Has the Nook had its last gasp?

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SJT75

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Sep 19, 2020
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Yes product section is confusing on Boox. I found about that device here. https://onyxboox.com/boox_poke2color . Price is almost bearable. Device isn't locked up. You can install apps you want. Large number of supported file formats. Have Bluetooth. They could put there little bit bigger battery though. Microphone is there too. Android 9 and 8 core processor. 6 inch screen only with color maybe usable for comics hardly anything else above. Can use multiple dictionaries and have options for online use of Google translate. USB with OTG type C. Front light system is there also. 32Gb internal memory (not all available to user as system consume some space naturally) and 2Gb of RAM. They ticked almost all the right boxes. Still I have a feeling of so close but yet just a bit short of perfect.
 

Pajamaman

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Jul 18, 2017
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I agree Renata. I have moved onto the Onyx. I have a Nova 7.8 first generation and it works great. The power under the hood really shows.I also have a Poke Pro gen 1 that doesn't have the styling you don't like, but I don't use it. I like 7.8". The only problem with the Onyx is it closed and the creators refuse to respect license and release source for development. Maybe it can be hacked?

The only advantage of the Nook over the Onyx is the screen and comfort light. Both are better than the Onyx, but the Onyx screen and light are still very good. And of course, Nook is much cheaper.

But I've moved to Onyx. There is a Onyx sub-forum on Mobileread if you decide to try one out.
 

Renate

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I guess that the Poke 2 Color is just coming out. It uses the Kaleido technology.
Just make sure that you see one in the "flesh" before you buy it. (No, I haven't seen one.)
The Kaleido uses two layers, a pretty much standard eInk layer and a lower resolution "Color Filter Array" (CFA).
All the stuff is detailed here: https://www.eink.com/color-technology.html
There are reports that the white is grayer than on a regular B&W and that the backlight is more necessary.

I have moved onto the Onyx. ... Maybe it can be hacked?
Well, it depends how much it's locked down.
They could be making it difficult about getting sources and building from scratch but not particularly making it difficult to modify.
Being able to sideload is a minimal requirement, but it doesn't tell you how easy it is to root/modify.

(Aside: I only like rooting the ADB. I've no need for SU or Magic.)

Strangely enough, I'd rather modify than build from source.
I find it easier to just modify something than do a build which pulls in a few gig of sources.

Hmm, I'm not sure how much Onyx has screwed everything up by making the UI "skinned".

For my money, Bluetooth is very important. I use various page turners.
I don't use WiFi or internet browsers on my eInk devices.
 

Pajamaman

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Onyx shut down their forum with a very long thread criticizing them about not releasing sources. In summary:

Yes. Actually, the fact the software is proprietary is the copyright violation ;).
At last for parts of the firmware - mostly a Software called 'Linux', an essentially part of the Android Operating System, (but also some other stuff).
This software is licences under the Open Source Licence "GPL". Since it's Open Source, you can use this software freely and even distribute (even modified!) versions of this Software.
BUT there are restrictions, and GPL simply stats: All modifications of this software have to be GPL-licencesd, too (and therefore must be Open Source).


So they're not releasing modified open-source sources.

But they have a new forum and reddit page here:

I believe Remarkable is more open.

An alternative to Onyx is Boyue/Likebook. I had a Boyue a few years back. I had an Onyx at the same time (their first model I think). The Boyue couldn't run some apps and was prone too crash. The Onyx had its faults, but it is still running about 8 years later...It's a tank. I think Likebook/Boyue is much improved now, and some prefer it, though I think the general consensus remains that Onyx is more robust. Unlike Onyx, Likebook has an expandable slot, and does try to upgrade Android versions. Onyx does upgrade firmware.

For my money, Bluetooth is very important. I use various page turners.

Onyx has solid BT. It works with page-turners.

(Aside: I only like rooting the ADB. I've no need for SU or Magic.)

I've never connected the Onyx via adb, but I assume it's possible.

Hmm, I'm not sure how much Onyx has screwed everything up by making the UI "skinned".

