Pandigital’s best known for its hard, hard work in the game-changing digital photo frame world, but the company’s feeling a bit froggy of late. It’s latest leap is into the burgeoning e-reader market, and unlike those from Barnes & Noble and Amazon, this one’s sporting a 7-inch LCD — you know, now that Apple has suddenly made that “okay” again. At any rate, the forthcoming Novel boasts a full-color 800 x 600 resolution touchscreen, inbuilt WiFi and dimensions of 5.5- x 7.5- x 0.5-inches. The highlight here is the partnership with B&N, which gives this guy access to the bookseller’s eBookstore, not to mention the ability to share content via LendMe. Pandigital also throws in 1GB of internal memory, an SD / MMC card slot, orientation sensor, and the rechargeable battery is said to be good for a mediocre six hours on a full charge. The $199.99 Novel should be out and about next month supporting PDF, ePUB and HTML formats (yeah, there’s a web browser), and in case you were wondering, it’s based around Android and gets powered by an ARM 11 processor. Did Pandigital — of all companies — just out a remotely interesting e-reader? Yes, yes it did.
Video and Review after the break.
First and foremost the Pandigital Novel is a color ebook reader. Its 7-inch color resistive display (meaning you have to exert some pressure) provides a very appealing view of the Barnes & Noble online bookstore and a nice showcase for your library. You can even create bookshelves to categorize your titles. The model I saw was a pre-production unit, so everything wasn’t working. That said, reading is similar to using the ebook reader apps found on the iPad, though swiping to turn a page is more cumbersome with the resistive screen.
What sets the Pandigital Novel apart from other ereaders, though, is its operating system–Android. When the Novel ships next month ($199), it will come loaded with a web browser, an alarm clock, calendar, a few games, a photo and movie viewer and music player (yes you can read and listen to music). But in a few months, Pandigital will release a firmware update that will let the Novel support the thousands of apps developed for Android, making it an entry-level iPad competitor in the tablet computer market.
The Novel has built-in Wi-Fi, a 4-hour battery (or 6 with Wi-Fi off) and 1GB of internal memory, which is expandable via its SD card slot. It also comes with a stand so you can use the device as a picture frame while charging.
Below you’ll see video I shot of the Novel last week in its optional case, which also comes in red and black. The initial device will be white, with a 2GB black model to follow.