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Pandigital Novel: A Color eBook Reader that Runs Android Apps

by on May 24, 2010
in Phones and Mobile, News, Computers and Software, Tablets & eReaders :: 322 comments

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pandigital novel homepandigital novel photo appFirst 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.
 



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From Nathan on June 06, 2010 :: 7:12 pm

What’s even worse to me and sorry for the double post, but the Pandigital site even shows landscape view in the white model.

Arrgh.

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From 2HOURTECHGUY on June 06, 2010 :: 7:16 pm

OK folks, I have it in hand!  I drove two hours to Greensboro after three calls to the store before someone actually realized they had 13 in stock.  Plus side is I got 20% off after applying for the Kohls credit card (plus equal amount of cloths for my wife).

Out of the box…. it sucks.  Extremely unresponsive.  Only plus is that it came fully charged so I started playing with it in the store. I am home now applying the firmware upgrade.  So far it seems to have made a HUGE difference.  Firmware DID make a huge difference.

This is no IPAD so by no means do not expect it to be.  It comes with four classic novels preloaded, Bram Stroker’s “Dracula”, Little Women, Pride & Predjudice and The Last of the Mohicans.  Page turning with the touch screen IS a little cumbersome.

Wifi was very easy to set up.  Web browser is so-so, not super fast, but adequate.

Just tried to go into one of the embedded games and it locked up on me, possible memory issue.  I will get a large SD card tomorrow and see if that helps at all.

I will keep you all advised.  As a geek and huge Android supporter, I will likely hold onto this long enough for upgrades in order to run the Android apps.  I will also set up a B&N account tonight or tomorrow and test the book download.  I personally want to download some reference texts to have in the field with me.

Will keep you advised.

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From Tim on June 06, 2010 :: 7:36 pm

Very interesting eReader, can’t wait to see how it compares to iPad.

Couple questions:
- Will the browser support video streaming from sites like Hulu, etc…  Or are there limitations?
- Any feedback on whether it will run with Android 2.2 and be able to download apps from up coming Android App store?

Tim

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From Nathan on June 06, 2010 :: 7:47 pm

@2HOURTECHGUY

Hey, congrats on being able to locate it, but sorry to hear about the out of the box experience.  What is the browser?  What exactly does the Firmwware do to make the Novel so much better?

Also, you mentioned page turning is cumbersome.  I would like to know how it responds to full color pdf files and what the interface with those types of files is like.  I know it does pictures and video too, so any info on those would be also nice.

What about the touchscreen virtual keyboard?  Have you tried an email yet with it?

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From thedarkbackward on June 06, 2010 :: 8:24 pm

2HOURTECHGUY - How did you get the Novel to read the firmware file? I formatted an SD card FAT, put the .ZIP file on, turned it off, and held the POWER slider and VOL + buttons for 5 seconds…all it did was take me to the POWER DOWN or DEVICE SETTINGS screen. Resetting did the same thing.

Out of the box, this thing is useless, so the firmware works or it goes back…bummer.

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From 2HOURTECHGUY on June 06, 2010 :: 9:09 pm

Sounds like it was not off to start.  Same thing happened to me, turning the power slider off for a second brings up the touchscreen option to turn it off, if you hit the slider again, it just turns the screen off for power saver mode.  Once you have turned it off properly, repeat the steps of Power On + Volume Up for five seconds.  It launches into the upgrade automatically.

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From 2HOURTECHGUY on June 06, 2010 :: 9:36 pm

TIM:  There is not Hulu without Flash.  Android 2.2 is suppose to have that when it comes out, but uncertain if this will actually run with 2.2.  The upgrade for apps is suppose to be a few months out.  As far as comparison with IPad, I will say again, there is none barring price.  The Ipad is extremely sweet, and extremely expensive.  Personally, I feel Steve Jobs is running for Furor of the Fouth Reich, or trying to take over Fox News… it’s a toss up.  Exercising personal morality over a product as popular as “I” devices really worries me, but for that, I would already have one.

As I step off the soap box… my apologies to all the Apple and Mac folks out there, except I doubt you’re on this blog…

NATHAN:  The virtual keyboard is about the most responsive utility on the whole thing.  I have to believe the firmware upgrade was typical of shipping a product before it was ready.  I used to work for Verizon Wireless and that happened ALL the time with phones (Storm being the worst launch).

