View Full Version : ColdSun's Pandigital Novel Early Thoughts


ColdSun
06-07-2010, 02:00 PM
I thought it would be nice to get my first impressions, much like Nate gave his in the other thread. I wanted to create my own thread because my experience seems to be completely different, which I can't explain. Keep in mind these notes are just my early thoughts dealing with the new Pandigital Novel and I reserve the right to change my mind after I have worked with it more. I plan on doing a review on the device by the end of the week. So here are my thoughts so far...

Unboxing
Going from having to depend on Chinese tablets for my LCD ebook reading needs has made me quite accepting of no packaging or cheap packaging. The Pandigital Novel came in a pretty color box with all the things you would expect to see on any product purchased from a larger company. The device was well packed and simple to extract. It was sealed in a bag in which I had to tear open that leads me to believe it has some quality control.

How It Holds/Feels
How can I state this? It feels real good. It is heavier than my Sony PRS-505 but lighter than my eBookwise-1150. I would have to disagree with statements about not being able to hold this in one hand for long periods of time. The device does not feel cheap and in fact feels very solid to me.

Wireless Hookup
The device scanned and found my wireless without any issues. I have not updated the firmware yet.

Performance
The initial bootup of the device took a minute or so as it displayed a nice Novel logo screen. Once it boot, I had no trouble navigating around the interface and changing settings, hooking up WIFI, surfing the net, and opening books.

Page turning seems decent, much faster than my JE-100 turns pages actually. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how mine and Nate's opinion on this is so different. I would have to compare the overall performance of the OS and ebook reading to my son's Archos 5 Internet Tablet (with Aldiko). I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula on it right now (it comes with some books pre-loaded). There is a slight delay in the animation when turning pages and a little hitching when the animation moves. Nothing at all to stop the enjoyment of reading on the device though.

The Screen
Well if you are used to capacitive screens like the iPad or iPod Touch, and can't live without that responsiveness, then I'm not sure this is for you. On the other hand, if you are like me and are used to the horrible responsiveness of the last generation of chinese tables (SmartQ, SmartV), you will be pleasantly suprised at how well this thing responds. I would say it responds like my A81 or JE-100 when clicking the screen - which is better than the others I mentioned. The page swipe to turn pages takes a little getting used to, and sometimes you miss and the page doesn't turn, but once I got used to the screen it was working I had it turning pages 9 out of 10 and even 10 out of 10 attempts. Thumb doesn't work as well as index finger FYI.

As for the rest, I'll comment and answer questions if anyone has them. I'm about to upgrade the firmware. I do not know what version of Android is on here, but according to someone else who has spoken with the company (the reviewer at Technilicious) it has Android 2.0 on it.

EDIT: IMPORANT - the stand that comes with the device is so cool. The power adapter reaches up through the bottom and can be left in the stand so when you charge the device you just put it in the stand like the good old PDA days and cradles.

THERE IS ONE THING I DON'T LIKE. This version (the white 1GB version) does not support changing from portrait to landscape. At least from what I've seen. Still, as an LCD ebook reader, this thing feels like exactly what I was looking for. Now if I can only hack it to put other Android apps on like a comic reader I'm all set!

dsf767
06-07-2010, 04:28 PM
That is just what I wanted to hear. except for the part of no accelerometer you had me sold until that point. I am a member over at slatedroid.com and I had been very interested in this device. as an ereader/andriod tablet device. I was happy to learn it was running 2.0 but if this version does not have an accelerometer it kills it for me.

Its very disappointing because I was looking forward to this because its the first android device that has some quality control with a real company name attached.

ColdSun
06-07-2010, 04:40 PM
If it does have one, I can't find it. Don't lose hope though - I know for a fact they have a black 2GB version lighter and slimmer than this one coming in July and from what I've heard it does have an accelerometer. :) I can tell you one thing for sure - it is much higher quality than any of the Chinese brands I picked up in the past, and that has been quite a few. A81, SmartQ7, SmartV7, A700 to name a few. :)

dsf767
06-07-2010, 04:53 PM
I know you signed up over at slatedroid someone replied to your post about the accelerometer. I guess lawman searched the FCC manual and this is something for you to try.