These Chinese Android readers are slightly odd beasts, I suspect. But saying that, I've been very happy with them. They are the closest modern thing I can find to the old rooted Nook ST, which to me is the gold standard. You can find a lot of them used. 3 of my 4 are second hand and going strong.
 

SJT75

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Thanks to Renate for clarification how that technology works and especially for the added link. There they describe even better tech that is awesome (ACeP) but still overpriced today. Few years from now I expect it to become standard.

Also thanks to Pajama man for bursting the sales pitch from Onyx about it being "open". Well I guess it is more open then stock NST but not according to today standard.

As far as page turners, digitizers or other added bonus to a e-reader...heck I would like someone to cobble together a device that wouldn't have to use additional gadgets to make it better. Pen or voice input would be perfect but I agree that we seems to be just a little short to make it a reality. We can dream about it though there is nothing wrong with that. Tech progress is getting us to the point where we will be able to use devices the way we are used to and not conform ourselves to the ability of the devices. For example Fujitsu Quadreno have models A4 and A5 which imply that manufacturers are aware of the user preferences for acceptable screen size but yet so far they were not able to make a device at affordable price to fit inside that niche.

At the end I wish everyone that follow this thread good riddance of the past year and hopefully better new year.
 
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Renate

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Onyx has solid BT. It works with page-turners.
I use a wired button box on my Glow2.
It connects to the console connector on the back.
I send a command to a daemon so that I don't have to use the overblown "input" Java process.

I've never connected the Onyx via adb, but I assume it's possible.
Sometimes it's a hassle with Windows but you can always modify the .inf for VID/PID/MI and install it unsigned.
 

SJT75

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I just checked what kind of e-readers is available at my local stores. They aren't very popular here and due to low demand for them only Amazon devices can be found pretty much regularly. Aside from them sometimes Pocketbook here and there and I guess that Remarkable have some audience amongst designers and artist crew but they are obviously purchased online due to a sales model choice of the manufacturer. Pocketbook isn't bad and they have also a color model in Kaleido tech that haven't yet reach our market. Amazon monopoly over e-book sales market gave them an unfair advantage so they offer bare minimum that they think good enough to keep the advantage. Remarkable might be open I couldn't know that for sure until I see one but it looks rather Spartan design to me. That is not surprising as it was designed as a notebook/sketchbook. Pocketbook Basic models that reach this market offers nothing special to make me wish to replace my NST. And surprise best selling models are still 6 inch screen ones. Renate might find something interesting in InkPad line of models they offer but as I have said that is more of European brand and I do not know is that available on USA market.
 

jptiger

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Jul 23, 2011
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Changing gears somewhat, one possibility that I'm thinking through is the original NST as a wireless eink display via VNC for something like a raspberry Pi.

The use case I'm envisioning would be a single-purpose eink tablet running an android app. For example stuck on my fridge connected to a shopping list app. Eink screens are notoriously expensive at any size over a couple inches, but B&N flooded the market so used "working" NSTs are going on Ebay for ~$20. The hardware inside may not be great as-is for all the reasons stated above, but I think it's good enough to run a VNC app to connect to something with more processing power.

The convoluted technical way I'd see this working is getting a Raspberry Pi 3 4, installing Android, and then setting the NST to VNC to the thing. Somehow. That last stet I'm admittedly a little fuzzy on, but if the battery drain from VNC isn't too bad, you could conceivably have a weird, duct-tape use case getting the NST to at least display and interact with modern Android apps. Not great for portability since it needs to be on a network with the pi, but perfectly acceptable as an eink Google Calendar to stick onto your wall.
 
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Renate

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A lot of folks like VNC stuff, but eh...

The Nook has enough horsepower to do a shopping list by itself.
I'd rather either just make it a web page or an app that communicates over JSON to something.

