Requiem for the Pandigital Novel 9″ 3G Tablet
Pandigital has been selling Android Tablets and eReaders for the past 18 months, and in that time they have released a dozen or more models (it depends on how you count them). Some drew wide attention, while others disappeared from the market with hardly a ripple.
The tablet I have today definitely falls into the 2nd category. It is Pandigital’s second 9″ Android tablet, and it is the only one with a 3G connection.
Pandigital announced this tablet in late 2010 and it was the centerpiece of their CES 2011 media push. But even with all this attention, it was only briefly on the market in early 2011 before vanishing without a review or much notice.
I myself missed it hitting the market and I only made a token effort to get a review unit. To be honest I wasn’t all that interested; I had already reviewed the Wifi equipped Novel 9″, and the 3G model was said to be identical.
But later in 2011 I noticed that this tablet was available on Ebay via a reseller. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I bought one. My total cost was $165, which I think is ridiculously over priced.
I couldn’t find any reliable info online, so I figured this might be worth a post. I wanted to find out a number of details like if the 3G still worked, the exact details on this tablet, and whether the hacked firmware for the Wifi model would work on the 3G model (no).
Yes, the 3G connection works. I was able to navigate to the B&N Nook store over the connection, but not anywhere else. This was what Pandigital promised when they announced the tablet, so I’m not surprised. Also, after some digging I learned that Pandigital will even sell pay as you go ATT data plans for this tablet. They are ridiculously overpriced ($10 for 13MB) but they are still available. FYI: ATT will sell you 1GB of data for your new iPad for $20, which should give you an idea of how bad of a deal Pandigital offered.
As far as I can tell, the 3G model looks to have abilities similar to the Wifi model. It appears to have the same FCC ID and an identical look and feel. It’s running the same version of Android and ships with what looks to be the same set of apps.
But, as much as the two 9″ tablets might look the same they are not based on identical hardware. It turns out that a firmware for one device will not work on the other. I tried to install the hacked firmware on this tablet and now the tablet is fucked.
The orientation is screwed up in strange ways, giving the screen a bizarre looking low-res look. The touchscreen sensor is also screwed up, and it takes some guessing for me to be able to hit the right spot. And the 4 buttons stopped working after the update, too.
I’ve checked, and there’s no firmware for this tablet. So at this point I am stuck with a busted up tablet which I probably won’t be able to replace. Pandigital doesn’t have the best customer service.
So if you’re thinking of trying what I just did, don’t. It won’t work.
And while you could get this tablet and not hack it, I would recommend the Wifi model over the 3G model. The former has a hacked firmware which adds Android Market. That adds a lot of value to a budget tablet.