I killed the battery tonight so I will do a lot of experimenting tomorrow (have to do something at work).  Will report back with the video, pic & pdf questions.

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From thedarkbackward on June 06, 2010 :: 11:27 pm

Okey doke - I followed 2HOURTECHGUY’s advice. This is correct: you need to fully power down the device and reboot it. Hold down the power slider for 3-5 seconds with the zipped up file on the SD card.

Impressions after the firmware upgrade:

Not too shabby. The screen is extremely responsive if you use your fingernail or a stylus…I found using a bare finger for item selection is very difficult.

Video playback of iPod formatted videos is very good, smooth and audio in sync. The internal speaker isn’t terrible.

Photo display is very nice and MP3 playback is fine.

PDF display is actually very good. I read a few PDF formatted comic books and found the resolution good enough to read without zooming and they load quickly.

This brings up my least favorite thing about the device, however: landscape orientation is unavailable in anything but photo display, but even that is done through manually rotating photos. Makes one wonder why the stand sets up the device in a landscape orientation.

All in all, I don’t regret the purchase, but this is NOT a device for you if you don’t want to screw around with something and want out-of-the-box usability. The device is actually fully broken in the box. The firmware upgrade is a MUST.

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From George Malley on June 07, 2010 :: 12:01 am

So guys - did Kohls honor the sale price early or did you two just not wait?  LOL Second Q - It sounds like it’s worth 150+... max 200… but is it preferable to a nice ereader (a la Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook)?

I feel like for all the comparing to the iPad this is priced at around the price of an ereader.  While I know a guy who has a Kindle and iPad he’s, what’s the word… rich… and I’m not.  LOL I couldn’t justify having an ereader and a tablet/slate.  And by “I” of course I mean “my wife”.  smile

If I get one of these, I think I’d be forced… er I mean “convinced”... to post my Sony Touch on CL or ebay and I happen to really like it. REALLY! Even my 4 year old draws on it with the stylus (too cute) and plays tic tac toe against me. He wins a lot… I let him.  Yeah, I’m really a great guy. Ironically as advanced as the Novel would appear superficially next to any ereader, we all know e-ink is not a simple monochrome old PDA or gameboy screen.  And sadly, the Novel doesn’t support any doodling or hand writing with either a finger or stylus.

How is it for reading (glare, page turns, book loading, file types).  Also curious about using for email and browser speed. Guess there is no support for word docs other than using google docs web-based, which means no support for word docs offline, yes?

Thanks!

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From 2HOURTECHGUY on June 07, 2010 :: 7:27 am

I have not played with teh Nook or Kindle, but it’s much nicer than the Sony.  I’m usually a huge Sony fan, but I think they whiffed on that one and the Dash.

Once the Novel is able to run Android Apps you will see several free apps that allow you to draw.  I have one on my Droid Eris that does Neon Lights.

I am going to give this one over to the wife and wait for the slew of Android Tablets that are coming out this summer.

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From George Malley on June 07, 2010 :: 9:11 am

Thanks for feedback.  So you think or have info that Pandigital WILL open this up - to newer Android OS and app store.  They told me they had no plans for that.  Essentially saying they were trying to make this an ereader first, and a multi-use device second and cram what they could in for as cheap as possible.

I’m not sure which Sony you’ve looked at, but I personally like all the ereaders - the Kindle is nice, think and light, but larger surface wise and limited on storage.  The nook is “cool” and I like the touch screen, but you still feel like you want to touch and interface directly with selections/words on the actual e-ink screen.  Plus, b/c of the strip at bottom, it can’t support landscape mode, which I personally like a lot and both Kindle and Sony do.

Now the Sony’s get more complicated as a subject (not as a device). There is currently the Pocket , Touch, and Daily editions - all use the same e-ink displays as Nook, Kindle, Kobo, et al.

The “Pocket” has a small screen, no touch interface, no expansion options, no wireless access. 

The “Touch” has a full touch UI (as you might have guessed by the name), a larger 6” e-ink sized screen (this is the “usual” size for ereaders it seems).  It has two expansion slots (SD and Pro Duo), no wireless access.

The “Daily” has a touch interface, a still larger 7” screen (odd size for ereader), expansion slots, and wireless 3G connection to the Sony bookstore ONLY (and your paid subscriptions).


