How to hack your (black) Pandigital Novel

How to hack your (black) Pandigital Novel e-Reading Hardware Tips and Tricks 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 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 Much of this post is outdated.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.

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.

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.

147 Comments

  1. Michelle20 November, 2010

    then have do you switch from one firmware to another

    Reply
    1. Nate the great20 November, 2010

      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.

      Reply
      1. Michelle21 November, 2010

        is that the file from the Canadian firmware

        Reply
        1. Michelle21 November, 2010

          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

          Reply
          1. Adam14 December, 2010

            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. Nate the great14 December, 2010

            You should have a Kobo icon on your home screen. Is it not there?

          3. person25 December, 2010

            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!

      2. Miguel14 February, 2012

        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.

        Reply
    2. Info26 December, 2010

      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

      Reply
      1. Nate the great26 December, 2010

        Lost:
        Access to the B&N ebookstore

        Gained:
        ability to install apps

        Reply
  2. anyman20 November, 2010

    any word on getting android 2.0/2.1/2.2 working on the black canadian reader?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great21 November, 2010

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

      Reply
  3. S Paixao23 November, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great23 November, 2010

      Only if someone hacks it.

      Reply
  4. typist1 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. trailerparknick2 December, 2010

      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

      Reply
  5. […] few weeks ago I wrote a post about how to change the firmware on the black Novel. Since I now had a new firmware to try, I decided to write a second review of […]

    Reply
  6. pepe7 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great7 December, 2010

      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.

      Reply
  7. CJ10 December, 2010

    Is there anyway to get the original operating system back? I’m regretting the android upgrade….

    Reply
    1. Nate the great10 December, 2010

      You should be able to reflash with the US firmware.

      Reply
      1. chuffman3 January, 2011

        I’m the same way. How do you reflash it?

        Reply
  8. Mike10 December, 2010

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great10 December, 2010

      Yes, you can change. It should only take a few minutes.

      Reply
      1. Mike10 December, 2010

        And that won’t void any warranty!?

        Reply
        1. Nate the great10 December, 2010

          Switching to the Canadian firmware shouldn’t void your warranty, no.

          Reply
          1. Mike10 December, 2010

            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!

  9. Nanette14 December, 2010

    Do you have any hacking info for the new 9″ Pandigital? Also, downloading using a Mac?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Nate the great14 December, 2010

      You don’t need to hack the 9″ Novel. It’s a tablet.

      Reply
  10. Laura14 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great14 December, 2010

      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”.

      Reply
      1. Laura16 December, 2010

        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.

        Reply
        1. Nate the great16 December, 2010

          It really should be working.

          Reply
          1. Laura16 December, 2010

            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 ?

          2. Nate the great16 December, 2010

            I don’t know. You’re having problems that you shouldn’t be having.

        2. Dana27 December, 2010

          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.

          Reply
          1. Nate the great27 December, 2010

            Other than suggesting that you reboot, I don’t have a solution.

          2. Laura29 December, 2010

            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.

  11. Joss14 December, 2010

    I love this forum.
    I am thinking of getting a Panditigal e- reader –to use as a tablet,great info here guys!!

    Reply
  12. jennifer16 December, 2010

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great16 December, 2010

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

      Reply
      1. jennifer16 December, 2010

        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?

        Reply
  13. jen17 December, 2010

    will it work if you do it through the novel itself?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great17 December, 2010

      It should, but I haven’t tried it.

      Reply
  14. Clint19 December, 2010

    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?

    Reply
    1. Sarah22 February, 2011

      Having the same problem? Any solutions

      Reply
  15. adam23 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great23 December, 2010

      Yep, they’re gone. Sorry about that.

      The Youtube Android app was from here: http://www.freewarelovers.com

      Reply
      1. adam24 December, 2010

        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.

        Reply
  16. Justin24 December, 2010

    Nate, How do I download apps to my pandigital (black)? I have already completed the hack upgrade.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great24 December, 2010

      You look for them online and download them. My 2 favortie sites are Freeware Lovers and Slideme.

      The first thing you want is a file manager. I like ES File Explorer (it’s in SlideMe).

      Reply
  17. Adam Snow25 December, 2010

    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?

    Reply
    1. Chris Neale28 December, 2010

      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.

      Reply
      1. Nate the great28 December, 2010
        Reply
        1. Adam Snow6 January, 2011

          Thanks I’ll check those out. Do I have to hack the novel to get them to work?

          Reply
  18. New to tablets; e-readers26 December, 2010

    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 !

    Reply
    1. Nate the great26 December, 2010

      Press and hold on one of the links. After a few seconds a small box labeled with a trash can will at the bottom of the screen. Drag the link to the trash can and that will delete it.

      Reply
  19. Erin26 December, 2010

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great26 December, 2010

      It should simply see the PDFs; you don’t have to import the files. Just go to the bookshelf menu and they should be there.

      BTW, it’s the same reading app and library on both firmwares.

      Reply
  20. […] as well, I have issues with the slatedroid and trying to install the canadian firmware as well How to hack your (black) Pandigital Novel But here is what ive done so far Installed Youtube : YouTube-v13.apk Installed Opera (browser) : […]

    Reply
  21. mar26 December, 2010

    I just want to know how to watch youtube videos on it? do i have to completely change the software?

    Reply
  22. david26 December, 2010

    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

    Reply
    1. Nate the great27 December, 2010

      That’s odd.

      I don’t think you successfully installed the US firmware. I’ve installed both versions, and the US one always had the correct interface.

      Reply
  23. Santa27 December, 2010

    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!

    Reply
    1. Nate the great27 December, 2010

      You can try adding the Kindle app (or others), but I had trouble getting it to work.

      Reply
  24. Chris Neale28 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
  25. smartin15228 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great28 December, 2010

      I don’t know that anyone has worked out a hack yet.

      Reply
  26. Van28 December, 2010

    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

    Reply
    1. Nate the great28 December, 2010

      I have no idea. You really need to ask Pandigital.

      Reply
  27. James29 December, 2010

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great29 December, 2010

      I copied the firmware to the SD card and it just worked.

      Reply
      1. Sean30 December, 2010

        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.

        Reply
        1. Nate the great30 December, 2010

          There _was_ a firmware for the black US version. Apparently it’s not there anymore.

          Reply
          1. Sean30 December, 2010

            Do you have a copy of the black US version? If so can you make it available for download?

  28. New to tablets; e-readers30 December, 2010

    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

    Reply
    1. Nate the great30 December, 2010

      No, it’s the US firmware that is missing at the moment.

      Reply
    2. New to tablets; e-readers30 December, 2010

      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

      Reply
  29. New to tablets; e-readers2 January, 2011

    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

    Reply
    1. New to tablets; e-readers3 January, 2011

      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 …

      Reply
  30. moosejoose3 January, 2011

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great3 January, 2011

      I don’t have a copy. Check over at SlateDroid.

      Reply

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