From the FCC review of the device:

Manual page 16:
"
While viewing media, turn your device to rotate the orientation of the screen from vertical to horizontal. When desired, you can lock the screen orientation to prevent the auto-rotation (Reader only. pg. 26).
"

Manual page 26:
"
Screen Orientation - Lock
For optimal viewing while reading, the orientation of the screen automatically rotates from vertical to horizontal depending on how you hold your device.
When desired, you can lock the screen in the desired orientation to prevent the auto-rotation (in Reader only).
To lock, while viewing a media page in the desired orientation, display the top function menu,  tap Lock.
To unlock, display the top function menu,  tap Unlock.

ColdSun
06-07-2010, 05:03 PM
I can rotate it beautifully in the eBook reader application. I'm trying others right now.

dsf767
06-07-2010, 05:04 PM
Great! glad I could help you trying to figure it out!

ColdSun
06-07-2010, 05:43 PM
So far I can only rotate the screen in the reader application. Been playing with it for a while. I did manage to get into the actual Android settings (not just the Novel stuff) and change some things, but as soon as I saved I couldn't get back to it. I'm sure I'll find something though.

I still love this thing. Great ebook reader so far. Loading my epubs with no issue as soon as I put in my SD card they show up in the library.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of accellerometers. We always turn off the ones we have in the two Archos 5 ITs we have. They are a pain in the arse! Just being able to rotate the screen is good enough for me (for web browsing or reading).

dsf767
06-07-2010, 06:00 PM
Just a clarification did it automatically rotate or did you have to tell it to do so?

ColdSun
06-07-2010, 06:04 PM
I clicked the lock icon and it rotated to landscape mode. As soon as I left the ebook reader (which was still in landscape) it changed back to portrait.

dsf767
06-07-2010, 06:17 PM
Well as long as you could do it manually I wouldn't mind to much (I know accelerometers can be finicky) Now its just the test of finding out how to do it outside ereader mode.

I also wanted to thank you for being great about testing out the device for us over at slatedroid!

ColdSun
06-07-2010, 06:22 PM
Its my pleasure. You might notice if you look around here, its what I do. :)

fjtorres
06-07-2010, 09:34 PM
How does the landscape operate; single or double column?

Nate the great
06-07-2010, 09:49 PM
How does the landscape operate; single or double column?

single

bookwurm70
06-08-2010, 06:11 AM
I am very encouraged by your post. What I am most interested in having it do is ebooks, videos, and internet/email. I'm thinking I'll have to pick one up this weekend.

Have you tried watching any videos? Does it take a large sized card?

fjtorres
06-08-2010, 09:54 AM
single

Thanks. Less Important, then.
With no user control over margins, text would have to be pretty large to get a suitable scan width on normal books.

I guess I'll just keep tracking the thing (and competitors) until Kindle for Android ships. No longer any rush, given the current state of the device.

FriendOfEntropy
06-08-2010, 11:17 AM
So this thing I can look for at Kohls tomorrow is actually more solid construction and quality than even the A81 in your opinion ?

I had narrowed my choice down to the A81 based on great reviews, but if the 30% coupon stacks with everything else tomorrow on sale, I might have to hold my nose at the javAndroid-ness of this device and give it a shot.

I liked the CE based players idea for utilizing my C# .NET skills to do custom stuff, but boy, if the price of this Android reader can get whittled down to 2/3 or less the cost of an A81....I might could make do with just the free apps that are out there :)

I can tell you one thing for sure - it is much higher quality than any of the Chinese brands I picked up in the past, and that has been quite a few. A81, SmartQ7, SmartV7, A700 to name a few. :)

ColdSun
06-08-2010, 11:42 AM
Some issues I have run into:

1. The device has locked up a few times
2. The menu in the reader that lets you change things like day/night mode will sometimes not activate on a single tap as it says in the manual.

I think folks should try the thing at least. It can easily be returned to Kohl's if you don't like it. My opinion: If they can release firmware updates that correct the little issues like the above it will be a steal for the price.

AnemicOak
06-08-2010, 01:24 PM
Any word for sure on if this is running Eclair (2.0/2.1)? Someone said it's running Cupcake (1.5) which seems wrong to me, I mean 2.1's been out for a while now.