Previous to these there were models that lacked touch but were not as small as the pocket.  There was alos one touch model (PRS 700) that generally was panned and hated b/c it had terrible glare problem from the combo of the touch screen and built in lighting.  From what I’ve seen, the have very VERY much corrected this issue in two ways with the Touch and Daily -

1. No more lighting built in.  Intead there are covers w/ nice booklights built into the cover, not the device. 
2. The touch screen is much less reflective. Plus if someone still didn’t care for the reduced glare, there are screen protectors that further remove/reduce any reflective qualities.

I have a feeling you’ve hold the 700 or the daily as the daily, despite wireless access, seems awkwardly sized to me and a lot of people.

To me. the wireless access on a dedicated e-ink e-reader wasn’t a huge necessity as I found the shopping and file management experience more enjoyable and intuitive via a pc/mac rather than on the device.  The Novel is a different story altogether however. (pun intended)  LOL

Bt, of course, to each his own.  I think they are all nice gadgets and general enjoyable to use.  You just have to pick what feels good for you and meets your usage needs and habits best for the price.  smile

I hope this helps anyone considering any of the “bog 3” e0ink equipped e-reader brands out there.  I’m looking very forward to hearing more about your take on the novel.  We starting a pool on how long it takes to get hacked to be a more complete mini-android tablet?

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From Nathan on June 07, 2010 :: 9:25 am

Would Google docs be accessible though anyway through the weak browser on the Novel?  I don’t do much scripting so I have no clue if the Google docs or other online Google apps are Flash or Java based.  What about Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo mail?  Do you have to use the installed Email app on the Novel or can you access them via the web?

I’ve never used Google Docs, but if it allowed me to open & edit docs, then the Novel would be ideal.

Glad to hear that pdf comics load well—that’s actually the majority of what I have in pdf format, so that is good news.

http://www.the-digital-reader.com has two reviews of the Novel so far—neither good.

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From Nathan on June 07, 2010 :: 11:53 am

Just saw that Kohls is now only offering the Novel on its website for $259.00 as opposed to the original $199.00 price offered just yesterday.  How can this markup be legal?

For those of you bought one, what did you pay?

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From walterbyrd on June 07, 2010 :: 1:34 pm

Pandigital is poorly reviewed on slashgear.

> “Pandigital Novel fails to impress: slow, broken WiFi and poor ereader app”

> ” Judging by ebook-afficianado Nate’s first-impressions, you might do better to wait a while before dropping your cash; he’s found the Novel to be slow, broken in its WiFi support and significantly lacking in flexibility.”

http://www.slashgear.com/pandigital-novel-fails-to-impress-slow-broken-wifi-and-poor-ereader-app-0788613/

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From thedarkbackward on June 07, 2010 :: 4:08 pm

Nathan -

Mine was $199 and we did a new Kohls card so we got the   discount.

By the way…did anyone notice that there’s new firmware out today? I’m downloading it now. (I really wish that they would post a changelog on the site…)

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From Nathan on June 07, 2010 :: 4:22 pm

thedarkbackward

Good to know that you didn’t get robbed by the markup.  Can’t figure out why the price is so high now.

What is the new firmware upgrade? 

Have you tried Google Docs or Google Mail, Twitter, or Yahoo mail via the browswer?  I’d like to know how limited it truly is.

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From thedarkbackward on June 07, 2010 :: 5:03 pm

Nathan -

My experience with the browser last night was that, while somewhat slow, it worked decently well. The real problem is the sludgy touchscreen. YouTube is a no-go, of course, since there’s no Flash…I’m at work right now with no wireless, but when I get home, I’ll test out those sites. Facebook works like a champ.

The new firmware from today seems to have improved the responsiveness of the touchscreen slightly. I can calibrate now…heh heh.

One thing that’s driving me nuts is that, on occasion, the internal memory becomes corrupted and unavailable. I think this is caused by a memory card in the slot when resetting.

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From thedarkbackward on June 08, 2010 :: 10:26 am

So…a few more things:

- GMail works fine, if slow.

- The latest update from yesterday definitely improves the touchscreen but it’s still a trial to use and somewhat inconsistent between apps as to how well it recognizes touches and swipes.

- There was a LOCK icon that could be used to shift books to horizontal orientation. This has been pulled, which is okay as it was WICKED buggy.

- An option exists in the Browser to run horizontal, but I only saw this work once.

- The B&N store integration is quite well done and is similar to the way the Amazon store works on the Kindle - that is, buy a book and the sync.

