My ideal tablet computer has a 7-inch widescreen and fits in my cargo pants pocket. All of the 7-inch tablets on the market today run Android OS (no 7-inch iPad or TouchPad yet). Unfortunately, the cheap 7-inch Android tablets perform badly, while the expensive ones perform well, but cost as much or more than an iPad. A good compromise is the Nook Color from Barnes & Noble. At $249.00, the Nook Color offers a modified Android experience (read: hobbled) out of the box, with the full ebook reader experience. The biggest downside to the Nook Color is Barnes & Noble have limited which apps you can install. By rooting the Nook Color, which basically unlocks the operating system and allows you to install apps and features not supported by Barnes & Noble, you get a full-fledged Android tablet meeting my cargo pants pocket criteria.

Before I walk you through the process of rooting your Nook, keep in mind rooting may void the warranty. Forcing 8 failed boots by holding down the N and power buttons as you boot up, allows you to reset your Nook to factory settings, so you can revert the rooting process. I’m providing the info here as is. If your Nook is in some way permanently damaged, consider yourself warned.

Getting Ready to Root Your Nook Color
While there are a few careful steps you need to make, rooting the Nook Color and adding the fully-featured Android OS experience, complete with the Android Market and all available Android apps, is reasonably straightforward. For everything to work properly, you need to have previously registered the Nook Color you plan to root with Barnes & Noble, so that their store will still work. It also helps if you have a Google Account setup in advance, but you can create one of those after rooting the device.

Before you begin, you need to make sure you have a MicroSD card you can format. You will also need some addition software for your computer.

Required Software
7-zip or any other zip utility with support for .tar and .gz files.

Image Writer for Windows is free software used to make your MicroSD card a bootable drive.

ClockworkMod is the software that provides a framework to install the rooted Nook Color features. The link includes several different sizes, which are intended to be used depending on the size of your microSD card. The file named 128mb_clockwork-0.7.tar.gz will work just fine.

You will want to download the zip file from the xda-developers forum, which is where I got pieces of the information used to root a Nook Color.

Manual Nooter is the software update that allows you to maintain the features of Nook Color while also having all the advantages of a full Android OS experience. You will need the version 4.6.16 or newer. The link above also includes downloads for something called touchnooter, which you do not need.

Preparing Your microSD Card
After you acquire all the required software, make sure you have 7-zip or some other zip utility installed. You will want to download and unzip Image Writer for Windows so that you can run it from your computer. Image Writer for Windows doesn’t install, it runs directly from the folder, so you may want to unzip it to a folder on your Desktop or Documents folder to make the software easy to find.

As I mentioned earlier, ClockworkMod comes in sizes for MicroSD cards up to 8GB. You don’t actually need the 8GB version for an 8GB SD card. I recommend downloading one of the smaller sizes to save time and space. You probably will want to reformat the MicroSD to a usable state after performing your root process anyway. Un-gzip and Un-tar the ClockWork you want to use, then you are ready to start building your MicroSD boot drive.

With the MicroSD card connected to a card reader on your computer, launch Image Writer for Windows on your computer. Click the folder icon in Win32 Disk Imager and browse to the location of your ClockworkMod file. Choose the correct drive letter for your MicroSD card from the Device dropdown list. Make sure you have the correct drive letter because otherwise you will be reformatting another drive on your computer. Once you have the path for ClockWork and the correct Device selected, click the Write button to write ClockWork to your microSD card.

Copy from your computer to your microSD card. Do not unzip the file.
Extract the uRecImg and uRecRam files from the file you downloaded in the list of required software. Rename uRecImg to uImage. Rename uRecRam to uRamdisk. Copy these files over the uImage and uRamdisk files currently on your microSD card.

Assuming you followed the steps up to this point, you are ready to root your Nook Color.

Rooting Your Nook Color
Power down your Nook Color, if you haven’t already. Plug your Nook Color into the charger, because you don’t want to have the battery die in the middle of the software update. Remove the microSD card from your computer and insert it in the SD slot on the Nook Color. Power on your Nook Color and wait for it to boot to the ClockworkMod install screen.

Use the volume up and down buttons to browse to the install zip from sdcard option in ClockworkMod. The N button selects the option and takes you to the next screen.
Next you need to choose zip from sdcard and press the N button again. Choose by clicking the N button one more time. You will then go to a screen with an option to Yes – Install in the middle of a bunch of No options. Once you select Yes rooting your Nook will commence. When the process completes, you need to reboot your Nook Color. Remove the microSD card before you reboot, so that you don’t end up in the ClockworkMod interface. Assuming everything worked properly, when your device boots, you will go through a short series of configuration steps. I highly recommend watching the video below so you can see the process before you go through it yourself.