I do use a RPi as a house server but usually just interact with it over web pages from an Apache server on the RPi.
I have written some apps that use JSON but I almost forget about that and just use the web page.
 

jptiger

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Jul 23, 2011
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I think part of the advantage of vnc would be the ability to use existing cloud data and services that don’t have readily available APIs. My wife and I use Microsoft To-do for shared grocery lists for example and share google calendars. My work uses Asana, and I have some shared projects managed in Trello. I‘d love to be able to use all of those things on a dedicated eink device each for $20 each and the cost of a couple Raspberry Pis.I get the technical ease of just displaying custom web pages but I‘d rather not sacrifice my friends, family’s and coworkers ability to access and collaborate on those platforms as they would normally on their own devices.
 

SJT75

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@jptiger I have seen few interesting development projects with e-ink screen at its base. If you are pursuing other use beside e-reader then maybe a planner/organizer is better option then simple to-do/shopping list for relatively static use or if you are planning some mobile use something like mobile phone with e-ink screen similar to Yota phone that pioneered that, but right now Hisense A7 (5G) and A5C are going into market. If you look what to do with NST then you should consider planner/organizer as your added goal or application but then why would you limit yourself to static console instead of developing an application that will work as such on a rooted NST. If we look into newer devices with extended usage then you should look these new phones. I have no interest right now for other uses then e-reader and find NST still adequate for that but as with paperbooks where market shifted to color printed books there is no reason to assume that same would not happen with e-books to which will in some near future make B&W e-ink hopelessly obsolete. Renate is right about syncing as better way to connect your devices in my experience.
 

jptiger

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So you're saying that a RPi can somehow access these services and an Android can't?
I meant more that an RPi running a newer version of Android (via method linked above) than the NST is capable of can do so more easily than the NST can on its own. If there’s some way to get the NST running a newer version of android, that would be much simpler, but as you noted above it seems unlikely to work well given its limited specs,
 

Joydeck

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Sep 28, 2012
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As a NST replacement, the B&W Onyx Boox Poke2 looks good for me.

I don't want Bluetooth and a 6" screen is fine. Web browsing and side-loading work. Importantly, the 32GB EMMC storage is sufficient for Aard2 dictionaries.

What's the downside?
 

Renate

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As a NST replacement, the B&W Onyx Boox Poke2 looks good for me.
The Poke3 is the same price as the Poke2, is "improved" (who knows how much) and more important has more subtle styling.

What's the downside?
There is not even a home button. I don't understand that. Side buttons take room, so I understand that.
Would it have killed them to throw in a home button?
I'm not a fan of Button Savior or the tracking semicircle of round icons that Boox uses on the Poke.

It's not clear how rootable it is.
It's not clear how deeply skinned it is.
All this will take a bit of work.

It is $190.

If all you want is more memory why don't you add an SD card to your Glow?
I added 32 GB to my Glow2, my Glow3, my Glow4.
128 GB works too.

Unrelated: Poking in partner.apk I see that there is/was/could be a model BNRV700A
That's a 7.8" Glow4 with 32 GB storage.
It's not on the B&N website.
The regular BNRV700 is "temporarily out of stock" online although there is store availability.
 
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Joydeck

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The Poke3 is the same price as the Poke2, is "improved" (who knows how much) and more important has more subtle styling.

Your helpful info inspired me to look closer. The Poke 3 is certainly an advance on the Poke2. Faster core and RAM, Android 10, USB C, BT5.0, and analogue audio support. Costs 30% more here.

Browsing, CoolReader and Aard2 all work on Onyx without the need to root.

Interesting that 128 GB SD cards work on Glow and, presumably, the NST. However, 32 GB is sufficient for either Aard or Aard2 but the latter requires Android 4. Hopefully Aard2 on Onyx will use screen touch for Up and Down because Aard on the NST needs the side keys. I also use the Home key frequently.

Still, no hurry to decide since the NST is fine despite losing some rubber on the side keys, and one of the four not responding so well.
 