- Someone has an unusual sense of humor…the updated manual that comes with the firmware upgrade has the author listed as Joseph Stalin.

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From Nathan on June 08, 2010 :: 11:29 am

Glad to hear that Gmail at least works through the browser and that landscape is actually available.

Do the other Google features like Docs or Reader or any others work or are they Java/Flash enabled and thus unaccessible?

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From ColdSun on June 08, 2010 :: 2:11 pm

I’ve had the device since yesterday, and while there are a few little problems with it, I love it.

I have had the memory freeze the device up.  I had a feeling it was due to my memory card in the device.  It seems to run better without the card.  Definately can be fixed by firmware.

I did update my firmware yesterday and I called Pandigital today.  The technician told me they update on an almost daily basis and by the sounds of it they are very dedicated to making the device succesful.  He verified the device was running Android 2.0 by the way.

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From George Malley on June 08, 2010 :: 2:25 pm

So guys (“2Hour” and “thedark”)... got a few Qs since you’re holding the darn thing:

1. Does landscape work in book mode. 

They told me that it only worked for pics and video but that reading was portrait only.  Are you saying the last firmware update (which was after I spoke with them) now allows reading in landscape mode? I hope so!

2. Does the email app work w/ MS Exchanges (assuming it does w/ Gmail and other Pops)?  And how good is the email app?

3. How’s the night time reading mode?

4. I thought Flash didn’t work on the browser but just want to make sure.

5. Does it come with any accessories - dock, sleeve, full charger, or just a USB cable?

6. Is the battery accessible / replaceable?

7. Can you remove and replace the internal Micros SD card?  I don’t know if it is this simple, but if so, couldn’t you just copy the entire to another LARGER Micro SD card and instantly, cheaply, have a device w/ more storage built in? Obviously it would have to read high capacity cards as I don’t think you can get a card past 2GBs that isn’t HC.

THANKS!

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From thedarkbackward on June 08, 2010 :: 2:57 pm

1. It did in the last firmware, but looks as if it was pulled…like I said, it was REAL buggy when it was there. I’m certain it will be re-added.

2. I do believe that IMAP is supported.

3. Nighttime mode works great.

4. Flash is definitely a no-go.

5. Comes with stand, full charger, USB cable. No sleeve or case.

6. Battery is non-replaceable and rated good for 500 full charges.

7. Dunno. It would be cool though!

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From George Malley on June 08, 2010 :: 3:30 pm

Thanks for info!  Bummer about landscape but rest sounds cool.  You mean they don’t charge $40-50 for a stand or dock that should after all come with it a la the new evil empire (the forbidden fruit)?  Wow!  They actually include something that you would expect should be included, that’s amazing!... sadly.  LOL

Yes it would be very cool to jump up the memory… of course if the device ends up functioning better (via a new update) w/ memory in the expansion slot that would be just as good by me.

Thanks again for info!

PS - I understand the black one is getting pushed back past late July.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see it slip back as this one is out and they are utilizing resources to make this a good device.  But price on it should be 250 or less.  Of course price on the white was supposed to be 200 or less.  LOL Obviously they are shooting for “below” big three e-reader prices (Kindle, Nook, Sony) - all of which run 259+.

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From thedarkbackward on June 08, 2010 :: 4:03 pm

I HIGHLY suspect the the price increase at Kohl’s is strictly a marketing gimmick - that is, raise the price $50 and then, when the sale commences, they can advertise it as a much higher value…40% off!

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From George Malley on June 08, 2010 :: 4:05 pm

So you all sold me.  LOL I called my local Khols and guess what - maybe you all know this already, they are having a sale on the novel (and other junk I imagine) tomorrow. The sales person I spoke w/ said she TOUGHT it was going to be on sale for 174.99 and have a $15 mail in rebate… soudn right ?!?!...  Also, apparently there will be some little cards to scratch that will be good for an extra 15, 20, or 30% of your purchase.  So applying that to the Novel means in the WORST case scenario, you’ll be strolling out of there with one for 150 BEFORE mail in rebate and best case more like 120-125 Before rebate.  Not bad at all.

Hope this helps!

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From thedarkbackward on June 08, 2010 :: 6:36 pm

Just checked the manual:

POP3, SMTP, IMAP and Exchange accounts are supported.

