Category Archives: gadgets

New 3DS

Yes, CNET, Mario can protect Nintendo from mobile

New 3DSA January 15th CNET blog post by Nick Statt asks the question: How many people really need a specialized handheld game system in the age of ubiquitous smartphones?

My answer? Any mobile gamer that isn’t solely a casual gamer.

Smartphones are great. They make it easier than ever to stay connected to whatever it is you love. Sports scores on the run? Check. Face time with the family when you’re away on business? Check. Phone call with your friend to hear the latest misadventures of the unintentional innuendo guy at work. Check.

See? Great stuff.

Ask anyone who has a smartphone, and uses it as such, how they feel about their battery life. I’m a pretty regular to moderately light user of my phone and by the end of the day my phone battery is in the single digits.

Take note of your smartphone battery and then play Subway Surfers or something for twenty minutes. Did you see a double-digit drop in battery life? Games require a lot of screen-on time and a lot of touch interface. Those things come at a cost to the battery. If your phone keep tabs on the battery, and what’s using it, you may find screen time to be right up there in terms of what’s using that battery life up. This is probably truer the larger your phone screen is too.

It may be no big deal for your Nintendo 3DS to die before the end of the night, but I’d wager you’d be significantly more put out if your phone / messaging / gaming device / camera / GPS / touch-to-pay wallet died.

So yeah. Your smartphone is perfect for an occasionally game of Bubble Witch Saga or Trivia Crack. How is it going to respond to a longer session of Final Fantasy VI? That game was developed for the Super Nintendo. It’s a RPG, which are well known for requiring lots of time and lots of level grinding. This isn’t a casual, ‘pick up and play’ game. It’s a ‘hunker down’ game. It’s a ‘let’s dedicate some time’ game. Your smartphone isn’t the ideal platform for that type of game, and battery life is probably one of the most significant reasons why.

Your casual gamers are probably going to be fine on their smartphones, but were casual gamers ever picking up Nintendo handhelds for the express purpose of playing a game for 5 minutes and putting it away? Maybe. Maybe I just don’t know that type. It’s possible.

I’d argue though that those of us who want lengthier play times, more substantial games and to still be able to receive a call or text message are going to want to hang on to our Nintendo DS’s.

Image of PS Vita, Smartphone & Nintendo 3DS

Link to CNET’s article: http://www.cnet.com/news/nintendo-3ds-midlife-crisis-can-mario-protect-it-from-mobile/

What’s on your NOOK?

This question comes up a lot, usually along with the question of .. what can I do if I root or dual boot my NOOK Color or NOOK Tablet. So instead of just telling you, I’ll show you what’s on our NOOK’s.

My NOOK Tablet

I just got the NOOK Tablet and I’ve rooted it per the process I outlined on my blog here. You can click on any one of the images and it’ll enlarge so you can more easily search for something embarrassing.

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The NOOK Tablet is pretty bare. I just downloaded the stuff I immediately figured I’d use. Or fit my use. You can see along the bottom, I have the Kindle app, ezPDF Reader, Kobo and Google Books. I also have Aldiko on there for my older books that have outdated formats. I also have Pandora on there for listening.

Finally, yes. I still have access to all of my B&N content. When I press the button, I get my usual NOOK shelf.

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So that was the NOOK Tablet. The kids use my NOOK Color and it’s a complete disaster. But it’ll again show you the options you have for your NOOK.

The NOOK Color

This NOOK Color is dual booted using the process detailed here.

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As you can see, there is a lot of content on the NOOK Color. Mostly because it’s the oldest and has been gathering apps for about a year now. But also because the Amazon AppStore makes a TON of apps available for free over the course of a year.

The kids are obviously more interested in gaming than anything else and that’s fine too. I have some stuff on there that is going to go away now that I have the NOOK Tablet, like Facebook and Gmail. And I also need to toss a purchase password on the Markets.

The NOOK Color is dual booting so there is no NOOK software integration on this side but you can see in the first screenshot here that I have the NOOK app installed instead. It works, and I have all of these other FREE games and options that I just couldn’t get through the NOOK App Store.

So there you have it. That’s what the kids and I use our NOOK’s for.

How to Root your NOOK Tablet

This tutorial is for 16GB NOOK Tablets. It is confirmed to work on B&N software revisions 1.4.0, 1.4.1 and 1.4.2. This tutorial will not work on the 8GB version of the NOOK Tablet.
The screenshots that accompany this tutorial were taking with the 4.5 version of albertwertz’s utility. Follow the text and you’ll be fine. You can use the screenshots as a guide. The pictures may look a tad different, but don’t let that concern you.

