How to hack your (black) Pandigital Novel

A few days ago I posted an updated version of  a guide to hacking the white Novel Android tablet. Since then I've been working on hacking the black Novel, and I'm ready to explain how to hack it.  TBH, I don't think you should.

The black Novel runs Android v1.5., which is a rather old version that isn't supported by very many apps. It's also not going to be supported by any new apps, so I think you're better off with some other Android tablet.

Update: If you're looking for a the latest firmware update for this tablet, read this post. Much of this post is outdated.

But if you have a black Novel, I'll go ahead and walk you through the steps to hack it.

You have 4 options for the black Novel. There are the 2 official firmwares, the barebones Android firmware, and a hacked firmware under development by a couple members of SlateDroid. If you go with the hacked firmware or the barebones firmware you will void your warranty. But your warranty is fine with the official firmwares.

click to embiggen

Sidenote: There's actually a fifth option; you can hack your Novel the hard way. But it's complicated and requires a higher level of technical skill so I won't mention it here.

The black Novel has 2 official firmwares because it is being sold in 2 countries (US and Canada). The original firmware was tied into the B&N ebookstore, and since (for the most part) that store is US only, Pandigital had to work with Kobo for the Canadian release.

Update: Pandigital has released a new US firmware for the black Novel. The new firmware turns the Novel into a regular Android tablet. There's no need to hack it anymore.

click to embiggen

The firmwares are very different. The US firmware is locked down like the white Novel, and it's rather slow. I don't like it, and I said so in my review.

The Canadian firmware, on the other hand, is not locked down. It ships with the standard Android home screen and you have all the basic Android features. This means that you don't have to hack the black Novel, and that's why I recommend this firmware.

P.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Switching between the 2 official firmwares is easy. I did it 4 times in one evening and each one went just fine.

Here are the links to the 4 firmwares I mentioned in this  post:

US firmware

Canadian firmware

barebones firmware

Slatedroid

P.S. The Canadian firmware deserves its own review, so I will be posting it elsewhere.

143 thoughts on “How to hack your (black) Pandigital Novel

    1. The instructions are on the same page as the downloads.

      Copy the DAT file to your SD card.
      Turn off the Novel.
      Insert the SD card.
      Press and hold the power button and up volume button for 5 seconds and then release.

        1. I did the SD copy of the Firmware Candaian and it works
          will I be able to do text-to-speech
          Please give info about apps
          love to here
          whatever I do will it erase if I switch between fireware
          please inform
          thanks again

          1. Hi, I just did the Canadian version, and it all went well, but i’m still stuck with the barnes and noble software instead of kobo books. Can you lend any help on this?
            Thanks,
            Adam

          2. I got it for christmas too! It is a major dissapointment. I cannot do anything it said it does. I’ve tried hacking it, WHICH epicly failed. I slide the sd card with the firmware in, turn the device on doing those alternations with the power and + volume button, I see a “firmware” thing flash, but then it just blanks its screen and continues to boot into its os. It makes me so mad, it took me half of christmas day just to get the us firmware update on it, and no change at all. I cannot do videos, no downloading apps, and the pdf/ebook viewer seems to be the laggiest thing on earth, not even worth reading books in. I feel like I can’t do anything productive on this device, you gotta help me some how!

      1. It might not be as simple as holding it for 5 seconds. Mine had to be pressed for a bit more. Put your power plug in as it might take a while….mine has been upgrading for about half an hour and it is still going! I sure hope it works…will let you know. I used the Canadian Firmware, btw.

    2. Sorry New to this My 13 year old got one for christmas and before I do this what will I lose and what all will be gained I have read but if all possible is there a list that you can give me. Thank you

    1. I can’t see that anyone over at Slatedroid has tried. Most are working on the white Novel becuase it has the better hardware.

  1. Is there a way to get the android market on the Canadian version of the software? (on the black version) I would really like to be able to get a notepad on my PDN.
    BTW, thanks for the information about the canadian software, I like it much better than the original one.

  2. I bought a black PDN in Canada, however all attempts to flash the firmware (with any firmware) have not worked for me.

    I get the firmware flash screen showing the progress bar displayed to show completion (goes by too fast <2 sec) and the unit goes dead (meaning it does not automatically reboot)

    Restarting the recently flashed PDN shows that the original firmware version: S64N_SLST_KOBO_P1_2010_10_28t
    did not change. This happens no matter what firmware was used to flash the Canadian black PDN.

    Any help would be much appreciated!
    TIA.

    1. i had a pdn that wouldnt flash from the sd card or from the autoupdate on the pdn site it ended up being a bad novel i exchanged it and the new one works just like its supposed to

  3. I’m interested in the Novel for running Droid Comic Viewer (or something else for cbr/cbz files). I’m in Canada and can get the PDN Black for $160 at Future Shop; is it worth it? Or should I try to get a White one from eBay? Again, my main goal is just being able to read comics; anything else is a bonus.

