Hacking the Pandigital Novel (video)

Second  Update: These instructions were written back in July 2011, and they stopped being valid by the first of August 2011 (the process got a lot easier and now gives you better results). You can find the new instructions here. Trust me, you’ll want to use the new instructions.

Update: When I originally wrote this, I obviously wasn’t clear in certain details. Several of the articles written about this hack have said that I did all the work. This is not true, nor was I trying to claim credit. Credit goes to a particular SlateDroid member by the name of “meth”.

A couple weeks back I said I was going to try to root my Novel. Sorry about the delay. The process wasn’t functional until Thursday night, and it wasn’t until Saturday morning that it was actually worth bothering with.

First, if you want to hack your Novel then you really should visit SlateDroid and check out the Novel forum. That’s where you can find help with troubleshooting. I’m not refusing to help; I just want to do it in a forum setting (it’s easier).

I didn’t go all the way and actually root the Novel. Instead I stopped after I installed a replacement home screen (so I could run other apps). I had trouble finding a home screen that I could download. For the most part they are only in the Marketplace and I don’t have access. Eventually I found Panda Home, and it seems to be working okay.

Installing apps on the Novel requires the use of the command line (that’s what works for me) but the process is relatively easy. You can’t use the new apps from the existing home screen, so you’ll also need to install a new home screen. I have Aldiko, Kindle, Fictionwise eReader and Kobo apps installed. I’d forgotten how much I liked Aldiko.

As you can see in the video, the page turn speed is significantly faster with Aldiko or the Kindle app. General responsiveness has also improved. I’m a lot happier with the Novel now that crappy original software has been bypassed. It turns out that it does have decent hardware specs.

P.S. Here are the instructions on how to hack your Novel. They’ve been checked by a couple people and  I feel safe about sharing them. Use at Your Own Risk.

How-to-Hack-the-Novel (instructions)

Hack the Novel (ZIP file)

148 thoughts on “Hacking the Pandigital Novel (video)

  1. This is damned exciting!! I can’t wait to see what happens with it now. I know many Android users want a tablet, and now here is an unbelievably inexpensive one to get their feet wet. Combine this will Google’s new app tool and magic can happen. Thanks again for the sneak peek of the video. It’s all very exciting!

  2. I have been waiting for something like this to come along and satisfy my hunger for all things Android and my wife’s nagging for a ebook device.
    The price point is low enough I might get two!

    Thanks!

    1. Go to Bed Bath and Beyond use the 20% coupon and the $20 rebate and you have one GREAT price. Not bad at $116 after all the discounts get 2. Don’t think that I’m brave enough do the hack I will wait and see – the rebate at BB&B runs out in October. Good luck

  3. I’m totally satisfied with my Novel. The bang for the buck far exceeds my expectations. I’ll hack my Novel in the near future. As always there’s things we would like to see but it didn’t have. ( like a place to add notes ).

  4. I just picked one up and the firmware is
    S10_07_05B _PD_INX7E_ENG_6410POP
    but when i go to the Pandigital support page it says the latest is
    S10_07_04K _PD_INX7E_ENG_6410POP
    Is mine newer or older ? ?

        1. Someone over at SlateDroid heard back from Pandigital, and according to them all of the recent firmware versions are the same.

  5. You seriously need to install ADW Launcher and set the homescreen rows and columns to 8×8 or something more to your liking. Then you can have a lot more icons on that homescreen. A 4×4 arrangement leaves large gaps between them.

    Plus it should run even smoother.

  6. It has a place to add notes (stock), in books, at least. Tap and hold on the page, it will open a screen to leave a note. You can also highlight text. The hack gives you access to an office suite, too, btw. You can literally create word docs.

  7. Yes the Novel is a bit flaky. If hacked will it still open PDF files as well as the other file types MP3, MP4 Video, JPG ?

