Pandigital Novel: A Color eBook Reader that Runs Android Apps
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First and foremost the Pandigital Novel is a color ebook reader. Its 7-inch color resistive display (meaning you have to exert some pressure) provides a very appealing view of the Barnes & Noble online bookstore and a nice showcase for your library. You can even create bookshelves to categorize your titles. The model I saw was a pre-production unit, so everything wasn't working. That said, reading is similar to using the ebook reader apps found on the iPad, though swiping to turn a page is more cumbersome with the resistive screen.
What sets the Pandigital Novel apart from other ereaders, though, is its operating system–Android. When the Novel ships next month ($199), it will come loaded with a web browser, an alarm clock, calendar, a few games, a photo and movie viewer and music player (yes you can read and listen to music). But in a few months, Pandigital will release a firmware update that will let the Novel support the thousands of apps developed for Android, making it an entry-level iPad competitor in the tablet computer market.
The Novel has built-in Wi-Fi, a 4-hour battery (or 6 with Wi-Fi off) and 1GB of internal memory, which is expandable via its SD card slot. It also comes with a stand so you can use the device as a picture frame while charging.
Below you'll see video I shot of the Novel last week in its optional case, which also comes in red and black. The initial device will be white, with a 2GB black model to follow.
UPDATE: June 10. 2009 - There was so many great questions brought up in the discussion below that we asked forum that we asked Jason Topel, Pandigital's VP of Marketing and Product Development, to help clarify. Here's what he had to say:
Hi Everyone – Sorry for the delayed response. Thank you for the forum Suzanne and for the excitement/support from everyone. I’ll look to answer as many comments and questions as possible.
It runs Android 2.0 but Pandigital couldn’t confirm whether it would run the Kindle app….. Also, returning to my quest to learn more about Android, I read somewhere that Google only makes Android apps available for phones—does that mean that despite this Android OS on the Novel, buyers won’t be able to download new apps until Google decides otherwise?
The initial release of the device will not run external apps. We are engaged and pursuing on multiple fronts the goal of including support of the Android Marketplace and the loading of apps in a future firmware (FW) update.
What about PDF’s, mobi & txt files?... Also, any plans to make it work with PDB eReader files?...
In addition to the PDF and EPUB file types, we are working to broaden the native file format support.
I assume then that you could also run Google chrome browser on this device too or is that the browser it comes pre-loaded with?
The Pandigital Novel uses an Android browser –not officially Chrome.
The features of 2.2 are outstanding, and if this $200 device can support Android 2.2, you’re in for a real treat!.... ? I don’t recall the hardware specs, but curious if a 2.2 update will be made available (or can we install our own manual update of it)….
Agreed – we’re working on it….
if multi-touch isn’t supported (not sure?)
Sorry –not at this time.
I’m not sure what Firmware upgrade this is for the Novel, but I’m curious if anybody else has seen this page or knows further details.
The FW updates are being released regularly to further improve the device performance –with future updates planned for adding further functionality.
Sorry….Need to skip-ahead some posts here. I’ll look to come back and catch those questions I’ve missed soon.
From George Malley on June 06, 2010 :: 7:38 pm
2. the white DOES NOT support landscape orientation, but the black will.
We encountered an issue which arose over time/circumstances. Both the white and the black builds support landscape orientation and this will be activated again in a future firmware update.
3. The black 2gb model will be avail in “late July”
Please look for our press release on this product in a few weeks.
4. The black 2gb model is not merely a different color and with an extra gig. I had asked “since a 4 GB SD card could usually be purchased for around $10, how much more could a 2GB model be over a 1gb. The black one is thinner, lighter, has a smaller (or no) lip/raised edge (thus thinner) and is more advanced tech than the white. For example, it will support landscape reading and more.
The black model will provide an option to users who may prefer the matt-finish screen instead of the edge-to-edge glass styling. Feature-wise they will be comparable.
5. Neither the white nor black will have the physical hardware capable of supporting a cell connection in the future (ie edge or 3g)
Our current plans do not include a cellular model in this size.
6. Neither has a browser that supports flash or java
Correct – We are working toward an Android 2.2 update which will incorporate HTML5 as our avenue for a richer web browsing experience.
7. Neither will have access to the android app store or the ability to run apps beyond those loaded originally. Of course, this could change, but at present, the white is launched and on the market and the black is in it’s final tweaking and testing and neither support android apps nor are they actively planning it.
As noted above - The initial release of the device will not run external apps. We are engaged and pursuing on multiple fronts the goal of including support of the Android Marketplace and the loading of apps in a future firmware (FW) update.