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nexusae0_cmthumb1I’d been meaning to wipe my Nook HD and install Cyanogen Mod 11 for some time now, but the process intimidated me. Then Chris went and created a user friendly guide. A little more than a week ago, I got up the nerve to give it a try. It worked (after a couple of heart-in-the-throat moments), and I thought I’d write up my impressions, both of the process and the results.

Let me start by saying if you aren’t comfortable messing with technology, you probably shouldn’t try this without help. I am fairly tech-savvy, and I had a few bad moments. I got it to work, but I’m not sure why it did work or what I did to cause the few problems I had. As I said to my husband later, “I think it was pretty much luck.”

What do I think went wrong? I’m not sure why, but I got an error message when doing the backup to card. It didn’t finish, and then I couldn’t figure out how to back out and start over. In trying to back out, I think I accidentally wiped something, and the Nook no longer booted into stock.

Then when I installed all the files and booted into Cyanogen Mod for the first time, it hung. I did a hard reset (I think), re-copied the files and tried again. That time it worked.

See what I mean by not trying this if you’re not sure what you’re doing?

Anyway, after those few bad moments, it worked, and I’ve been using it for about a week now. I’ve been using it as my main device to give it a good workout, and so far the results have been positive. I’ve had a few crashes and glitches, both minor and major, but nothing unrecoverable. I installed the M8 release, which is the most recent milestone, and while it’s pretty stable, I remind myself that there’s a reason it’s still under development.

Okay, all that said, how’s it work? Quite well. It’s handled everything I’ve thrown at it so far. Operation is much smoother than under N2A, and it’s even generally more responsive than under the stock operating system. Interestingly, it boots up faster than my old Nexus 7 did after I updated it to KitKat. Sometimes, I have to wait a few seconds for the screen to refresh when going back to Home, but it’s livable.

The battery life has been good. One of the things I always liked about the Nook software was that it handled standby mode well. I would lose just a couple of percentage points over night. The flashed version isn’t quite as good, but it’s much better than the N2A option, which lost a couple of percentage points an hour. I’ve been able to comfortably go all day on a charge and occasionally two days.

One huge surprise. My biggest Android gripe had been screen rotation. Even my old Nexus 7 was sluggish. After several devices, I decided it was an Android thing. Now I know it’s not. My flashed Nook rotates almost as smoothly as my iPad. It was so bad on previous devices that I routinely locked them into portrait. No locking now!

One particularly happy discovery was a Calculator widget. It fell into the category of “that incredibly useful thing I didn’t even know I needed until I had it.” I have subsequently learned that the CyanogenMod calculator is in the Play Store, and the widget is part of that app. Now I know, for when I get my next Android device.

CyanogenMod on Nook

A few oddities. Sometimes notes take forever to load in Evernote. I’m not sure why. Downloading files over WiFi seems to take longer than it should. (It took almost 10 minutes to download a book to the Kindle app. Yes, it was a big book, but still…) I can’t get it to tether to my iPhone at all, which could be frustrating while travelling. I’ve posted a question to the CyanogenMod boards, and hopefully it’s something simple.

So, should you do it? If you’re comfortable with experimentation, I’d say yes. New Nook HDs are becoming hard to find with the Nook-branded Samsung tablets about to launch. However, if you have one or can get your hands on one, based on specs, you’ll have a device that is almost as good in many respects and with a better screen than the upcoming Samsung version. One of the reasons I sold my Nexus 7 (2012) is that I noticed the difference in the screen. Reading on the Nook was more enjoyable.

If you’re not comfortable with modding your tech and you don’t have access to someone who is, think hard about it. It works, but it can be tricky.

After using both the flashed version and the N2A, however, I can’t recommend N2A anymore. It’s too unstable and slow. I’d recommend keeping your Nook on stock instead of using an N2A card.

Has anyone else tried it. Want to share your impressions?

 
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