Last modified: Mar 2nd, 2012. This tutorial is meant to be as simple to follow as possible. That said, rooting a device is not no-brainer stuff. It is especially not for the unwilling to read and research. I will present this all as simply as I know how but I am not responsible for anything that happens as a result of not following directions or even following them perfectly. The same things apply that did in rooting the NOOK color. I’ve not heard of anyone bricking their device, there are plenty of tutorials on how to restore your NOOK Tablet back to its stock state. So proceed with confidence if you are willing to tread the XDA forums in search of answers. I’ll will certainly help with any issues I’ve encountered, or little lessons learned, but in-depth help will probably require help from the geniuses at XDA.

So now that you have been giving the worst case scenario, let’s go about making that NOOK Tablet more useful.

Prerequisites:

– microSD card (probably any one will do, the process creates a 70mb partition)
– microSD card reader
– 16GB NOOK Tablet (*that you’ve already registered to your NOOK.com account)

* Registered isn’t required, but is recommended. You’ll need to perform extra steps if it isn’t registered. I don’t cover that in my tutorial, but I understand the directions that contain that information can be found in video form here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQfOswBrXIg

Step 1: Download a File

Download SD_ROOT_NTV16gbV4_6.zip from mediafire.com (MD5: bfd2c4167f4811e6d986a9ca04d48b54).

Credit: albertwertz Source: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1439630

Note: Albert asked that folks not host his file so it is only available via mediafire.com.

If you are more visual, here is a link to a YouTube video by Albert that covers this content in detail: http://youtu.be/UCET91ElYmc

Step 2: Extract that file

Since the SD_ROOT_NTV16gbV4_6.zip is a .ZIP file you can use whatever you want to extract it. Windows has built in ZIP handling. I use an app called 7-ZIP. WinRAR is another popular compression utility. Basically extract the file however you want. I’d probably just start by double clicking on the file and whatever app opens is probably fine for you.

I created a new folder called NTRoot to extract them to. You can do whatever you please. My folder looks like this after I extracted the files.

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Step 3: Image your microSD card

Put a microSD card into your PC. All data on this card will be destroyed. So back it up. You won’t need to keep the card in the NOOK Tablet, so you can copy stuff back when you’re done with it.

Launch the Win32DiskImager.exe from wherever you extracted the file to in Step 2.

Click the Blue Folder image icon.

A new dialog box will pop up titled Select a disk image. Click the NT16gbV4_6 image file.img.

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Click Save.

The Win32 Disk Imager should now look similar to this.

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The Device dropdown option should be pointing to the microSD card that you intend to use for this rooting process. It’s different on everyone’s computer, so you’ll have to determine the proper drive on your own. The easiest way, I suppose is to open My Computer on your desktop and see what drive shows up when you plug the microSD card in. On my PC, it’s the H: drive.

Click Write.

Step 4: Root your NOOK Tablet

Turn your NOOK Tablet on.

Put in the ROOT microSD card you created in Step 3 into the NOOK Tablet.

Turn the Tablet off.

When it’s completely off, hold the power button and the N button at the same time. Keep holding it.

This is the N button:

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You should see the usual NOOK boot screen with the grey N in the middle of the screen. Keep holding the power and N button. When that grey N flashes off the screen you can let go. The NOOK Tablet should be off again because you were holding the power button.

Turn the NOOK Tablet on.

After a moment you should see a white screen with a cardboard box on it. When it finishes you’ll see a screen that says CWM-based Recovery.

If you don’t see that white screen with a cardboard box, turn off your NOOK Tablet. Hold the Power button and the N button to turn the NOOK Tablet on. Don’t let go. Keep holding it. You want to hold both buttons until the NOOK Tablet shuts itself off again. Instead of turning it on by hand, this time plug one end of your NOOK USB cable into your PC and then the other end into your NOOK Tablet. This will turn the device on and you should see that white screen with a cardboard box on it.

If you still don’t see that white screen with a cardboard box, try powering the NOOK Tablet down. Then plug your USB charging cable into your computer. Plug the other end into your NOOK Tablet. This will trigger a power up. You should now see that white screen and the cardboard box.

When you see the screen that says CWM-based Recovery, you’ll use the Volume Up and Volume Down arrows on the right side of your NOOK Tablet to navigate the menu.

You’ll want to go down to the install zip from sdcard option by pressing Volume Down once. Press the N button to select that option.

