Pandigital Novel is still a POS (video)

EDIT: I've decided that this post will stand as my review of the second firmware. Let me sum it up briefly: Run Away! Run Away!

I'm writing this as my videos are being uploaded to Youtube. I'd like to thank Ben for requesting the videos. Trying to shoot them has significantly changed my opinion of the Novel. It kept crashing.


And again.

And again.

After the 5th time a crash forced me to reshoot the video from the beginning I got a little peeved. Yes, it crashed (or froze) 5 times in slightly less than an hour.

On a related note, someone requested that I test Adobe DE support just to make sure it worked. I'm glad she did because the Novel froze while trying to deal with the first couple ebooks I gave it. I had to hard reset again. Also, ebooks moved from Adobe DE aren't listed in the Library (at least not that I can see). There's a second menu for them.

Whoops. The Reader app just froze again while I was sitting here fact checking. This is such a POS.

The first video is about 5 minutes, and it shows you the Browser, Reader, and Library. It show the screen rotation. The second video shows the boot sequence. Jump to about 1:45, and look at the screen. I haven't seen that before.

P.S. I really wanted to say something nice this time. I don't like attacking an ereader in every single post. Unfortunately, I don't have a choice here. I have to be honest about my experiences.

P.P.S. Do you want to know why I wanted to say something nice? Because now it looks like I was gunning for the Novel all along.

About Nate Hoffelder (11480 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

43 Comments on Pandigital Novel is still a POS (video)

  1. I wanted to take a minute to thank you for all your work on the PDN. I know it hasn’t been easy and you may even have taken some criticism over it, but your informative posts and videos on this device certainly helped me in my eReader decision. I gave up on the PDN a long time ago, returning it to Kohls a week after receiving it in the mail. Like you I really wanted to like it. It has the potential to be the iPad for the rest of us.

    I have finally settled on the Nook. Certainly after the price drop, it seems to be the most flexible eReader for me. I have bought books from BN, checked out books from the local library, added blog feeds, and PDFs. I find myself reading more and reading more often than I ever did before. Thanks again for your honest and thorough work on the PDN.

  2. Oh, hell, *smart* people *want* the truth. I held back for months and months with the Nokia 770, then had to let it all rip. What I have to say in the PDN defense is that it’s still *not* in stores again, right? So perhaps this new firmware is to get it out there for real-world users to test. That’s a bad thing to do to people who have paid money, though (thankfully something I didn’t have to do with the 770!). If they do another update, I hope you’ll try that one and report again. I just can’t believe something this atrocious would be put on sale. But then again, Nokia dared that with the 770.

  3. Wow.. 90+ seconds to boot! That’s crazy. I was really interested in the Novel but based on what I’ve read about it post-firmware upgrade its definitely something I’ll skip. Thanks for the video and info.

  4. I LOVE the Pandigital Novel. Yes it has problems. Yes it is slow. BUT I will NEVER buy an Apple product. I remember my first Palm PDA back in 1999 and then my first Windows PDA — really slow, quirky and needed rebooting. This is the opening of a whole new way to compute. And as an e-Reader, I love it. I had a Nook and took it back as soon as I found out about the Pandigital Novel. Yes, I had to wait several weeks until the latest system upgrade. But in the meantime I really enjoyed using it to read books. So if you must have something that works perfect now, go spend $500+ and buy an Apple IPad. I really happy with my $175 Pandigital Novel.

    • “This is the opening of a whole new way to compute.”

      I don’t think so. I bought my first Tablet back in the 1990s (Fujitsu 1600 running windows 95) Still have a Fujitsu 3400 running 98. And what about those Archos tablets that came out several years ago. This is nothing new. It has just been “bumped” because of the excitement over the Ipad. But you would never get an Apple fan to admit they are buying into a 20 year old “gadget”. These new tablets we are seeing are the second coming of the tablet PC. The first came, was popular, declined and regulated to the work place (warehouses, utility companies, military, etc.) But don’t tell Apple fans that. They will look at you as if you just spat on Jesus.

  5. My wife bought one of these tonight. Two minutes out of the box, trying to read one of the included books and it freezes on title page! You’re right, what a POS!

  6. Just got mine last night, no freezes yet. After I get my rebate I will have paid 128 and change with tax so I’m willing to put up with some issues.

    I’ve also read that they plan to upgrade to Andriod 2.2 and include Andriod market in the near future.

    If they get the glitches worked out via firmware I really think this could be a popular device.

    I would really like to see a better screen (Pandigital Novel 2.0?).