  8. Flaky how? It’s about the hottest device on slatedroid for the moment (may be flavor of the week if we don’t figure out how to custom rom it)… and for $120-$150 on average, sometimes as low as $80…

    Stock it does not open anything but MP4 files for video, it does handle jpg and pdfs. Hacked you can run any program that it has stock – so mp4, jpg and pdfs are still fair game. You can also add any compatible reader – giving you aldiko, kindle, etc all in one place – and any compatible video player. We have people running youtube as well as video players with avi, etc.

  9. For those of us that are technically inept, has any one developed an app that will hack the Novel? At 83 I am too old to lern new tricks.

  10. Did you see the device has been recalled for a firmware upgrade (~around the beginning of June).

    Does this firmware update plug the opportunity described here as well?

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by “plug the opportunity”, but I already had the latest firmware on the Novel when I did this hack.

      1. All right Nate the Great. How about writing a program that will do all these fancy things for those of us who are inept. You could even charge a fee.

        1. That’s beyond what i can do. I’m good at writing up good instructions, but I didn’t do the original work.

  11. I’m trying to do this on a Vista machine, and I’ve not been able to keep it from hunting for drivers and installing whatever it feels like. Any ideas?

    1. I don’t know anything about Vista, which is part of the reason why I send everyone over to Slatedroid.

  12. In earlier articles you did not recommend the Novel. In fact, in your July 7 article commenting on the new firmware, you said, “Run Away! Run Away!”

    Now that it has been hacked, have you changed your mind? Would you now recommend it?

    1. I’m really beginning to like the screen dimensions, but the Novel is still buggy. For example, last night I had to force a reboot because the Wifi refused to work. And at least one time (since I hacked it) the Novel has mysteriously drained the battery overnight (it appeared to be in sleep mode, but wasn’t).

      You should also look at all the people who are happy with it. Apparently I’m in the minority.

  13. In the How t0 it step One
    Unzip the ZIP file you downlaoded with these instructions.

    What zip files?

  14. I do not think sleep mode is off. I thought my unit was in sleep mode, when I when back in the room before turning on the light, I could still see the the home screen. It looked like it was burned in on the screen. I touch the screen and it light up bright. So is it sleep or just brightness turned down after sometime of non usage?

    1. You’re probably right, actually. But shouldn’t it go from the dim screen to sleep mode eventually? It’s not, and that’s what is draining the battery.

    1. There’s no need becuase it doesn’t get replaced. In fact, aside from the volume buttons the hack doesn’t change anything that’s already on your Novel; it just adds new stuff.

      If you want to switch back to the original home screen you can either reboot and select it, or you can simply open it like any other app.

  15. Pingback: Kindlerama » How I ended up with a 7″ color Amazon Kindle for $130
  16. The Novel MAC address is not listed on the tech support information display and I can’t find it anywhere. Where is the MAC hidden?

  17. if you want to download and install .apk files right from the device you can just go
    >menu
    >applications
    and check unknown sources, turns out it does have package installer, i just tested it

  18. The only way I could locate the MAC address was to open up the security on my network for a few minutes and watch the router log for a device connection.

  19. I sure wish you could make a hack for dummies like me who cannot use a command line. I for one would donate.
    PeacheReader

    1. Just copy the pandahome installer batch file, right click and edit it. You will find:
      adb install pandahome.apk
      pause

      (not sure that is the right name but serves the example). Substitute the pandahome.apk line with the name of the app you want to install. As long as the apps are in the same folder this works. I have actually installed all my apps this way plus it saves time since I can repeat in the same batch file the same install command with different apps and a pause in between each and I don’t have to mess with the command line.

      1. For example substitute the

        adb install pandahome_v1.90.apk
        pause

        for

        adb install HomeSwitcher.apk
        pause
        adb install pandora.apk
        pause
        etc

        These prev 2 installs will install HomeSwitcher and Pandora. BTW you may have to rename some of the apps so that they have no spaces in between. For me at least leaving spaces in between didn’t work.

    2. Me too. I actually went back to stock because I can’t figure out the whole command line thing. Where is the line? On the computer or on the Novel?