SJT75

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This opened one question I asked myself before already for a while. When I got NST and seen the specs went to near store and buy 32Gb SD card for it. I suspect from the start that it could support larger SD card if they are partitioned and as such enabled through some hack inside NST. Some other threads and uses of SD card often get me back to this idea. For example what if Nook Manager is on one partition and you basically never have to remove it from device, second partition is for backup, third could be for your experiments with other OS/ROMs and fourth is for your data/book collection? I am still worried about having software capable to wipe whole device on a partition though. Still does anyone else think that might be possible? Also would that come in handy/usable or would it be just a futile exercise in coding/patching NST underlying OS?
 

Renate

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Interesting that 128 GB SD cards work on Glow and, presumably, the NST.
The 32 GB Class 10 cost me less than $5.
I was hardly going to use 32 GB, but smaller SD cards weren't much cheaper.
I also didn't want to solder to a more expensive card that I wasn't going to use.
So the Glow2 and the Glow3 got a soldered in 32 GB, the Glow4 got 128 GB in a socket, which I later swapped to a socketed 32 GB.

Not, that I'd use it, but the Boox Poke software has you swipe to turn the page.
I find that crazy. It makes me apprehensive of how they've skinned the system software.
My own reader just uses a single touch on the left or right side for PU/PD.
I use my Glow2 exclusively for reading, no browsing, no other apps.

Still does anyone else think that might be possible?
Sure, partioning is possible.
I just think that the NST is getting too old to be worth the effort.
With a refurbished Glow3 direct from B&N at $90 wouldn't that make more sense?
 

Renate

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I was almost going to bite the bullet and buy a Poke3, but they're currently sold out in the US.
I noticed a new offering though, their Bluetooth page turner foot pedal https://shop.boox.com/products/boox-blue-page-pedal
A bit pricey, but nice looking.

Although for $100 you can get an iRig BlueBoard 4 button pedal https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigblueboard
For $70 you can get an iRig BlueTurn 2 button pedal https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigblueturn
Those IK Multimedia folks are firmly stuck in iPhone land but with an app (not from them) you can use it on Android/Nook/Glow.

I never understand this one. Why does guitar stuff have stupid steel pushbuttons?
You need army boots to press them. You want to try this barefoot? https://www.airturn.com/products/airturn-bt200s-6-controller
 
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SJT75

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I guess that I am still to much fond to the NST to let it go. Strangely enough like Renate I yesterday looked upon some presenter / air mouse in the shop and wondered could it work as page turner or something like that. And before that I have seen some wired oddly shaped pen like mouse that spurred same thought but I think that USB might not be up to the task. I find that in old Android device USB isn't always best implemented. Either mouse work but not the keyboard or if they work then USB flash drive won't etc. So for the time being for an old device that I have buying gadget for it that is more expensive than device beats the purpose IMHO but for newer Glow why not?
 

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  • 1
    How about usb keyboards?
    Yes, you can get a USB keyboard to work with the NST.
    You need an OTG adapter and UsbMode.apk (in the sig).
    It's easy to get working with a back powering USB hub and possible (and problematic) without one.
    1
    For the record, when I follow the click and drag instructions to the "Nook" drive, where the update zip goes is /media. Windows doesn't mount the root folder of the drive.

    That said, you're clearly right about needing to reset. I'll follow your instructions accordingly.

    Also, I did mean 1.2.1. My impression from an earlier post of yours was that the 1.2.2 was more trouble than it's worth - is that no longer the case?
    If your device was running fine and you didn't have any reason to contact B&N, blah, blah, blah, then there would be very little reason to update--especially since you have to do a factory reset. That is not your situation. Since you are going to do a factory reset it makes sense to update to 1.2.2.

    You are right about /media, but coming from a reset my instructions are just a little more direct. Never quite sure what people know or don't know :)
    1
    Which brings me to @nmyshkin and ADE 3.0. I've uninstalled 4.5 and installed 3.0, but for some reason I'm getting errors when I try to open .acsm files with it. I had one overdrive title already in there from my time with 4.5, but it's giving me an error when I try to copy it to the NST, saying I don't have permission.

    Meanwhile, I've updated cacerts.bks again, but the re-signed Opera Mobile can't connect to remote server when I point to any Overdrive.com domains. This wasn't an issue before resetting, not sure why it would start being an issue now.