    • Don, where and how were you able to get it for 128. Heck I will buy it for that price and just hack into it. Or does anyone know where to get it for 128?

      • Joseph,

        Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Use the 20% off coupon on the 169.99 price. Now you’re down to $136 at the checkout. Send in the $20 rebate and you are down to $116. If you don’t get a 20% off coupon each month just reg. while in the store and you can use it right away and get one each month.


  8. Alicia zimmerman // 23 July, 2010 at 4:30 pm // Reply

    Nate, how much memory did the One you Were using have in it? The ad I saw said that the memory is expandable to 32gb. Just wondering if that level of memory would have the same problems.

  9. Owned mine for 2 hours. It froze up 12 times in that 2 hrs. Never opened one single book. Froze each time. Almost 2 minutes to boot up….when it felt like booting up. Several times it just sat there with that little progress line bouncing back and forth mocking me. Twice it went to a blank brightly lit screen that would make a good flash light. The calendar worked. This was one of the “repaired” models my local Kohls got back on Friday. I couldn’t get it back to them fast enough. I really wanted to like this thing. If it would just work!

  10. It has been about 5 days since I bought mine – BBB with a price tag of less than $120. So yes it is slow to start and to respond and yes it freezes if one tries to do too much at the time or too fast but for this price …. It has color screen, WiFi and my 32GB SD card works like a charm for pictures (with a stand PDN can work as a digital frame). I have also loaded a pdf file (4 chapters of a book that I got from a friend via email – saved directly from email to library – no issues there. The WiFi works so does email and web – again a bit slow, especially opening larger emails. Downside is lack of leather type cover as PDN is a bit heavy – heavier and a bit wider than Nook so B&N covers will not work.

  11. I just got my Pandigital Novel and I played around with it, downloaded some music, and then read some of the eBooks. Unfortunately it has been frozen on a white screen now for 8 hours or so… It wasn’t working well in the first place and, only because I wanted to give it a chance, I just let that slide, but now I’m pissed off and getting ready to bring it back. It hasn’t even been out of the box for more than 14 hours. This is sad.
    I wanted this to work more than anything, but watching your videos, I realized the problems I’ve been having with it won’t go away. Thank you for helping me realize how crappy the Pandigital Novel really is.

  12. Hello all,

    Just got my PDN (the white version) from Kohls on Black Friday for $139.00. First, I feel sorry for those who got the first batch of PDN in July. I heard that Pandigital pulled them off the shelves.
    My experience has been positive. Got it home, applied the latest firmware. No freezes, no crashes. Been reading books for couple weeks now. Yes, it does have its limitations but one of the things I like is you can turn it into a tablet, abeit very basic (no access to Android market.)
    You have to install Android apps manually.
    You still have access to the original reader software. Just Google the instructions on how to hack it. The point here is you can turn it into a multi-purpose device. Yes, you run a chance to brick it. Yes, it does void your warranties. 🙂
    My question here is how to upgrade the internal memory. Or I am stuck with 1GB.
    Overall, I like it.

    PS: BBB sells the leather case (cheapest.)

    • It did get a lot better, yes.

      You can indeed upgrade the internal Flash. It’s a microSD card in a standard slot.

      Insert a screwdriver between the 2 parts of the back and gently pry it off. The microSD slot unlocks with just the minimum of pressure.

      • Ok, I need some help here.

        I installed a new 8GB microSD in the PDN after transfering everything from the old 1GB. Powered it back on to import books, music, videos on my external SD. It had about 600 items so I let it run. I came back after 20 minutes and found that the device was off, thinking because of the power save feature. But I cannot turn it back on. Put back the old SD, hold power button for 10 seconds, reset, etc. No matter what I did. The battery had full charge.
        Any ideas?

        • Are you sure you pressed the rest button correctly? It’s not actually under the hole.

          Other than that, I don’t know.

  13. Oh, it’s the same as the Cruz Reader.

  14. What do you mean it’s not actually under the hole?

    • My tablet (and I’ve heard this from others) had a reset button that was slightly offset. I had to feel around to find it.

      If nothing else works, pull the battery. That will certainly reset it.

  15. I am typing on a hacked PDN which I use to control my media on a mac via gmote Android and I like it.

  16. The Pandigital Novel is a gigantic piece of excrement.
    It freezes up constantly, it randomly decides to delete every f’ing book in my library, it’s just a goddamn nightmare.

    Avoid it like the plague.