      1. The command line is located in the command prompt “box” which you can access by going to your accessories folder under windows (at least in XP) or by typing cmd.exe in the “run” command in windows. In any case if you were able to install the pandahome app per Nates instructions then just copy the “Install Panda Home.bat”, rename it (if you want; doesn’t matter the name as long as it has the .bat at the end) and edit it per my comment above. That way you don’t have to mess with the command prompt at all.

  20. how do we control volume on MP4 playback if we hacked the volume buttons? i use mine as a video player as well, and i’m excited that i could do this hack and possibly install something like VLC player!
    thanks for the write up!
    so about those volume controls…?

    1. IN PDN, go to “Settings” , then Application and then there is option to uninstall and it will show you all apps, then select whichever you want to uninstall.

  21. Hmm.. I just loaded the latest FW 6/18 and it seems to be better than the stock FW. Anyone else tried the new FW yet? Maybe I don’t need to hack the device.

  22. Now that the volume buttons are gone, how do one adjust the volume (i.e. when on pandora?) Thanks.

  23. I am able to get to the settings to adjust the volume, but I tried to download an widget (apk) and I can access the marketplace from novel. How do one download an apk onto the laptop?

  24. I managed to get my Novel hacked and am very happy. Especially since I managed to write my own “Hello World” sample program using the Android SDK and loading it via adb. The biggest problem I see now is getting access to apps. The Android Market expects you to connect via your phone. Pointing to the given URL via the browser in my Novel did nothing. I somehow need access to the real apk files so I can install the apps via adb. Any suggestions?

    Joe

  25. I tried to ask this question on the slatedroid forum, but it seems to be down while the movers do their thing… I followed the steps, but the folder where unzipped file resides doesn’t get selected (XP acts like it can’t see a driver)
    Any suggestions?

    1. You have one of the handful of devices that need a different USB driver. Unfortunately, the info we need to fix the driver is on SlateDroid.

      While we’re waiting for SlateDroid, why don’t you try to install the latest firmware? It might help, and it usually won’t hurt.

  26. To remove the Windows 7 64 bit driver, follow these steps:

    Go to Control Panel
    Go to Hardware and Sounds
    Click on View Devices and Printers
    Double click on PD_Novel
    Click on the Hardware tab
    Under PD_Novel Properties, select PD_Novel and click the Properties button
    Under PD_Novel Properties, click on Change Settings
    Click on the Driver tab and select Uninstall Driver
    After PD_Novel Driver is removed, follow the steps to install the driver for the Panda home screen as detailed in Nate the Great’s instruction.

    I also updated the firmware from Pandigital as well, and now have a faster running PD Novel. (This may work for other versions of Windows, but I have not tested it.)

  27. Thanks very much!
    It works like a charm.
    Also, other ereaders worked nicely but kobo reader. It frequently stops working.
    By the way, is it possible to include B&N noble for Android and/or Borders eReader for Adnroid in the zip file?
    Anyway, thanks for the wonderful instruction and zipfile!
    Happpy Droiding!

  28. thankes Nate!!! panda worked
    I was able to install the volume hack and panda homepage on a “virgin” to the novel xp computer.

    There is one thing I dont get is “copy the file you want to install to this folder you are working in” open a command prompt (I can do that) and navigate to this folder (this part I dont get)
    can someone outthere help me.

    I got the command
    prompt and typed abd install com.kobobooks.android.apk but it was rejected what did I do wrong??

    1. You should probably go over to SlateDroid and ask for help. You don’t actually have to install apps by the command line anymore. I still do it because it works for me, not because I have to.

  29. I tried slate droid early this am and it was down. (I see it is up now!!BUT I forgot a major issue in cpm or dos (command line stuff) I was in the wrong drive (dummy me) Duh!

    I have now finished the hack and have signed on to Amazon. Now I need to go where there is a stable open network to download my books. I am having router challenges both on the cradlepoint and with wmwifirouter–my project for tomorrow. Now I cant wait for the audible app !

    Maybe later in the summer I will try to get skype up and running

    Nate You are Great!!