ColdSun
06-08-2010, 03:48 PM
I talked with Pandigital today. The support was very good! The guy told me they update firmware on almost a daily basis right now because they are trying to really make the device sing. I got the idea that they are very committed to the device.

The technician told me the device is definately running Android 2.0.

ghostyjack
06-08-2010, 03:53 PM
Nice looking device this and seems just the sort of thing I'd like to get (especially if it can be hacked to get a comic reader on), but I just don't get how you and Nate have such differing opinions on it.

After being on this site for quite some time, I've come to respect and trust both yours and Nates opinions on devices and wll acept your reviews as buying guides. Somethings just not right here, could Nate's Novel be broken? Would be nice to see a side-by-side comparison of the two or could it be possible for one of you to test the others Novel?

ColdSun
06-08-2010, 04:03 PM
All I can say ghostyjack is that I am as confused as you. I respect and trust Nate's opinions just as much as you do! On the other hand, on this device we disagree. I have had problems with it, so it isn't just a perfect bed of roses. Still, I think it is on another level completely from my chinese devices. I also think they will get these little issues squared away. I won't say Nate's opinion is wrong, because I respect him, but the only way to find out how you feel is to continue watching and make your own judgement or just go out and buy the thing. :)

Nate the great
06-08-2010, 05:16 PM
All I can say ghostyjack is that I am as confused as you. I respect and trust Nate's opinions just as much as you do! On the other hand, on this device we disagree. I have had problems with it, so it isn't just a perfect bed of roses. Still, I think it is on another level completely from my chinese devices. I also think they will get these little issues squared away. I won't say Nate's opinion is wrong, because I respect him, but the only way to find out how you feel is to continue watching and make your own judgement or just go out and buy the thing. :)

And I prefer the SmartQ 7 over the Novel. Which is rather funny, considering that I bought the 7 based on your review.:shrug:

Nate the great
06-08-2010, 05:29 PM
Nice looking device this and seems just the sort of thing I'd like to get (especially if it can be hacked to get a comic reader on), but I just don't get how you and Nate have such differing opinions on it.

After being on this site for quite some time, I've come to respect and trust both yours and Nates opinions on devices and wll acept your reviews as buying guides. Somethings just not right here, could Nate's Novel be broken? Would be nice to see a side-by-side comparison of the two or could it be possible for one of you to test the others Novel?

Thanks. I trust ColdSun's opinion, too.w That's what makes this situation really weird.

ColdSun
06-08-2010, 06:09 PM
And I prefer the SmartQ 7 over the Novel. Which is rather funny, considering that I bought the 7 based on your review.:shrug:

LOL well I've purchased more devices based on your reviews trust me. I haven't had one that I regretted yet. :)

jswinden
06-08-2010, 10:53 PM
If it does have one, I can't find it. Don't lose hope though - I know for a fact they have a black 2GB version lighter and slimmer than this one coming in July and from what I've heard it does have an accelerometer. :) I can tell you one thing for sure - it is much higher quality than any of the Chinese brands I picked up in the past, and that has been quite a few. A81, SmartQ7, SmartV7, A700 to name a few. :)

Imagine that, a device like this actually designed by an American company! :rolleyes: No doubt it was probably manufactued in China, but at least it didn't start out speaking Chinese and have to be translated into English! Nor is it merely a Chinese item imported by an American redistributer (front company). It sounds like their support is much better than the Chinese companies. And unlike the expensive iBad it doesn't come with apps that will soon allow advertising! :p I'm definitely going to get one tomorrow.

ColdSun
06-08-2010, 11:00 PM
The person I talked to at Pandigital today was definately in the United States.

jswinden
06-08-2010, 11:03 PM
The person I talked to at Pandigital today was definately in the United States, which was a change for me.

Good! A lot of American companies outsource their technical support to other countries. I feel confident that with B&N partnering with Pandigital, and Pandigital seeming to want to produce a quality product, that this will be a safe purchase. I was disappointed with the Archos 5 IT (which I returned) and the SmartQ V7 (which I sold to Nate).

ColdSun
06-09-2010, 01:37 AM
I feel exactly as you do. I'll be interested to see how you feel about it. Do you like it as much as I do? Do you agree with Nate? Are you somewhere in the middle? I can't wait for the next firmware to be honest. I think each one will improve it.

fjtorres
06-09-2010, 09:49 AM
Did they offer any hint of a timetable for when they'll get installable App support going?
(Ie.; Days, weeks, months? Summer or fall? That sort of thing.)

