Nook Tablet Might Not be Hackable

Hackers may have only gotten their hands on the nook tablet yesterday, but there is already a report that it might not be as easy to hack as the Nook Color or the Kindle Fire.

One early adventurer tried to hack the Nook Tablet this morning and he’s not having any success. According to XDA Forums member pokey9000:

I have reason to believe the Nook Tablet is efuse locked. This means that we can only boot signed bootloaders from microSD.

I don’t have the technical expertise to check his work, but right now I’m hoping that he’s wrong.  Because if he’s right then it looks like Barnes & Noble made hacking the Nook Tablet incredibly difficult.

If you follow Android phone news then you’ve probably heard the term “signed bootloaders” before. This is a form of DRM that some hardware developers use to control what gets installed on their devices. (BTW, the Nook Color didn’t have one, I don’t think.)

This won’t necessarily make it impossible to hack the Nook Tablet, but it does lower the chance of success and it adds another layer of work for the hackers. But I can recall at least one time that hackers have successfully overcome the DRM, so it’s clearly not impossible.

But will anyone make the effort? Right now hackers have a choice of Android tablets to work on. We might see interest in the Nook Tablet dry up simply because there are other projects worth doing that aren’t as hindered as the Nook Tablet.

And if the Nook Tablet isn’t hacked (while the Kindle Fire is), then I’m not sure that the NT will be the better value anymore.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Alexander Inglis16 November, 2011

    Nook Tablet, hacked or unhacked, is different value — not better — than Kindle Fire. Most users will want to use it out of the box for Nook content and related content from other providers (eg. Netflix, Zinio, Rdio, etc). As long as B&N facilitates non-ebook content, the value is strong and different from Kindel Fire (which, after all, has a value-lead in price and in-house content).

  2. cookie16 November, 2011

    I won’t buy unless a custom rom is available. In the meantime, I am hoping the release of this tablet will drive the refurbished Nook colors even lower.

    1. Michael16 November, 2011

      If the Tablet isn’t hackable, I would expect Nook Color prices to stay strong because there will be demand for the older, hackable hardware.

  3. […] the word that the Nook Tablet is limited to 1GB on-board storage for non-B&N content, and that it might be non-hackable, and you have a very ‘caveat laden’ new set of tablets vying for the consumer space […]

  4. Mike Cane16 November, 2011

    If B&N made rooting that hard, they shot themselves in the head. The reason the original NookColor sold so well was entirely due to it being rooted easily.

    1. Geert Meijer16 November, 2011

      Unlike the NC the NT seems to allow installing of apk files from the browser.
      It seems the Amazon app store is already working.

      1. Nate Hoffelder16 November, 2011

        Oooh, shiny! Thanks!

  5. […] reader tipped me to the secret (Thanks, Geert). There’s a thread over on the XDA-Forums where someone discovered a loophole […]

  6. Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet: Not quite as open as we thought | ZDNet17 November, 2011

    […] release, one looking to do the same with the Nook Tablet has discovered that Barnes & Noble has apparently used a locked bootloader. This means the tablet will not be very easy to hack, and particularly difficult to install custom […]

  7. Citizen19 November, 2011

    I find it ironic that B&N intends their latest device to be used on their ecosystem only, and now a band of users will have to spend their money on B&N’s direct competitor (amazon appstore) instead. And in less than 14 days (B&N’s return policy for the Nook Tablet), returns are gonna hit the shelves due to the inability for the users to customize and install apps as they wish. The irony…

    1. fjtorres20 November, 2011

      Oh, its worse: even if it gets opened up, there will always be the sword of damocles hanging over your head of a mandatory/necessary firmware updte closing the exploit/loophole.
      That’s one reason I never jumped on the (otherwise-enticing) NC refurb deals and why I’m eaning towards a Sony T1 as my best path to an eink Android tablet: we *know* Sony *never* updates their firmware. 😉

  8. […] week I reported that the Nook Tablet had DRM built into the bootloader which was going to make it hard to hack. That’s still true, but it hasn’t stopped […]

  9. […] posted before about the Nook Tablet having a DRMed bootloader and how that will make it difficult to hack. B&N did this on purpose; it makes escaping the […]

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