  30. Nate the great did decide to keep your pandigital novel. Is it Worth keeping after upgrading to the recent firmwares and what recent changes have you noticed. Also, I hav not hacked mine yet still unclear how to reset it back to factory setting if I do hack it. And yes I know u say it is not rooted but I dont know how that helps me to know how to put everything back as it was. will a new video be coming out soon detailing these things and more wonderful hack changes and walking us through the steps of different apps downloaded installed and working the volume fix and the different home screen themes??? Thanks for all your work and the folks on slatedroid

  31. Also, could someone comment on specific wifi issues they are noticing still. I for instance continue to have a dropped wifi signal after most times something finishes downloading. Also, this is after the 7.18.10 firmware update I just noticed the 7.24.10 is out so I downloaded it have not installed yet. Also, have trouble with navigation when using web browser for pandigital novel it kicks me out it closes on it own then when I reopen it the history of browsing is gone. Does anyone have a solution or experincing same things?

  32. Hi there, since installing last update firmware 7.24.10 the browser unexpectingly ends
    kicks me off with an error when i scroll thru my bookmarks

    1. These instructions are somewhat out of date. Several people over at SlateDroid have reported that they can download and install app directly from the web.

  33. Hi

    I was able to do the hacking, however the kindle and kobo apps will not open no matter what I do. Any ideas on how to open these apps. Any help would be great. Thanks.

    1. My only suggestion is that you reboot the Novel. Unfortunately, not everything is going to work, sorry.

  34. I’m working on installing this on my pandigital ereader and it is telling me “for the application to run properly, it is recommended that you extract all files.” What does this mean?

    Being a rookie, maybe I shouldn’t do this.

  35. I’m not sure what that warning refers to.

    When you downloaded the instructions and the ZIP file, you unZIPped the file, right? You didn’t just open it, correct?

  36. Hello people I have a few questions…. Who made youtube.apk ? Why is it playing the video up side down? And where is the “exit full screen” button? Thanks!

  37. Hello,

    I have installed the hacks but I have a problem I can’t zoom in pdf files and have converted them to epub but can’t figure out how to load these files for use with ereader provided in this hack…

  38. This is an amazing device. I started with the Panda launcher but have since moved on to Launcher Pro. Its more stable and seems to have better features. I wouldn’t go as far to say its an IPAD killer but it definitely somewhere in between. I have loaded several of the ebook apps including Kindle which is where I had several books. Now I have great flexibility for where I want to purchase books. Add the extra apps that I have found, Xilla Live, several newspapers, and a better browser – Skyfire, and now have a great tool for traveling. I am hoping Pandigital adds Marketplace and then its going to be even better.

    1. I want to ask you how you were able to get ereader apps on your pandigital? I used the upgrade to android for my white pandigital, and now I cannot get any of them to download. tried kindle, nook, kobo, etc.. Any suggestions?

  39. Hi,

    Thanks for the hack, I love it. But i need help on how to put the programs on the hacked version what is meant my command line? all I get is not rec as command line? any help from anyone would be great.

    Best,

    David

      1. Aw! The black novel has different hardware? I have a special blue novel with the black novel hardware ordered of of QVC, but NO wonder I couldn’t get the firmware to work.

        Will there ever be a hack for the black novel too? It is as slow and crappy as the white novel before the hack, and there must be a way to make it better, as the updated firmware that came out a few weeks ago doesn’t help the process. I cannot watch any videos on youtube with it and downloading apps is a pain, almost impossible. It’s so boring and laggy when I look at pdf files, and reading books is not even conversable. It lags between every page swipe, and nothing is very smooth. There must be some kind of update for it, or some hack coming out soon right?

        1. I don’t think much can be done with the black or the colored Novel. It’s simply not a good hardware design.

          BTW, you have the colored Novel, not the black one. Can you do me a favor and see what version of Android your tablet is running?

          1. Hey just got blue PDN for x-mas.
            under device info this is what it says:
            Hardware Platform:
            RD101-4GB-W
            Firmware version:
            s64N_SLSB_PDUI_PD_2010_11_23
            Kernal Version:
            2.6.27
            kobo@android )

  40. I’ve got a problem because I have uninstalled the driver but when I plug it in again it just reinstalls the same drivers and never asks me to locate a driver. I click on the bubble when it starts to install and then it says your hardware has been successfully installed. How do you fix that?

