Long story short: The Cruz Reader is a significant improvement over the white Pandigital Novel. (I still don't like the resistive touchscreen, though.) But I'm comfortable with giving a conditional recommendation in favor of the Cruz Reader.
The size, weight, and screen were the same as the white Novel, but the rubber back on Cruz Reader made it a lot easier to hold. The screen calibration also seemed to work better than on the white Novel. The Cruz Reader uses the same onscreen keyboard, though, and it still sucks.
The software was generally more responsive. Page turns were faster, and they are triggered by a tap, not swipe. There was a task bar across the top of the screen (this solved the problem of a missing menu and back buttons).The task bar was easy to use and relatively error free.
It had the standard desktop, apps, etc (with the exception of the Android Market). But Velocity Micro did supply their own app store. I glanced through the Cruz App Store, and there were hardly any apps. But it did have apps for a bunch of other app stores, so you should be able to find the app you want relatively easily (unless it's in the Marketplace).
The second video was actually shot first, but it got interrupted by an idiot who couldn't be bothered to leave a voicemail message. I was in the middle of re-shooting the video when my battery started to die.