  17. and further:
    the pandigital website is slow as molasses and expect 45 minutes to an hour waiting times for phone support

  18. I bought 4 for the family for XMas at ~107.00ea at BBB. Got 4 Gelcases too b/c they’re so slippery.
    OK, got them home and plugged them all in to charge for 4-7hrs
    The next day, I DL the update from the PanDigital site, ( copied it to a SD card, popped it into the first unit, held the VOL + and Power ON buttons both for 10 sec and was greeted by a little alien next to a briecase
    It took 5min to re-flash the ROM, replacing the o/s with the latest version and have had no issues – other than the fact that “all” DROID devices have trouble connecting to ‘hidden’ SSID ‘N’ Speed networks. I like it, Kids like ’em and wife likes it too. Just like a laptop without the HDD, power cables, noise (or camera and microphone) but the folks at SLATEDROID are working the Camera and Microphone issues now.
    You may want to pop open the case and remove the 1Gb chip before re-flashing as some folks have lost all their books. That chip is where they are stored.
    Couple of points. It will run, access sites and try to DL ebooks, music, pictures, vids from any sites – but cannot unless some degree of memory is in that internal slot. It comes with 1, I have successfully used 2, 4 and 8.. next we are going for 16Gb in all 4 of ours.

    The outside SD slot simply holds the temporary stuff you copy to it, and then push in yourself so it can read it. The Pandigital as-is cannot write to that card location.

    In order to fully utilize it, you’ll have to put a true Android, un-locked O/S on it. Then, you can have 3600 ebooks, 20hrs of movies, 10,000 MP3, N-Speed wireless (turn ON your router SSID to connect) and even tethering it to your mobile phone for surfing when there aint no WLAN available. 😉
    IT is GREAT!!
    All the locking prob you folks are having is fixed by the latest update.


  19. Purchased my PDN about 2 weeks ago. Downloaded the firmware update – installed like a breeze. Device works fine. Not thrilled with battery life but it has been getting a bit of use since acquisition. IMHO good value for the money.

  20. The Pandigital Novel is NOT a POS. You clearly got a lemon. The newest models are very easy to use. Maybe the older ones weren’t. The initial boot does take a couple of minutes but then it you can keep in standby and it turns on instantly. It will run off of battery a couple of days easy. It is totally rootable, is much more sturdy than the Chinese crap which are POS units. They can be had at Radio Shack until tomorrow for 129.95. I’m happy with mine and didn’t have to break the bank.

  21. Nate,
    Did you get a chance to try out the new WPDN? I picked one up from Radio Shack. Have not opened it yet. Still trying to decide between WPDN, Kyros MID7015 and new PDN selling in QVC.

  22. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. I got one as a gift in March, and I have yet to be able to play a video on it, even though it is mp4 files I am trying to play, but all I get is a black screen and the sound from the video, and pandigital support CLAIMS ITS MY FAULT AS I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

    How the hell do you do something wrong when the mp4 video plays fine in the HDTV, Bluray player, and on the PC, and the only thing it doesn’t play on is the pandigital?

    If this wasn’t a gift, I would have taken this POS back to the store and gotten a blackberry, at least those play mp4 videos like they claim

  23. Is there any way to reset a black 9′ pandigital novel?
    The screen won’t reaact and the power button wont work

  24. Do yourselves a favor and don’t buy crap. My girlfriend bought me a pandigital 7 white because I wanted an android tablet. It was the biggest piece of crap ever. I hacked it. I rooted it. I tweaked it but what it comes down to is you get what you pay for. Not really though because you couldn’t pay me to own another one. I bought an iPad off eBay for $290. Can’t put the thing down. It’s one amazing machine. Sold the pandigital for half what was paid for it and like the iPad so much I even traded my droid 2 cell phone in for an iPhone 4s. Screw android all together. They r nothing but disappointing.

  25. richard fischer // 1 July, 2011 at 12:27 pm // Reply

    I love my pandigital novel and it is awesome for several reasons.I have it updated to an android tablet.Seldom if ever freezes and it is a great machine……..Date 7/1/11
    Its the black pandigital novel.
    To the guy that wrote these reviews ,either your technical skills suck or you inept with electronics.

  26. I hope you realize that the review is nearly a year old. This tablet was crap back then. You can ask anyone.

    BTW, the black Novel(s) are not the same tablet as the white Novel. And there’s actually 3 black Novels, not 1.

  27. BTW, I also have 2 black Novels. The 9″ black Novel is my preferred tablet. It’s the one that I keep on hand to test apps.

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  2. Is the black PDN smaller than the white one?
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