  41. Guys I am very sorry to bother u guys. I am so overwhelmed at how awsome u guys truly are at the gagets. I love electronics but didnt know u could do things like hack the pandigital. Because of your great info on the web and although the unit is not supposed to be that good. I figured for the price it would get me started into doing these things with electronics. I am totally lost. Would someone please contact me via email and help walk me through the process of doing the pandigital I just purchased. I am disable and very sick. I just got out of the hospitol yesterday. Was in there 4 days. Have back problems. Guys I would be so thankful and honored if one on you guys would contact me and help me thru the process. My email is [email protected]. I would really appreciate it and it would truly mean a lot to me. I would love to get into these things.Thank You May God Truly Bless You. Mike

  42. This site has been most helpful in my first ever “hacking training” I managed to hack the pandigital with your “hack-the novel” program – it worked great I decided then to move on to more….(more is not always better) somehow in the “More progress” – my pandigital has become a Cruz Tablet – - I have not been able to get the Pandigital back no matter what I do (multiple flashes)- in general not a problem. I like the Cruz much better – problems – since the change – I cannot access Barnes and Nobel and I cannot get the You Tube hacking that was working on the Pandigital – working on the Cruz. I am able to access kindle and FBReader, and Borders – so have plenty of books. I also have more games and apts than I ever thought possible. The New Pandigital/Cruz I have is great – WiFi is funky – but I think I have read this is a problem with the Droid anyway. So Kudos to all who have worked on this Hack.
    Thank-you

    1. Thanks you for the compliment. Also, thanks for mentioning that you had trouble with going back. I updated the post with the correct instructions.

  43. Well, I tried renaming the pandigital firmware – but still get the little green guys with the triangle and exclamation point. I don’t mind having just the Cruz – but in some ways liked your original hack better (better WiFi and had access to Barnes and Noble) Is there a Pandigital original firmware anywhere I can access – if I choose to go back to Pandigital? Thanks

    1. Huh. That’s how I was told over at SlateDroid to switch back to the Pandigital firmware. I really thought it would work

      1. No Problem – I will keep searching. The only reason I was trying to go back was due to WiFi being so sluggish, wanting You Tube and wanting Barnes and Noble. Any thoughts on how I can get those things on the coverted PanCruz???

  44. Nate !!! I finally got it to work !! I loaded the new Cruz firmware on the tablet and it works great .. The only thing I am finding is that you really do have to touch the screen firmly to get a response .. Other than that it it working great ..

    Thank you sooooooooooooooo much for the help ..

  45. I hacked my novel (first timer), worked great. Downloaded app’s, etc. How do I delete an app that I downloaded? I used the ‘edit’ feature after changing the file name from install panda home (as instructed). downloading files with ‘adb install (file).apk
    I tried the opposite ‘adb uninstal…’ but that didn’t work. How do I delete apps off of the hacked pandigital novel? Thanks so much, you all are absolutly TERRIFIC!

      1. Figured it out-yes under the settings. However, now it’s not powering on at all…. Got it plugged in, no light, nada. Was working fine, plugged it in, went to eat, came back – dead. Any thoughts Nate?

        1. This sounds like just your normal Android tablet buggyness and not something to do with the firmware hack.

          I’d unplug the battery in order to force a reset. There’s also a reset button, but it’s inside a hole and it’s really hard to press.

          1. My first tablet.. I’m a virgin :-) I thought about the reset button (can usually get it with a needle), but didn’t know if it would resent back to pandigital factory reset. Where is the battery? I don’t see anywhere to open. I only have the plug to charge it… I’ll try the reset now. Thanks so much for the assistance.

  46. Hey nate my name is omar and i am newbie to pandigital,but anyway i have done the cruze firmware onto my pandigital and it works great but i have question on if their is a possible way on putting youtube on to the novel and also is their a way to download flash on to the novel aswell.

  47. The hack seems to be easy to follow. I do however would like to know, is the hack worth doing?
    I mean, are the new features better than the original ones the novel brings or does the hack bring too many issues?

    thank you!