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From George Malley on June 08, 2010 :: 8:01 pm

ColdSun - BTW when I spoke to a tech support guy at Pandigital (henceforth PD) said that this one (the white 1gb) runs 1.6 and that the black was being built on 2.0 but he thought they were putting so much effort into making the white one run well with firmware updates, that the black would be further delayed. 

I definitely got the impression that they are dedicated to making this a stronger device than at launch and are invested in this succeeding. He even said he wouldn’t be surprise if another update came out next week and that they were aware of the freezing problem you referenced (when an SD card is in) and were working on that issue via another firmware update.

Also, if the black gets launched, or if the get everything running well (their built in apps, etc.) on 2.0 then that could be pushed via a firmware too - in theory.  Can’t be sure about that given different strange size but he thought it would get upgraded if/when they got the black one finished w/ 2.0.

Further, while apple doesn’t want flash and adobe isn’t going to work with them on it running on ipad, they ARE working to get flash on the Android browser. If that happens don the road, the Novels might end up supporting flash.  All the tech guy was saying was unlike the ipad… there is at least the “possibility” this could support flash in the future.

Still really curious about upping the internal memory via replacing the built in micro SD.

As always, hope this helps.

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From Nathan on June 09, 2010 :: 8:20 am

Just tried both Kohls here about 10 mins ago as they opened and neither has the Novel.  They did say they’re expecting some by the weekend, but obviously despite the national ad, they grossly underestimated the appeal.

They did mention they’re offering rainchecks at the sale price.

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From rez on June 09, 2010 :: 8:52 am

so, i was getting a little ticked off that i ordered my novel on the 5th and paid $199.99 and everyone that waited was getting it cheaper.  just got off the phone with khol’s, they happily adjusted my price down to the sale price of $174.99 and then when i asked about them ead and crediting me the $15 rebate at the same time, she did it!  1st experience shopping with this company, but they definitely have some good customer service.  so total price paid: $159.99.

i should be getting it in the mail today, will let you guys know my thoughts.

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From George Malley on June 09, 2010 :: 10:40 am

Anyone know if you can attache files to emails?  Like keep word docs and excel files on an SD and “browse” to attach and email.  Either via the email app or Gmail on web?  I know it doesn’t “Read” (display) word and other office files, but I’m just talking about keeping a few frequently used and forwarded reference files on an SD and emailing when asked.

IE - A brochure PDF, A Contact Spreadsheet, Client referral letters (word), Large Annual Research Reports, etc.

None of which you might access yourself on the device but could get a request to send, you know. Wonder if it would “see” the file even if it couldn’t open it.  Like how Macs do w/ PC files.  It shows the icons, but just can’t do anything w/ it, but you could attach it or mail it if you wanted to.

I have one on hold at my local Khols so getting one, just not in hands today yet - won’t have till PM.  Bad news is the 30% code won’t work in person, they need a card (coupon). You have to rub off a scratchy so might only end up w/ 15% or 20% savings… still good applied to the 174 price I guess and then w/ that additional $15 rebate.  Stinks that you have to use or get a Khols Credit Card.  Hate credit cards.

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From Brenda on June 09, 2010 :: 11:12 am

I ordered one on Friday from Kohl’s but haven’t received it yet.
This morning I went to the local Kohl’s store and it seems that the
Novel has been pulled from the shelves due to some problems with the device.  Don’t know what that means to the one that is being shipped to me.  I have been reading on my Iphone using the kindle app and definitely want a e reader to have a backlight.  My daughters have the Kindle 2 and love it.  I would love an Ipad but the price and size are keeping me from buying.  I was hoping that the Novel would be a nice alternative until Apple makes a smaller (and cheaper)  Ipad.

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From ColdSun on June 09, 2010 :: 11:12 am

OK I just got off this phone with Pandigital tech support.  I just LOVE the fact that I can talk to someone about this here in the US.

THIS IS NOT A RECALL!  smile smile

Tech support told me they are simply pulling the units off the shelf at the stores and their technicians are going in and installing the latest firmware and then placing them back up for sale.  So if you already have one, or have one coming in the mail, its just a matter of putting the firmware on the device. There is no hardware recall.  Again, I got the sense that they are super serious about supporting this device.  I just wanted to let everyone know if they heard about this that things were fine.

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From George Malley on June 09, 2010 :: 12:10 pm

So what firmware are we supposed to be using?  I heard the latest one fixes some responsiveness issues but messes w/ the wifi and pretty much breaks that.

