Software Review: Pandigital Novel

EDIT: I’ve since returned my Pandigital Novel. Feel free to see the follow up review.

This is more of a device review than for software, but oh well. With my computer down for the a week and a half, it’s what I had to play with, and I hope you don’t mind. Recently I picked up a Pandigital Novel. Having never owed an e-Reader, I was pretty excited. So let’s see what the developers have to say about their product.

The Pandigital Novel 7″ Color Multimedia eReader features a full color, touch screen display and brings dynamic multimedia to the eReader world.

So with the prices of Kindles dropping, I’d added it to my birthday wish list at the last minute. In fact, my husband was going to order it for me as soon as we returned from our vacation. Well, funny thing about that. We arrived back home and found a Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BB&B) flyer in our mailbox. $169.99 for a Pandigital Novel plus a $20 rebate. My husband and I have gotten some great deals with the BB&B rebates. Like our $200 Tassimo for $110. Our trick? The 20% off coupons at the register. Some simple math: $169.99 * 20% = $34 + $20 rebate = $54 off. When we realized we could get the e-reader for $116 with the coupon and rebate, it became an instant buy with the contingency that if I didn’t like it I could still get a Kindle.

My daughter has a Sony e-reader which I looked at for about 30 seconds because it wasn’t charged, then forgot to try it out. Other than that, my experience with e-readers is fairly limited. So, what did I think of the Pandigital Novel without really trying any other e-readers?

First, it has 1 gig of memory. I don’t know about others, but I filled this device up rather quickly. Between the previous books I’d downloaded at B&N, all the samples, and the update, 1 gig went rather fast. I know the basic Kindle comes with 2 gig and the sooper dooper one comes with 4 gigs. Am I disappointed it’s lacking in memory size in comparison to the Kindle? Uhm. Hell no! Why? The thing is, the Pandigital Novel allows the user to add up to 32 gig memory sticks where users are stuck with just 2-4 gigs with the Kindle.

Now from what I hear (not from personal use), the Kindle is made specifically just for reading. The pages mimic those from a book to make the reading easy on the eyes. I don’t know about the easy on the eyes part. As you can see from the picture, the Pandigital novel looks similar to a computer screen with full color. But then it’s also a bit more than just a simple e-Reader. It allows web browsing, plays music and videos, displays photos, has an alarm and calendar, and includes a couple built in games. It also provides easy access to the weather, stocks, email, contacts, Facebook, and Barnes & Noble (B&N) shopping. And though I haven’t tried it, it also has text-to-speech capabilities.

As for the e-Reader aspect, I like it. Instead of keeping track of the percentage I’ve read, the Pandigital Novel displays page numbers. Speaking of pages, they turn very quickly and require just a swipe of the finger. Did I mention the entire screen is a touch pad? It also comes with a built in dictionary, which is an awesome times saver. There’s also a feature which allows me to keep notes/bookmarks within a book, which makes the review process quite nice. No more carrying a pen and pad around while reading.

So I’ve talked about a few of the things I like about the Pandigital Novel. Let me tell you what I don’t like. First off, there’s a useful tab at the bottom of the screen that acts as a main menu. Unfortunately, it occasionally covers some of the text on the screen, which ruins the reading experience. Some times I can fill in the word myself, but often times not. So, I end up constantly changing the font size to reveal the hidden word. GRRR! If anyone knows how to fix this PLEASE help me!!!!

This toy also has little in the way of applications. My understanding is the device is rather new to the markets, so has yet to catch on. One thing it lacks which I’d really REALLY like is something like a note pad. I would carry this thing with me everywhere if it had the ability to capture my stray ideas in something more conventional than one of the e-books. For those who are into the back end scene, the device uses Android technology and has already been hacked. So that note taking issue is irrelevant to a lot of people. Same thing for the limited number of applications.

The Pandigital Novel is also WiFi capable, not 3G, which means you can’t use it just anywhere, but only where you can connect to a WiFi Network.  That’s not the only limitation as far as the internet. The web browsing gets on my damned nerves. The type is so small it makes trying to touch the correct link a nightmare. Yeah, there’s a zoom  button at the bottom, which is quite elusive at times. And seems to share the same space as the annoying bottom tab which pops up constantly while trying to resize the screen.

The last thing I hate about the Pandigital Novel, which really isn’t specific to the device itself, but rather e-Readers in general. I’m one of the naive people who hoped, despite all the complaints I’ve heard, that e-Books might be cheaper than print books. WRONG. I’ve made 1 (ONE) e-Book purchase since I purchased the device. And that was because the book was only available in digital format. It still cost me $7.99. So if you’re looking to save money in the long run by purchasing an e-Reader and reading your favorite authors at a discounted price, forget it. You’ll still pay print price and only have the glossy surface of your e-Reader to stroke instead of the wonderful dry paper texture of a traditional book with the slight scent of glue. 🙂 For a reader like me who loves to feel her bookshelf, this is not a great trade off.

Moving on. Since the Pandigital Novel has entered my life, it has influenced my purchasing habits. Before the Pandigital Novel, I just picked books off my to-read list according to which book I most looked forward to reading next. I know. You’re thinking, isn’t that what everyone does? 🙂 I don’t know. I’m not everyone. Well, now I’m a bit more thorough. B&N let’s me download samples of books to my e-Reader, which is something I’ve never taken advantage of before. Because if it, I’ve put off purchasing some of my favorite authors and bumped some unfamiliar authors to the top of my list.

Like I said, my e-Reader experience is limited. However, I think a good determination of value for the money is if I’d make the same purchase again. For $115? You bet your bottom dollar. At that price, it pretty much becomes an impulse buy. Even if I later got a Kindle, I wouldn’t regret this purchase.

BTW: I think the B&N $20 rebate is available until August 15, 2010.

The Pandigital Novel 7″ Color Multimedia eReader features a full color, touch screen display and brings dynamic multimedia to the eReader world.

0 thoughts on “Software Review: Pandigital Novel

  1. Pingback: My Name is Reena and I’m Addicted to Books » Reena's Blog

  2. Thank you for the link. One question I’ve had: If I hack my eReader, how difficult would it be to revert it back to the package setting?

  3. Flashing the firmware with any official Pandigital version firmware resets the whole thing back to Pandigital’s defaults for that firmware version. Links to all the different versions of the official firmware that Pandigital has released are also available at that forum (in the “Newbie How to” sticky). Since you’ve already purchased books though, you’ll want to back up your files before doing anything. If you ask in that forum, someone can help you with that. They are very friendly and helpful over there and can give you more info about almost anything related to your Novel, whether it’s hacked or not.

  4. Pingback: Software Review: Pandigital Novel Part II » Reena's Blog

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