    1. I would try to get a 9″ Novel. I’m a lot happier with it. But if you can’t get the 9″ then you should go with the white Novel, not black. You have a better chance at getting the app to work.

  4. I just got the Black Novel that was bought on Black Firday, in the US. Can I change from the US firmware to the Canadian firmware? Is it worth it? And how long would it take?

          1. Well, its seems like a better system…and the reviews seem better than the US firmware. Thanks for the advice! We will see how it goes!

  5. I have the Canadian version and would like to know how to import epub books from the SD card into the black Canadian 7″ colour reader. I did have a USA version, broke the screen and it had an “Import from SD card” icon…I don’t see how to do this with the Canadian product I recently purchased, I don’t see it in the new software….could you please help.

    1. You should be able to see the ebooks in the Library. If you can’t, make sure your ebooks are in a folder named “ebooks”.

      1. Nate, I made sure that the spelling and format of the folder on the SD card was the same as on the internal drive “eBooks” and inserted the card again and restarted the device. No luck. All I see is KOBO or Local for the Libraries……and I finally copied all the books to the internal drive. They are seen from there, in the Local library. They open properly. Photos and Music work properly but the ebooks are not seen on the SD Card. I am wondering if it may have to do with the fact that this card was used in my original USA product? I also used Calibre to bring in the thumbnails and perhaps the Canadian software does not recognize this ? I think I will call the customer service manager…..I have spoken to her before. They are quite nice and try to help, I will let you know what I find out.

          1. What would happen if I use the format SD card using the Pandigital Canadian software and start over? I can recopy the info back onto the 16 GB card from my computer without any effort. I just want to understand why it does not see the ebooks in the “My Library”. Under another application I found in the black screen area, can’t remember the name…..I can see the SD card contents, LAN,etc….if I try to open the folder, it shows me the contents with all the books, if I click on a book, it asks me to open as Text or others like video etc… I tried text and it gave me computer garbage…. Is there an android app I can download that would be a Ebook reader to specifically read from the SD Card? Basically a shortcut for reading the SC card ?

        1. Did you ever find a solution for this issue? We have two PDNs and both devices have the same issue. We must be overlooking something. We have tried epdf, epub and receive the same issues in the ES Explorer that you described. However pictures, music find there way into the correct folders without problems. We are also able to view HTML files without issue via the ES Explorer and we can see all of the ebooks in the ebooks folder on the SD card but they will not open in a text format or appear in My Library in Kobo bookstore. Any guidance would be appreciated.

          1. I was told by Pandigital that I should update the soft ware. I do know that the USA version has an icon you push to read the sd card. They acknowledge this is missing from the Canadian version and are pushing it to the developers. For now just copy books to the internal memory, use the sd card for music and photos. I also think that the name of the card has something to do with the Kobo link in the unit……still searching that…..don’t go back to the USA version…too slow…..I can wait for the fix I,ll try a smaller sd card to see if that will work ….I am using a 16gb now.

  6. I just purchased a PDN “7 and i would like to download the android software. the PDN website said if you do you will void your warranty and it won’t operate correctly plus you won’t be able to switch back. Is that true?

    1. Yes, installing that firmware will void your warranty. But IMO that firmware offered by Pandigital is relatively safe. I wouldn’t worry.

      1. so I’m getting ready to hack my novel and once I do this will I still have my main page that comes with the pdn? how exactly does it work?

  7. Hey Nate , I just did the swap used the PC USB cable route it went through the whole steps, I held the power button and the + key for 5 seconds and let go it started loading showing the progress bar, then it reset but I dont see anything that changed ! Maybe I misunderstood but I thought this update was supposed to let me be able to use Android market place and all that, I still see all the old icons that were there from the beginning. I have the Black novel. What am I doing wrong?

  8. Hey Nate, it looks like this site was down for a while today. All of the replies from the last few days are gone. You left a link for me on here for a Youtube freeware link……….Can you repost the link? Thanks!

    -Adam.

      1. Great, thanks! I don’t know much about Skyfire, do you like it? It sounds like some ppl have used it for Youtube/flash videos on the PDN. I’m not the most tech savvy guy in the world, but i’m definitley going to try to mod/hack/upgrade this damn thing. What’s your 1st suggestion? Firmware? I’d like to get it running a little faster. Thanks again for the help!

        -Adam.

  9. Just got the black 7″ novel for xmas.

    This thing is pretty cool, and yet it still sucks so bad.

    My main issue is its shoddy PDF capabilities and the stupid B&N store that just isn’t as good as the amazon store.

    Is there a way to upgrade the PDF Viewer to a nitro mobile one or something?