I'm looking at the Movel as more of a platform than as a reader device. So the features of the current reader app would, to me, be secondary to whatever Android 2.0 offers up. Its hardware and firmware quaity that might sell me. (Plus the price, natch! ;) )

Noah98
06-09-2010, 11:54 AM
I don't want to double post, so check out the following link concerning Kohls and the apparent recall...

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=85502&page=2

jswinden
06-09-2010, 01:12 PM
I don't want to double post, so check out the following link concerning Kohls and the apparent recall...

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=85502&page=2

I showed up this morning and was told by Kohls they had to return the Novels, just like many others who have posted. All my enthusiasm for Pandigital eroded in a second. Well ColdSun I guess we might have an answer as to why your unit seemed good and Nate's seemed bad. Poor quality control. Or maybe Apple sued them or threatened to sue them. That has been know to happen! I am certainly suspicious of why a company that was so gung ho about their new product yesterday waited until the official in store debut day to recall all the units. The Kohls sale lady said it was defective packaging, but I have my doubts about that answer! :chinscratch: At any rate, I'm too paranoid to buy it now.

ColdSun
06-09-2010, 01:16 PM
Just got off the phone with them. Poor Pandigital. They can't stop salespeople who don't know what to say (and often lie to get the customer out of the store) from sending people off angry today. That is too bad. There is nothing wrong with the device. In fact, those same units they said they were sending back will be back up for sale in the store as soon as Pandigital techs install the firmware on site. That is all that is happening. Still, I don't blame you for being wary. How can you know what the truth is? :)

I will quote myself from the other thread so you know what happened:


THIS IS NOT A RECALL!

Tech support told me they are simply pulling the units off the shelf at the stores and their technicians are going in and installing the latest firmware and then placing them back up for sale. So if you already have one, or have one coming in the mail, its just a matter of putting the firmware on the device. There is no hardware recall. Again, I got the sense that they are super serious about supporting this device.

P.S. Jack your avatar is hilarious. :)

the7gerbers
06-11-2010, 09:47 AM
Do you think I'll be able to get the coming Kindle for Android app running on this unit? Thoughts? That would make it a must-buy for me.

jswinden
06-23-2010, 12:08 PM
Hmmm...wasn't there more posts in this thread? It must have gotten edited big time!

Well it has been two weeks since the firmware update/pull off the shelf/postpone the release fiasco occured. It seems to me this was a full-fledged recall and not some BS firmware fix which customers could have done themselves. I read one rumor that the white model might be replaced with a black model. But at this point I've lost all faith in Pandigital more due to their lies than anything else.

Guiltyr1
06-23-2010, 12:26 PM
Strange; I haven't heard much about this reader recently. Seems like all the talk has died down. Too bad for pandigital.. I hope it come through and would really love to get the black one..

bookwurm70
06-23-2010, 07:12 PM
Strange; I haven't heard much about this reader recently. Seems like all the talk has died down. Too bad for pandigital.. I hope it come through and would really love to get the black one..

I think there is no talk because there is currently no device. Only rumors that the black one will be released this week. Anxiously waiting to see if it is true, but getting close to buying a netbook instead.

Guiltyr1
06-24-2010, 03:25 PM
I think there is no talk because there is currently no device. Only rumors that the black one will be released this week. Anxiously waiting to see if it is true, but getting close to buying a netbook instead.

I believe this is all being handled poorly.. This is going to make people turn to a different product and look elsewhere...

jswinden
06-24-2010, 04:01 PM
I believe this is all being handled poorly.. This is going to make people turn to a different product and look elsewhere...

Yes indeed. Basically this was nothing more than a digital frame (picture viewer) with beefed up firmware, which apparently didn't work well. The fact that it has no buttons for page turning shows its true roots. This is no ereader, its just a glorified picture frame viewer.