    While I'm thinking about it, what's the latest way to enable norefresh and usbhosts these days?
    I'm going to have to demur temporarily on the ADE issue. I set mine up so long ago following directions from who knows where and for obvious reasons am reluctant to fiddle with it. A tenth circle of hell would seem to have a vacancy reserved for Adobe. But, I do have another PC without all the stuff already on it so I can try later to install ADE 3.0 and make it recognize another of my NSTs. I'll keep you posted.

    My sequence of events for checking out Kindle (Overdrive) books specified Opera Mini. Opera Mobile, for all its fading assets, can't negotiate most logins, Google having become impossible only a month or two ago. You may find that Opera Mini is all you will want. I am tied to Opera Mobile for the time being because it can open local HTML files and I exploit that in some of the news apps I wrote. But I can see that is not going to work much longer. Time for some hard and creative thinking and much debugging.

    If you want only USBHost and NoRefresh, you can just replace the kernal files with the ones here. To replace kernal files follow these steps. And reboot. If you also want to enable USB Audio, the easiest path is to use the CWM flashable zip by @pinguy1982. The kernal in that zip is overclocked and enables the use of FastMode, so if you would rather have NoRefresh, you just open the zip archive (not unzip) and drag the first set of kernal files I referenced to replace the resident ones. The process is described in more detail here.

    Either way, you will need an app to activate USBHost mode. @Renate NST has one in her signature (and a companion app for audio). This is really useful if you are running into trouble and need to diagnose issues. Or, you can push your luck and try my one-touch toggle apps. I use them exclusively now without any problems, but I do think a lot depends on the"fit" of your OTG adapter. Just a guess. NoRefresh also requires an app. You can follow the link you'll find in my signature.

    Edit: almost forgot about Opera Mobile. You'll have more luck by setting the security to TLS 1.2-- one of the remaining advantages of the app. Some websites will still refuse the browser, but many will at least consider it. Instructions are here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/opera-mobile-and-tls-1-2.3843524/
    1
    And... I got my Poke3.
    Initial appraisal: thumbs-up:
    Ok, there are a number of nits and I haven't even rooted it yet.
    It's elegant, small and lightweight.

    Enabling ADB is in "Applications" (and not Settings as you'd expect).
    It's not hidden or anything.

    My initial biggest worry was that stupid "Navigation Ball".
    You can turn that off, but no, not in Settings, there is an application named "Navigation Ball" to turn it off.
    In the stock Android settings you can go to Accessibility and disable it completely

    My worries about no buttons were a little assuaged.
    It uses swipes starting at the bottom over the bezel and continuing onto the screen for the recent, home, back buttons.
    In rotated mode, they follow the orientation.
    I don't think that they are actually detecting over the bezel exactly, but these swipes are easily differentiable from normal swipes.

    The stupid backlight has two controls which are not color & brightness, but hot & cold.
    I feel like I'm in a cheap hotel.
    Also, it doesn't seem to follow the standard Android brightness either.

    Bottom line: There are still more annoying things to fix, but I can read my book completely normal on my own reader.

    Grr... Sleep images are in /system/media
    In their Settings is Local/Cloud/Push.
    However in Storage a long push can set a file as either Screensaver or Powerdown image.

    Grayed text automatically gets an ugly border.
    I must see how to defeat this.

    Edit: This came with a "cover", a thin plastic shell with a front flap.
    I'm still making up my mind.
    It's sort of convenient that there is a magnetic sensor and it shuts off when you close.
    For now, I'm gluing a 1/4/" T-nut to the cover with epoxy so I can use my bendy foot on this.
    Some folks might like the cover or maybe glue a cell phone "spinner" to the back.
    I like having my gooseneck foot, even when I'm holding it in the air.

    More edits: It's nice that it actually is square; it sits evenly propped up on a table, unlike the Glow2 with the USB jack lump.
    If your reader can use VOLUME_UP (or be made to) as a page turn, a cheap $1 Chinese selfie clicker will turn pages for you.
    I'm kind of beginning to like this.
    Still, Android 10 is a much bigger mountain than 4.4 to bulldoze.

