I didn’t know if it would ever happen, but experimental nightly builds for Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) have arrived for the venerable Nook Color. I installed it tonight.
Since I’ve previously run other versions of Cyanogenmod on the Nook Color, the upgrade was pretty straightforward. I had to reboot to recovery, update my recovery because my existing recovery was old and incompatible, reboot again (to recovery of course), which put me in Clockworkmod 126.96.36.199, and from there I installed the Cyanogenmod 11 zip followed by the Google Apps zip.
Newly flashed Android devices sometimes take some time to settle in before they’re really usable. On this 1 GHz, 512MB device, Kit Kat does seem faster than any of the Jelly Bean builds (Android 4.1-4.3) I’ve tried to run on it, but it’s not as quick as my Samsung Galaxy S 4G running Android 4.0.4. I’ll give it a little time.
I went looking for a resource-friendly browser that would run well on a 1 GHz-ish Android tablet. Everything I read said that Baidu was the lightest browser on resources. Since Baidu is a Chinese company and very low-end Android tablets are common in China, this makes sense.
I’ve never been one to shy away from alternative browsers on low-end systems on other platforms. Usually I sacrifice some rendering quality, but I frequently found that preferable to waiting around for minutes for bloatware to load and pages to render at glacial speed.
So I tried out Baidu, in spite of criticisms of its user interface and annoying defaults. The annoying defaults, it turns out, are easy enough to turn off, and I found the user interface, though out of style, makes it easier to use. It has forward and back buttons, unlike most other browsers on Android, and tapping those buttons is far more responsive than gestures on high-end browsers. I’m willing to give up 8 pixels of vertical space for that. Read more
After rooting a device and loading a ROM or two on it, it’s easy to start to wonder what tweaks and settings actually make a difference in performance or whether you’re just imagining things. For example, my devices all have the option to force Android to use the GPU for rendering (under Developer Options), but does it really help?
Benchmarks are a synthetic but objective way to measure the effect. I use Antutu. Read more
My Nook Color is my experimental Android rig. Since it’s aging fast, I don’t use it nearly as heavily as my other Android devices, so if I accidentally do something wrong, I can live without it much more easily than I can do without a phone or my nicer tablet.
So I tend to try a lot of different things on it, just because I can.
The newest ROM I’ve tried on it is called MROM, and I must say I am impressed. Read more
A longtime reader who asked to be anonymous got his first tablet and smartphone a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed, to say the least. “What’s the point?” he asked me privately.
To be honest, I understand. I got my first tablet a couple of years ago–a Nook Color that I loaded Cyanogenmod on. And, to be honest, once the thrill of hacking an e-reader into a full-blown tablet with no restrictions on it wore off, I didn’t do a lot with it. When I thought of it, I would check the weather on it when I was getting ready in the morning, and maybe glance at my e-mail with it, but mostly it sat on my end table. I probably used it 15 minutes a week.
On my Nook Color running Cyanogenmod, inside Settings, Performance, there’s a mysterious setting called I/O Scheduler. Storage performance (I guess I can’t call it disk performance anymore) is critical to overall system performance, but it’s also easy to get wrong. I assumed the default setting, something called cfq, was optimal.
I was wrong. Let’s explain why.
I’ve talked before about how to disable animation in Cyanogenmod 10.x, but I’ve done a few other things to conserve some scarce system resources on my gigahertz-ish, half-gig Nook Color. If you’re running Cyanogenmod on a phone that’s a couple of years old, these tricks can help you too. Read more
So I have Cyanogenmod 10.3 running on a Nook Color that I use as a secondary tablet. It’s outmoded, but still useful enough that I want to keep it around. But a week or two ago, it suddenly started to lag really badly. So I looked into it a little bit.
Some other Android tablets have some trouble with TRIM. Android generally handles it decently on its own, but it doesn’t always seem to. I found an app–for rooted tablets only–called Lagfix that lets you force TRIM yourself. Read more
Cyanogenmod–the open-source distribution of Android for undersupported/abandoned devices–went to version 10.1 this week. Version 10.1 is based on Android 4.2.2, so it matches what’s in stores right now.
My Nook Color was sitting unused, so I figured I had nothing to lose by loading Cyanogenmod 10.1 on it. It was slow and laggy and crashed a lot under 7.2, so it wasn’t like it could be much worse.
I bought a keyboard this week for the Hisense Sero 7 Pro. It’s a universal keyboard/case made by Afunta, and I paid $12.50 for it. I took a chance on it, and now you don’t have to. Its spring-loaded jaws nicely accomodate the Sero 7 Pro, and the keyboard works with the Sero 7 Pro with no issues. Plug it in, wait a moment, and it starts working, replacing the onscreen keyboard when you need keyboard input, basically turning your tablet into a convertible. It has a micro USB connector, unlike many 7-inch keyboards, so it works with the Sero 7 without an adapter. It’s odd that most keyboards seem to have full-size USB connectors but most 7-inch tablets have micro ports.
I wouldn’t want to type at length with the keyboard, but it’s much nicer than using an onscreen keyboard on a 7-inch screen.