The dual-screen Nook ebook reader from Barnes & Noble excited many when they learned it would be running Google's Android platform, but was a disappointment when it shipped due to poor performance. Not put off by this, hackers have got their hands on the device and cleverly subverted it - turning it into a portable, always-on Internet tablet with free mobile broadband.

The instructions posted over on nookDevs - via Digital Trends explain how to take the device apart, remove the in-built microSD card containing the operating system, and replace a few files in order to free up the true potential of the Nook.

While the process pretty much waves goodbye to any warranty that you may have had left, if you're willing to take the risk of destroying the device - perhaps out of frustration with its poor performance as an ebook reader - you'll be left with a dual-screen device running a full, unlocked Android operating system.

As well as opening the doors for third-party applications, the main reason for hacking the device in this way is to use the in-built wireless connectivity: much like Amazon's rival Kindle, the Nook contains a subsidised mobile broadband connection which is designed to be used to buy books from Barnes & Noble's ebook store while you're out and about. Because the connection exists for the sole reason of you spending money, there's no monthly fee or data transfer limit. By hacking the Nook and installing a web browser, you're left with a fully portable device for browsing the web wherever you can get a mobile 'phone signal completely free of charge - albeit in greyscale.

Sadly for Windows users, the process relies on being able to mount the microSD card's file system - which is in Ext3 format, and can only be mounted under Linux, Unix, or BSD. However, this restriction can be worked around via the use of a Linux live CD if you're desperate to try the hack without replacing your desktop OS.

Any Nook owners tempted to try the process and get a nice Internet tablet, or is the benefit not worth the risk of destroying your not-inexpensive device - and rendering your DRM-laced ebook purchases worthless? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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