ( http://n2acards.com ) For both my nook color and nook tablet and I love them. I have also built my own card for my nook color but still prefer my N2A Card.

  9. As promised I’m posting again after I got my 16gb N2A card. You are right. It’s that simple. I simply inserted the card and now my tablet is functioning with full access to all Apps out there. My one question is can you side load movies, documents, etc on the N2A card? I was afraid to do so in fear of messing something up. Can you help?

    Thanks again for all the work you have done to keep us owners informed.

    • The N2A website has a bunch of tutorials for that type of stuff. Basically you plug your Nook into your computer with the USB and open the notifications menu and tap the USB connected icon to enter data transfer mode.

  10. Question . . nook tablet guide says i must have 32 g micro sd card for uploading my pictures. Would i have to buy a 32 g n2a card.?

  11. I flashed cm7into my nt 16gb and I cant sync my account… I tried sideloading the market and gmail please help???

  12. We are now in june 2012. I am confused. If I buy a new Nook NT, is it still possible to modify it or B&N made it impossible ?

  13. Is it still possible to use N2A cards? Or B&N blocked it?

  14. so im not trying to be repetitive but just to make it absolutely clear if i buy a nook TABLET not the color and i buy a n2a card it will still work? i’ve been shopping around for a reasonably priced e-reader for awhile and one thing i don’t like about the nook tablet is that it’s so closed off and i had read that the nook tablet has a locked bootloader that basically renders the card useless and i dont want to waste 50 dollars on a card and 250 on the nook tablet. imho if the kindle fire had an sd card slot i’d just go with that but i dont have access to wifi all the time so that makes the extra 5g on the cloud pretty useless for me. i want a universal ereader that can read both my nook and kindle books and has extendable memory but i wasn’t looking for an all out tablet.

    • What do you think I faked this whole video and review or something? Of course it works. Developers found a way to bypass the locked bootloader. If I were you I would hold off another week on buying anything. Rumor is the Google Nexus tablet is going get unveiled next week, and it has a good chance of blowing every other 7″ tablet out of the water.

  15. thank you for responding and no i didnt think you faked anything i just didn’t know if you had found a way around the locked boot loader and that it still worked because this is from april and it’s now june. wasn’t sure if b&n had blocked that way again. but i do think your right ill hold off a little longer and see what googles tablet has to offer before making a final decision. thank you for your time.

  16. Android from N2A will not load after it started the first time and i put a bunch of apps and info on it. Now only nook loads up. I tried to turn the nook off and restart again several times but android will not start. Nook shows that sd card is installed but android will not boot. I took the card out and restarted nook several times but nook will not bypass and load android. Please help.

  17. I tried again. By turning nook off, restarting it again, connecting it to a power source, inserting the card again. Nothing works. nook will not let N2A load. Anyone there to help?

  18. Shireen

    I found that I needed to remove the n2a card, start nook, shut it down.

    Insert n2a card, plug in power cord and start up. it should go to n2a.

    If you want to use as an android only and not have to use the power cord start, I found that I had to unregister the Nook, start once with the n2a card via powercord, and now use it the same as a cell phone: i.e., never power off, recharge when low or warning is displayed.

  19. Shireen

    p.s.

    when I left the nook registered and in n2a mode using radio player an hour or so, it “reverted” to nook. I believe it was bn.com auto update taking advantage of my wireless connection.

    I haven’t tried my bn.com account in the n2a mode to see about a download of book, game, or ap as I fear it’ll register itself. . . Suppose I could try sometime, just haven’t gotten around to it. Got the n2a card last week of May and no problems after did above.

    Have transferred video and .jpgs to n2a and no problems: the (nook) screen tells you when you plug to computer and button to touch for access/transfer files. also warns you to “eject” from computer: after transferring files, I eject both drives labeled “nook” and “drive E” on my xp computer, then check onscreen display of nook/n2a to see that it says “connect via usb” which means it is disconnected (dumb way to phrase it, but …. lol)

    Basically, n2a is huge android phone with all the plus/minus features of cell phone but with good storage, iPad style aps, and beautiful display for videos & pics.

  20. The author claims that he/she can’t think of any disadvantages to using the n2a card.

    I’m surprised he/she didn’t mention that any changes by B&N to the firmware/operating system may render the card useless and that the buyer won’t be able to get a refund as stated in the user agreement.

    It might be worth the risk, but still, B&N could update the firmware at any time.

    • N2A cards and other ROMs run entirely independent of B&N’s software so there isn’t anything they can do to screw it up. Once they figured out how to bypass the locked bootloader that was it.

      • Are you saying that there is no way that B&N could rewrite their firmware in a way that would make the N2A card that I currently use and love obsolete?

        I love my n2a card, but I think it is irresponsible to suggest otherwise. Especially when, during the ordering process, you sign an agreement that you understand this to be true.