    Yet more edits: It has a locked bootloader.
    Code:
    C:\>fastboot getvar secure
    secure: no
    C:\>fastboot getvar unlocked
    unlocked: yes
    It does have some sort of recovery, but no ADB on it.
    It has an annoying tendency to turn off ADB all the time.
    The latest update 2021-03-17 3.1 fixed that.
    The cover is magnetic, but the body is not magnetic to keep it closed

    More edits: For some reason the stock Launcher2 installs correctly but is never seen and can't be activated.
    So I wrote my own (extremely primitive) launcher and that works fine.
    It's better than looking at the Onyx stuff.
    1
    What are the odds of getting xda to start a forum for the device (or at least the Boox family)? I've never investigated the process.
    I made a request a week ago.

    I think once we get the Poke3 rooted it will really be a thing.
    As it's Android 10 we'll want a system-less root like Magisk.

    It seems lazy, but I really like my clicker.
    You can set your Poke3 up somewhere and leave your hands elsewhere.

    Edit: Eh, made my launcher a bit prettier-like.
    I did get stock launcher to run but it's all wacked out (due to Onyx customization somewhere).
    Onyx also pm disables and pm hides some apps based on unknown criteria.
  • 1
    If you haven't played with it yet, the Touch-1.0.apk (in the sig) works on the NST and will show you how/where the beams of IR go.
    It can be helpful to see where dirt or distortion of the bezel is making it difficult for touches to be registered correctly.
    1
    Thanks to Renate for clarification how that technology works and especially for the added link. There they describe even better tech that is awesome (ACeP) but still overpriced today. Few years from now I expect it to become standard.

    Also thanks to Pajama man for bursting the sales pitch from Onyx about it being "open". Well I guess it is more open then stock NST but not according to today standard.

    As far as page turners, digitizers or other added bonus to a e-reader...heck I would like someone to cobble together a device that wouldn't have to use additional gadgets to make it better. Pen or voice input would be perfect but I agree that we seems to be just a little short to make it a reality. We can dream about it though there is nothing wrong with that. Tech progress is getting us to the point where we will be able to use devices the way we are used to and not conform ourselves to the ability of the devices. For example Fujitsu Quadreno have models A4 and A5 which imply that manufacturers are aware of the user preferences for acceptable screen size but yet so far they were not able to make a device at affordable price to fit inside that niche.

    At the end I wish everyone that follow this thread good riddance of the past year and hopefully better new year.
    1
    This is another weird, niche use-case but does dropbox-sync or similar still work on the NST? How about usb keyboards? Some of us used to use NSTs as electronic typewriters back in the day. I'd take notes on it and save documents to my dropbox for syncing later. I'm not somewhere with the old keyboard I used to use because of pandemic related reasons, so I can't test myself, but if there's an app that can still run on the ancient android version and authenticate with the server, that could be something.
    The last time I checked Dropbox it was still working, but it's been awhile. For a time they were sending out messages saying it would stop working at such-and-such a time, but that time passed and it was still working.
    1
    How about usb keyboards?
    Yes, you can get a USB keyboard to work with the NST.
    You need an OTG adapter and UsbMode.apk (in the sig).
    It's easy to get working with a back powering USB hub and possible (and problematic) without one.
    1
    For the record, when I follow the click and drag instructions to the "Nook" drive, where the update zip goes is /media. Windows doesn't mount the root folder of the drive.

    That said, you're clearly right about needing to reset. I'll follow your instructions accordingly.

    Also, I did mean 1.2.1. My impression from an earlier post of yours was that the 1.2.2 was more trouble than it's worth - is that no longer the case?
    If your device was running fine and you didn't have any reason to contact B&N, blah, blah, blah, then there would be very little reason to update--especially since you have to do a factory reset. That is not your situation. Since you are going to do a factory reset it makes sense to update to 1.2.2.

    You are right about /media, but coming from a reset my instructions are just a little more direct. Never quite sure what people know or don't know :)
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