    1. I am also frustrated with the poor PDF viewing. Is there an android app that can be installed on the white or black PDN that will display PDF files faithfully? I can view PDFs with the unhacked version of the black PDN, but some things, like mathematical equations and some images, are horribly formatted by the unhacked PDN although they look just fine on my computer with adobe reader, evince, xpdf, etc.

      Thank you,
      Chris.

  10. Just got this for x-mas and love it. I will look into hacking the OS with the Canadian version.

    Got a quick quest. How do I delete shortcuts on the desktop ? I can only see how to add them ??? Gotta be a way…
    thanks! this site is great !

  11. Hey just bought one for my husband for Christmas but he can’t get it to read .pdf files from the SD. The US one has an icon to import from SD but the Cdn one doesn’t. Is there a way to get the app from the US one? Or get another .pdf viewer?

  12. Hey Nate I switched to the canadian version just fine but when i went to switch it back to the us it changed from kobo to b&n but i still have the android interface is there a way to get the original interface back. thx

  13. Ok, I’ve read the previous questions. Once I do the swap to Canadian software, it takes away B&N and replaces it with Kobo. Can I add others like Amazon? I’d like to be able to download books from several sites to get the best prices. Thanks for doing this Nate. You’re off the naughty list!

  14. Thank you Nate for the link to PDF readers. Your video including Aldiko was very useful.

    Another question: Is there any functionality of the hacked white 7″ PDN that is not available in the black 9″ PDN (other than cost)? It appears that I can install apps such as Aldiko on the black 9″ out of the box.

    I returned my black 7″ a few days ago and am trying to decide between the white 7″ and the black 9″.

    Thank you,
    Chris.

  15. Is there anyway possible to get the Android App Market or AppBrain to work on the 9in Novel? Is there a hack to make that happen? Thank you.

  16. Just got a black PDN, I tried to log on my Hotmail but couldn’t. I followed your intructions to switch to Canadian version but still failed in access to Hotmail. Can I use Hotmail with PDN? Pls advise.
    Thanks

  17. How did you switch between the two the firmwares so easily?

    I’m having problems doing it(CA to USA). I think it’s because they dont have SD CARD installation for the USA (black) novel.

      1. I can’t switch back to the U.S. version after trying the CA version. The utility on the website for updating downloads the FW for the white novel. After searching I found that there is no FW to download for the U.S. black model.

  18. Hi, Do I understand correctly , we can’t get the Canadian FW for the black pandigital’s anymore ?

    Also, Nate, I am having trouble downloading a jpg file from my e-mail. It says download failed, any ideas ?? I just opened my e-mail was able to see the thumnail of the picture, I saw there was a download bar, which I clicked, then it gives me the download history screen, and my download states “Download unsuccessful” . Not sure what I am missing.

    BTW: as you see by my first statement, I haven’t hacked my black pandigital yet. But I honestly love my US black version. The apps, it came with are what I really wanted, web browser, e-mail, contacts, calendar…, reader great!! I copied other epub files onto my pandigital, so I bypassed b&n , only thing is my “thumbnails” don’t seem to be recoginized, I just see the title of the books I copied that way. not sure how to get the book covers… no biggie really… :)

    I am a UNIX / Linux person, have been for years, I like the ES File Explorer, not sure what all I can do with the pandigital un-hacked, neat to go into all the folders, system and otherwise…
    Do you recomend getting up to speed on the Android OS ? would that help ?

    anyway, thanks for all your help, and again, I love your expertise, users guide offers, little, but unit is somewhat easy to figure out.

    Thanks

    1. update, I saved the jpg file from my e-mail and I see it copied it into my Gallery , so that issue is solved… YEA !!

      Not sure what types of apps are out there that my black pandigital can run, I see your opinion on re-flashing the OS to the canadian version, but not sure if its worth it to me. I like what I see so far LOL , aside from missing the standard solitare, games…

      anyway, wanted to update you on my download issue.. any other comments on changing the FW to the open Canadian version, would be appreciated….

      Thanks

  19. Hey Nate,
    do you know why I can see jpg files in /system/media/sdcard/Photos directory, but I do not see all of those jpg files in my Gallery ??

    thanks

    1. hum, have been playing a bit, and it looks like if I delete the pic. from the gallery, the file still remains in the sdcard/Photos dir ?? I’ll do some more playing to see if this is the case. In any event, I am able to download the pics. from my computer (by dragging the file into the photos dir) and then can see them in my gallery .
      On another note, i am thinking of getting a Samsung Fascinate phone with Android OS . wonder if I can copy my contacts and calendar file onto this new phone…wonder if they use the same APPs for those. the phone has Android 2.1 …

  20. I’m having an issue trying to get the candian firmware..it only allows you to download through the pc installation method ..and it doesn’t seem to work ..always gets hung up on the serial number portion…is there any way fro me to find the firmware without the computer installation way?

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