If you’re using an Android tablet you’re probably aware that there are various other versions of the operating system that you might like to try.
For instance, if you purchased a pre-Honeycomb release tablet, but one with an NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset, you might be able to run Honeycomb (although this depends purely on your device).
The majority of Android tablets bought up to the start of 2011, meanwhile, have been shipping with Android 2.2 Froyo, or 2.3 Gingerbread, and as these are more accurately designed for mobile phones rather than tablets, many developers have been offering free alternatives to the so-called stock ROMs (the version of the operating system that an Android tablet ships with).
So – how exactly do you get one of these alternatives onto your tablet? There are various methods each depending on your tablet type, but the best is to find a suitable ROM and use the free ClockworkMOD Recovery tool.
Finding a ROM for Your Tablet
We’re steering away from Honeycomb here to focus on earlier Android tablets and operating system versions. This is largely because the source code for Honeycomb hasn’t been released as of June 2011, which means there are very few methods of getting this operating system onto your tablet if you don’t already have it (and Honeycomb won’t run on a below-spec device).
You will instead need to find an alternative ROM for your tablet via one of the various Android tablet communities on the web, such as www.androidtablets.com or perhaps via Modaco or XDA-Developers. These are great communities where tablet ROM developers interact with other users and release downloads and notes for their ROMs.
The point of alternative ROMs is to improve the performance of the tablet. Such an improvement might be the wireless connectivity or the battery use, for instance, or it might be related to touch screen responsiveness. ROMs will also have additional software included, usually utilities that the developer deems to be vital.
Installing (or “Flashing”) a ROM
Prior to flashing a new ROM, you will need to make sure that your tablet is rooted. This is because flashing requires root access to your device system files and folders.
After downloading a ROM that will run on your tablet, you will need to get hold of the ROM Manager app from the Android Market, and use this to install the ClockworkMOD Recovery tool, which is used to install the new ROM.
Once this has been done, all you will need to do is copy the ROM to your tablet’s SD card, rename it to update.zip and use ClockworkMOD Recovery to clear your device cache and then install the zip file from the SD card.
As you can see, installing a new ROM on your Android tablet can typically be done in around four steps (depending on your tablet) and can be completed in under an hour!
(Note that the above is a general guide; full instructions accompany most ROM downloads.)