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.

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