Guiltyr1
06-25-2010, 11:49 AM
Here is a link to the Black (review)

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/25/pandigital-novel-preview/

jswinden
06-25-2010, 02:20 PM
Wow, what a piece of junk. Every Android tablet I've seen is slow and horrible like the video in that review. I'm not sure why ColdSun likes them. I guess maybe it is the open source OS. To me, I look back at the Palm TX I had years ago and think it was much more responsive and faster than any Android crap I've seen. And the TX was way outdated when it was released. To be brutally honest, I don't think Apple has to worry about much competition from Android, even though the iOS is crappy and more of a toy than a true OS! Plus like I stated earlier in another post, if they want to market it as an ereader it really needs at least two buttons for page turning. That unresponsive swipe is a killer. Even the iPad needs a couple of buttons and its screen is very reponsive.

AnemicOak
06-25-2010, 09:14 PM
Too bad HTC doesn't make an Android tablet.

ColdSun
06-25-2010, 11:57 PM
I like the device, but I still enjoy my netbook far more. My opinion was that the Nate's review was a little harsh, but I'm not sure where you got the idea I am this huge fan of the device. It works better than my SmartV7 with Android (but by comparison that isn't saying much). I didn't even have as much problem with mine and its screen compared to the video of the black model shown above. Remember though, I'm not comparing it to an iPad, I mean, that is silly, the cheapest iPad is $499. Not to mention that before the iPad there wasn't much else available than these Chinese devices, which I am very used to dealing with.

There is one thing we agree on. I'm not that impressed by any of these Android tablets. I don't much care for the fancy page turn animations. I don't like the OS as much as WinCE and wish that WinCE (and newer) would get more support. The OS may have a lot of software, but most of it is written with a phone in mind (screen size included). I'm interested in the Meego OS. I also have to say that Linux on my SmartV7 and SmartQ7 runs better than Android on any tablet/MID that I have tried so far (it just takes a little customizing).

I still think the reviews were a bit harsh for what Pandigital is trying to do. It isn't clear to me what is better about the black version, as it seems slower than the white one I have. It is interesting that you say that it is just a picture frame with an Open Source OS. I've got one myself and it is definately no picture frame. On the other hand, I bet their marketing department is not dealing with this well and customers will definately use this as excuse to excuse them from the playing field. If anything, they deserve credit for making such an interesting, if underperforming, device. In its current condition, it won't be replacing even a Nook, much less an iPad.

For what its worth, I think the market passed the 7" netbook factor by too quickly. I love how my 10" netbook sits on its own - I don't have to hold it. I can place it on my lap, next to me in bed, on my desk next to me, or just about anywhere else I can find a flat surface. I've been looking at these little WinCE 7" netbooks on eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260625594826&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:VRI). I could fork out $89 for a WinCE device that could sit on its own and I could use it to read. I doubt I would use it for anything else (since my real netbook is so much better), but it might be a more portable version of my netbook. I don't know, I really don't NEED it, but I feel like playing with the little thing. I could actually write some cool little programs for it, especially since it has 6.0 R3 (silverlight support). I wonder if they will offer an image with Embedded 7?

Nate was right though. The SmartQ7 is a better ebook reader than the Pandigital, at least in the PD's current shape, and only when the SQ7 is running Linux. Until PD can update that firmware it will remain this way, but the PD has the hardware to perform much better than it does.

Maybe the Android tablet market will get better with the Ramos W7 and other capacitive versions coming out. The only thing is that they will also be more expensive.

EDIT: Hrmm. I might get this one instead. It is a little more expensive, but looks like a cool toy to play with. I can use VS2008 to develop something for it. It would be interesting to find out if I could mod it to use a touchscreen hehe. http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-7-Mini-Netbook-WIFI-Windows-2GB-HD-533Mhz-256M-/220626842547?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item335e6273b3 BTW these are just musings - nothing to take serious for anyone else considering a new purchase. I guess it is only a little over 1 pound in weight and quite a bit smaller than my 10" netbook. Guess I'll find out.

ColdSun
06-26-2010, 12:02 AM
Too bad HTC doesn't make an Android tablet.

You can bet if they did you would have to sign up for an expensive phone plan or pay $1000 bucks for it. :(

AnemicOak
06-26-2010, 02:25 AM
You can bet if they did you would have to sign up for an expensive phone plan or pay $1000 bucks for it. :(

Unfortunately that's probably true. They just seem to "get" android more than some of the others. The versions that I've used that they've 'tweaked' for their phones runs quite well.