Has anyone seen the black one? 
http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2010/05/pandigital-fcc-05-28-2010.jpg

It looks soooooo much better.  see how the usable screen is the same size as the white but there is no unusable bezel area!  The glass (whatever) just smooths right into the frame (edging).  Niiiiice! That is why they had to put “Pandigital” on the frame, no bezel. AND they are supposed to be 250 or less to stay competitive w/ Kindle, Nook, and Sony!

Still, I think I’m getting one today just bc of the sale, my patience level and mainly my luck. With my luck IF I wait, the black one will get delayed and delayed and then come out costing more than expected.  Ugh.  It’s like how it rains whenever I wax the car. 

Well, I can always upgrade and sell my white one when the black one eventually comes out, if it truly is better (which it does honestly seem to be). Anyone else thinking this way, already coveting the black one and planning on selling their white when the time comes.

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From thedarkbackward on June 09, 2010 :: 12:25 pm

Couple of quick notes:

I’m running the S10_06_07 firmware (the latest) and I’m not having any issues with wireless. It’s a little slow to fin the AP every now and then, but otherwise, we’re fine.

If you find that the books you make yourself or get from Project Gutenberg have no cover thumbnails, keep in mind that the device looks in the same folder where the book resides and looks for a .JPG file with the same name.

EXAMPLE:
THE_YELLOW_RIVER_BY_IP_FREELY.EPUB
THE_YELLOW_RIVER_BY_IP_FREELY.JPG

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From rez on June 09, 2010 :: 9:29 pm

quick 1st impression is that i love it.  no, it’s not an ipad.  i just set my dad’s up for him over the wknd.  and this screen def lacks there, but i knew what i was buying when i bought this.  the fact that it’s open to lots of different formats and much lighter were key.  will be reading a book on it later.

some things the firm ware def needs:

1. need tap to turn pages.
2. needs to sync with google calendar.
3. needs a way to keep those darn bookstore and my library drawers closed when you hit the home screen button. 
4. yes, i would love an ipad’s screen at the novel price, but i think that’s a couple of years away.  wink

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From rez on June 10, 2010 :: 9:06 am

well folks, i tried it.  as an ereader only, it’s great.  but, if you need to type, check emails, quickly switch between apps, etc, this is not the device for you.  the difference between the $500 ipad and the $175 novel is the processor and the screen.  if you’re ok with a slower, less responsive touch screen, then the novel is the way to go.  but, if you have any current android or iphone, you’ll notice the difference immediately and the frustration level will mount from there.  sorry to say, but this is going back today & i’m picking up an ipad tonight.

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From jabby on June 10, 2010 :: 9:36 am

Question for rez

How fast does the page turn on the
eReader?

If anyone can give me any info on how it
operates an eReader only it would be
appreciated.

Thanks - John

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From rez on June 10, 2010 :: 9:41 am

@john:
the page turn takes about 1 second.  doesn’t sound like a long time, and it’s not too bad of a wait, but the real issue for me is the swipe to turn the page.  it’s annoying since i’m used to just tapping the right side of my ipod touch to turn the pages. 

as far as using it just as an ereader, you can do that.  just don;t set up the email or go onto the web.  typing on the keyboard would be fine… if the touch screen were better.

hope that helps.

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From George Malley on June 10, 2010 :: 10:09 am

Ereader sounds okay. So how are the other features. Email, web, video, pics, et al.

Honestly isn’t that what is selling this over other readers?  I have an e-ink ereader and love it, frankly for more than just reading - note taking, to do lists, looking up words, listening to music and even pics.  But it’s not like a color display of course though it is responsive.

I, and many buyers, want the Novel to use as a mini-android tablet.  Something the wife could toss in her purse.  Something we could use to check, create and reply to emails and use for the web at wifi spots while out.

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From rez on June 10, 2010 :: 10:31 am

@george:
that’s exactly what i was looking for: an android tablet that could do everything my android phone could do at the bare minimum.  7 inches is a perfect size and would have been ideal.  the lcd color screen is what sold me on this device.  but, alas the type of touchscreen the novel uses is very very dated.  think of the very 1st trio or windows based touchscreen phones that came out 6-7 years ago.  that’s what the novel has.  the lack of screen responsiveness is what killed it for me.  i would’ve been ok with a slower processor at the price offered, but the frustration with the screen has me sending it back.  it’s an awesome idea- an android based tablet aka, the ipad killer, but as of now, the novel needs a lot more work.  if you’re ok with the lack of color and backlighting, i would suggest you wait for the next generation novel or android tablet.  there are tins being developed right now.  check engagdget.com for updates.

