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.

Again.

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.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

46 Comments

  1. Ken8 July, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  2. Mike Cane8 July, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  3. Rich M.8 July, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  4. John Chilson9 July, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Greenwyvern31 July, 2010

      “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.

      Reply
  5. Ron14 July, 2010

    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!

    Reply
  6. Don Bilbrey15 July, 2010

    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?).

    Reply
    1. Joseph A24 July, 2010

      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?

      Reply
      1. Greenwyvern31 July, 2010

        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.

        Reply
  7. […] Nate over at The Digital Reader found the latest update, released on July 4, improved on some of the shortcomings of the Novel, but still left it very crash prone. […]

    Reply
    1. richard fischer1 July, 2011

      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.

      Reply
      1. Nate Hoffelder1 July, 2011

        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.

        Reply
      2. Nate Hoffelder1 July, 2011

        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.

        Reply
  8. SHANEELE18 July, 2010

    HOW DO YOU UNFREEZE IT?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great18 July, 2010

      There’s a reset button on the upper edge. You’ll need a pin or straightened paperclip to press it.

      Reply
    2. drastik24 May, 2011

      just keep pressing the off button till it turns off and then turn it on again

      Reply
  9. Alicia zimmerman23 July, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great23 July, 2010

      No, you can expand the storage (Flash), not memory (RAM).

      Reply
  10. Greenwyvern31 July, 2010

    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!

    Reply
  11. Is the black PDN smaller than the white one?10 August, 2010

    […] It seems Nate is not thrilled with the PDN at this point… Pandigital Novel is still a POS (video) | The Digital Reader 😀 I imagine that's part of why we haven't heard much about the black. NOW WITH MODERATOR […]

    Reply
  12. Kinga10 August, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  13. […] Nook (see why) ECTACO jetBook Aluratek Libre Augen The Book Pandigital Novel (both models — white and black) Cruz Reader All the other crap coming […]

    Reply
  14. Rachel17 November, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  15. jaxuser7 December, 2010

    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.)

    Reply
    1. Nate the great7 December, 2010

      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.

      Reply
      1. jaxuser10 December, 2010

        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?

        Reply
        1. Nate the great10 December, 2010

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

          Other than that, I don’t know.

          Reply
  16. jaxuser7 December, 2010

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

    Reply
  17. jaxuser10 December, 2010

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

    Reply
    1. Nate the great10 December, 2010

      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.

      Reply
      1. jaxuser13 December, 2010

        I found it. It worked. Didn’t have to pull the battery. Thanks for all your help.

        Reply
  18. yoyo15 December, 2010

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

    Reply
  19. ripper26 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  20. ripper26 December, 2010

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

    Reply
  21. Supertechster31 December, 2010

    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, (http://support.mirror.pandigital.net:8080/Support/Products/PandigitalNovel/PRD07T10WWH7-7-00/FW/S10_11_19_K_PD_INX7E_ENG_6410POP.zip) 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. http://support.mirror.pandigital.net:8080/Support/Products/PandigitalNovel/PRD07T10WWH7-7-00/FW/S10_11_19_K_PD_INX7E_ENG_6410POP.zip

    Cheers!

    Reply
  22. KenD16 January, 2011

    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.

    Reply
  23. Dex11 March, 2011

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great11 March, 2011

      I wish you’d noticed the date on this post. It’s from August of last year.

      Reply
  24. Raj15 March, 2011

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great15 March, 2011

      It’s the same hardware, so no I haven’t tried it yet.

      Reply
  25. Raj15 March, 2011
    Reply
    1. Nate the great15 March, 2011

      That’s the older black Novel, and it even has the really old e-reader firmware on it. I’m surprised PD sent it to him.

      Reply
  26. mike2 May, 2011

    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

    Reply
  27. Katie30 May, 2011

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

    Reply
    1. vbquoc7 December, 2011

      Actually after run z4root, my 9″ pandigital novel did not work anymore.
      It auto restart after 5 -6 seconds.
      Some one here can help me.
      Thank

      Reply
  28. Andrew22 April, 2012

    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.

    Reply

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