The next menu is titled Apply update from .zip file on SD card. You’ll chose the top option of choose zip from sdcard. You’ll select this option by pressing the N button again.

The next menu is titled Choose a zip to apply. You’ll navigate down to the Root_Zip_NTV4_6.zip. Hit the N button again to select it.

The next menu is titled Confirm install?. You’ll need to press Volume Down several times to get down to the Yes Install Root_Zip_NTV4_6.zip. Confirm that you’d like to do the installation by pressing the N button again.

You’ll see a few things running along the screen and before too long you’ll see the message Install from sdcard complete.

Press the Power button on the NOOK Tablet. It should return you to a previous menu. The first option should be – reboot system now. Hit the N button to select that option and when that screen goes black, take the microSD card out. Or at least eject it so the NOOK Tablet doesn’t boot back into CWM Recovery.

Step 5: Configure your rooted tablet

When the NOOK Tablet boots for the first time you are going to see a white prompt box says Complete action using that gives you two options. Your options are ADW.Launcher or Home. Check the little box that says “Use by default” and select ADW.Launcher.

Your ADW Launcher will now launch. Now press your NOOK Tablet’s N button twice. This will generate another white screen message that says Complete action using. Check the little box that says “Use by default” and select the top option, which is Home Catcher, even if there is no text next to it. The icon looks like this:

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Now what happens is if you press the N button once, your B&N menu pops up.

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If you press the N button twice, your ADW Launcher appears.

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Next bit of business is an annoying error at the top of your ADW Launcher that says Problem loading widget. Just press that message and hold it until a red bar appears at the top of the screen with a trashcan. Drag the widget up to there and let it go over the trashcan. Annoying error message gone.

Step 6: Make it yours

You now have access to the Android Market via the Market shortcut in the AppDrawer (the middle on-screen button, between kindle and web). You can sideload the Amazon AppStore to get free paid apps every day. You can install the kindle app to read your kindle library on your NOOK Tablet. Netflix and Hulu Plus are already installed because they are on the NOOK Side. So go crazy. Have fun.

Step 7 (optional): Restore the space on your microSD card

You can keep the card you used for this process for restore purposes, or you can simply reformat it within the NOOK Tablet software. If you prefer formatting from your PC, The HP Format Tool is available [ here ].

Step 8 (optional): Block B&N Over The Air Updates (OTA)

This process will stop B&N from pushing a new update to your NOOK Tablet which would likely break your root. This will lock you into whatever version you currently have. That’s a good thing for folks who like what they’ve got and want to wait and see what B&N offers before just blindly accepting an update that may serve of no use to them. Instead of writing another tutorial, there is a guy who I think is doing great videos. He has a tutorial for this process. It can be found [ here ]. If you decide not to block OTA’s then B&N could automatically update your NOOK Tablet at any time and your root will be broken. You’ll still have access to your ereader and probably most of your apps but some may give you errors or not work at all. So blocking OTA’s is highly recommended.

More Resources

The card I linked to was created by Albert Wertz who stood on the shoulders of giants and came up with this nice packaging for us. He also create a YouTube library of fantastic videos that show much of this content and more. One of my favorite videos of his is the demo of this card where he walks through most of this process and more. So check him out on YouTube or XDA and feel free to send him a donation. He’s done a fantastic job of putting this content together into a single package.

YouTube Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSfeJwMxsRs

Tutorials inspiration: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1439630

If this helped you, or if I’ve helped you in the past, I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation. If you’re not interested, no biggie. Forget I mentioned it. =)

What to expect: NOOKcolor dual boot

I get a LOT of the same questions regarding the NOOKcolor after a dual boot. What does it offer? What’s the big deal? Does it look like the regular NOOKcolor? How about you send me one for free and I’ll send you some cookies? I plan on addressing as many questions as I can think of while giving you a little idea of what to expect from your dual booting NOOKcolor.

When I turn it on am I going to know what to do? Honestly, I don’t know. It SHOULD be pretty easy to use but it’s not a Fisher Price toy either so there may be a little intuition required. If you bought a dual boot card from me you’ll get a timed optional boot menu. If you press nothing, you’ll go into the Android OS. And when you do you’ll see something very similar to this.

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How do I navigate? Does it automatically find my Wi-Fi? I discuss navigation in a blog post I wrote for folks who bought the microSD card I put together. I might as well make it available here too. It contains some helpful information like how navigate and how to setup your Wi-Fi. You can find that post [ here ].