    1. It depends. Are you unhappy with the performance of the Novel? I was, and that’s why I hacked mine.

  48. How I can bring the eBooks which are not from BN store ?
    Can I read the russian books with this eReader ?

    1. Yes, you can read ebooks that you bought somewhere other than B&N. You should be able to read Russian ebooks if they have an embedded font.

      1. May you explain me HOW.
        I tried to put copy of the books in the mylibrary,
        using USB, but I did not find the “book” on the bookshelf.
        Can you give me procedure: step by step.

        Thanks, Vasya !

        1. Are you using the folder that already had ebooks in it? If not, put the ebooks there. If you don’t have enough room, make another folder (with the same name) on your SD card. Your Novel should be able to find the ebooks on its own.

          1. I have to use SD card for this ?
            I put the book directly in a folder which I see from Explorer. Is it a wrong way to do this ?

            Thanks

  49. whats up with needing a pop 3 e-mail account.

    pandigital works only with paid e-mail accounts,is this correct?

  50. Hello,

    I intalled the firmware from slatedroid and now I have been trying to download apps from freewarelovers.com on my White Pandigital Novel. the problem is the only stay on my “Downloads” file on the web. Is there a trick or tip you could give me?

    1. Your downloads file shows stuff you’ve already downloaded to your Novel. You already have the install files.

      Pull down the task bar and select one of the files. That should start the install process.

  51. Thank you.

    I just tried this and it was not there. So I re-downloaded it and the app was in the task bar while downloading. After the downloading was done it disappeared from the task bar.

    Am I missing something?

  52. Hello i hope yu can help me. I do not have a sd card. I have downloded some files but have no idea how to access them after the download.

  53. Nate: I flashed the Novel with the Cruz” update and it bricked the ebook. No matter what I did, loading any of the original or even slatedroid’s updates, version 4, it would not reload. All I got was a startup screen with the words “Cruz” as if it was going to finish the bootup and continue to load. My questions are: how do you determine what version of the Pandigital Novel you have as far as the updated firmware installed and why did it brick the install of the Cruz.
    Thanks

  54. Nate,
    At least could you answer one of the questions. Could you tell me how to determine what update there is on the white Novel? There are hack updates for three different upgrades July, Sept and Nov. This is the reason for the question. I don’t want to install a hack if it is update specific.

    1. What makes you think I know the answer?

      This is like asking me what was the serial number on the engine removed from your car last week. There’s no way to tell now.

      If I had to guess, I’d bet you had the November update. Store stock turns over fast enough that you should have it.

  55. What happens to the white Novel if one loads the Canadian update instead of the US update? ON the black version, you get an android tablet with eReader functionality, but no Barnes and Noble.

  56. I bought my wife the Pandigital Black from QVC for Christmas this past year, overall it is OK. It is VERY slow at everything. almost annoying slow when turning pages. Is there a hack to improve the speed or maybe an update available or coming to improve the speed??

  57. I tried downloading the cruz firmware… now my novel won’t turn off and just comes on with a black screen with “cruz”. I’ve let the battery run out and tried the re-boot thing with origional pandigital firmware on sd card, no luck, either “!” android man shows or just the black screen. Help!

    1. My 11 year old loaded the Cruz firmware update and had it working for a couple of weeks. Now it just recycles the start up and will not turn off unless you pull the battery. Rebooting with the Pandigital software starts out with “Cruz” on the screen and then the “!” with the android guy. Anyone with a fix yet?

  58. I went to the Pandigital website to see if they had another update and I was surprised to find that they have a new update (Polaris) which actually makes it a general Android tablet. The previous functions are all supported in one way or another and you can download Android apps. I installed it easily and it works fine. The performance even seems a bit better. They even updated the PDF users guide to document this new version. I was looking forward to hacking it, but now I’m less motivated to, lol.

    1. It should already support more than just mp4 files. Butif it doesn’t read the one you want then you can find other video players in just abut any app store. I’d look in Freeware Lovers first.

      What format do you want it to read?

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