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From jabby on June 10, 2010 :: 11:36 am

@rez -  Thanks for the feedback.

I think I’ll take your advice and wait awhile.  I’m just not an Apple fan so the iPad is out. Leaving me with an Android as my best bet.  Ninety percent of my eBook library was purchased from eReader.com and Fictionwise.com (PDB format) and Barnes and Noble just recently dropped PDB in favor of EPUB.  EReader.com has an Android app that runs on v1.5 or better which is my only hope for a back-lit portable ereader.

Here is the link if anybody has an interest.
http://mobile.ereader.com/mobile/softwarewizard/wizard_dl_android.htm
Regards - John
bring8

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From rez on June 10, 2010 :: 11:58 am

@john:

no problem.  if the screen were up to date, this would be the perfect size, with a great os, and great apps as well.  if you already have an ereader, waiting is the way to go.  by this time next year there will be a ton of android devices out.  you should also look at the dell streak.  i hate dell, so it was a no go for me.  i love my mac and ipod touch, so the ipad makes sense.  i hate at&t so no iphone, but i just upgraded my g1 to the my touch 3g slide.  i love android as an os.  and it will only get better as time passes.  you can also convert your pdbs to epbubs using calibre or one of the other free conversion software tools.  calibre also allows you to sort and search your elibrary pretty easily.  also there’s a site that you can download free current books from, but i’m sure the mods would delete my post if i said the name here.

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From Steve on June 10, 2010 :: 12:24 pm

Just checking to make sure rez had the latest firmware update?  They removed them from Kohls to install the update as the Novel was very buggy.  It’s coming back next week.  As for this vs. an ipad, I don’t think this is supposed to compete with it at all.  This is to compete with other ereaders like the Nook or Kindle.  It has a color screen, runs Android 2.0 and will soon be able to install Android apps from the market according to Pandigital.  All that for under $200, I’ll take it being a little slower than the ipad at half the price and keep installing the firmware updates.

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From Josh Kirschner on June 10, 2010 :: 12:28 pm

Hi everyone,

There is such a great discussion going on here about the Pandigital Novel that we asked Jason Topel, VP Marketing and Product for Pandigital, to answer some of the questions/issues raised.  We have updated our article to include his responses (in the blue box just below the video).

Josh Kirschner
Founder, Techlicious

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From Linda on June 10, 2010 :: 12:38 pm

@Josh Kirschner - Thanks!!!


Okay, the fact that someone from the company actually answers real time questions like this and confirms rumors (the fact that they are working on getting 2.2 to the novel) is awesome! Makes me want the device even more! Currently, have a rain check for 2 at Kohls.

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From rez on June 10, 2010 :: 12:59 pm

yep, i have the latest firmware.  like i said, this is a great device.  if it weren’t for the screen issues, i would keep it.  i guess i’m too spoiled by capitative screens on my other devices. 

the fact that jason came on the board to answer questions is huge.  i look forward to pandigital’s next generation devices.  with this level of customer service and attention to details and upgrades, i will definitely keep checking back.

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From Ryan on June 10, 2010 :: 1:57 pm

(specifically @ Josh)
So when you say multi-touch is not supported “at this time,” do you mean that the hardware will support it, but it is not incorporated in the FW at this time?

BTW, thanks to all devs and customer service people involved in this product.  It is rare that a community of users forms so quickly like this.  I predict a strong following with open communication such as this.

Can’t wait for mine to get here from Kohl’s….

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From Ryan on June 10, 2010 :: 2:01 pm

I guess I meant that question for Jason (of Pandigital), but hopefully we can get an answer from someone.

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From jabby on June 10, 2010 :: 2:25 pm

@Josh Kirschner - Good move!

If the Novel would support Secure PDB (eReader.com - Android App), AZM (Kindle) as well as the current EPUB (Barnes & Noble) you’d have a huge market and at least one buyer.  LOL

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From John on June 10, 2010 :: 3:11 pm

I’m feeling the excitement about this ereader. Trying my darnest to wait for the black Novel.

My 200 bucks are burning a hole in my pocket right now for either the white Novel or the B&N Nook. . . .

By the way whats the CPU speed?? I heard someplace it was an ARM 11 possible 720mhz??

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