So I have an Android Tablet. What do I do with it now? If you press the menu button, the one between the phone icon and the globe icon, you’ll get your app tray. That tray has all of your installed apps on it. It looks like this.

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That little Market icon is going to be your gateway to transforming your NOOKcolor into a full fledged Android tablet. You can install Netflix. Pandora. Kindle & Kobo apps. Aldiko is a great eReader app for your sideloaded content. How about Dropbox to get your sideloaded content over to your NOOKcolor? Maybe you’d like a free version of Angry Birds to play.

My point is the reasons to dual boot your NOOKcolor are endless. The best part is that warranty is still intact because your NOOKcolor’s internal memory is still in tact. If you remove the microSD card it’s like nothing ever happened to your NOOKcolor. You can take the card out, have it serviced, pop it back into the new NOOKcolor and you have your tablet back.

What did you put on yours? My personal NOOKcolor is packed with stuff for me and the kids. We have over 20 age appropriate games for them. I have Nook, Kindle, Kobo and Google Books installed. We have about 20 Dr. Seuss books. I also have Netflix installed. I installed the NHL GameCenter Live app and get to watch streaming hockey on it –albeit, in a very small little window. This thing is an entertainment power house now. And I love it. The NOOKcolor is great on its own, as an eReader. But it’s fantastic dual booted because we actually get the tablet experience that B&N likes to promote a little too loosely. It’s like calling a golf cart a driving experience, sure it’s technically a driving experience but it’s not souped up Detroit Muscle.

In Closing These pictures don’t really do it all justice because it’s not much to look at on its own. It’s really when you get to customizing it to you that you start to get all excited about it. It’s when you have YOUR apps installed that you realize, “there are a bunch of ways I can use this that I couldn’t before”. I can’t imagine anyone popping that card in, booting it up and being underwhelmed. But isn’t it nice to know that if you are in the minority that you can easily undo it by removing a card?

Amazon Tablet vs. NOOKcolor(2?)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love my eReaders. Well, I love my NOOKs. I had a 1st-gen eInk NOOK that I sold to my cousin.  I own a NOOKcolor and then I bought a NOOK Touch because I missed the eInk display. I’ve been a big fan of each NOOK device so far. Then I heard that Amazon is FINALLY getting around to producing their own tablet device.

TechCrunch posted an article detailing a hands on with the device. Some of the information in the article contradicts what was published on BGR. Particularly that the 7” model, nicknamed Coyote, would be a dual core. TC reports a single core. Now the BGR article was written back in May and TC’s hands on was presumably closer to the articles publish date of September 2nd. If TechCrunch is on base then Amazon may have a good competitor for the NOOKcolor. If BGR is right, then Amazon has a device with incredible potential to draw on-the-fence users away from the NOOKcolor.

There is just one problem. BGR is reporting that the NOOKcolor 2 is coming to market THIS MONTH. Specs are almost completely absent besides the fact that it too will be a 7” eReader. The big news though is that the NOOKcolor 2 will have an eInk backplane which would seem to indicate that it will have both LCD and eInk display. Think of everything great about the NOOKcolor coupled with everything great about the NOOK eInk eReaders and you have a hell of a 1-2 punch. That combination alone has me jumping up and down, ready to bust down B&N’s door on their first day of availability.

If the rumored hardware in the Amazon Tablet is to be believed then it really doesn’t offer much beyond what the NOOKcolor does. I’m sure it has an upgraded processor and more memory but it understandably lacks a camera and GPS. It doesn’t bring a single new thing to the table. Amazon is rumored to have a LCD/eInk device in development as well but TechCrunch indicates that’s “nowhere near completion”. If that’s true then Barnes & Noble will beat Amazon to market AGAIN! First with it’s color tablet and possibly next with its color/eInk hybrid.

Not that any of this will likely sway the Kindle fan-boys and girls. If your new to the market you may be enticed by NOOK’s offerings, but if you’re a Kindle loyalist you aren’t likely going to walk away from your library just because the competitor has cooler technology. You can at least rest comfortable in knowing that a similar device is in the minds of the Kindle brain trust.

Gizmodo took the info from the TechCrunch article and mocked up what they believe the Kindle tablet will look like. It looks mighty boring to me but then again this is just an artist rendering. And in fairness the NOOKcolor is kind of boring too without root privileges or CM7.amazon-kindle

Between the NOOKcolor 2 supposedly launching this month and the Droid Prime supposedly coming to Verizon in October I’m going to be picking up cans and pennies everywhere. Anyone need a CM7 prebuilt microSD card? =)