The Pandigital Novel is an inexpensive eReader that by most accounts isn’t very good, at least not when compared with recent NOOK or Kindle devices. But it’s dirt cheap. You can pick one up from Amazon for just $38.
For that price you get an 8 ounce eReader with a 6 inch, 600 x 800 pixel touchscreen display, 2GB of storage, a microSD card slot, WiFi, and support for EPUB and PDF eBooks, MP3 audio, and a few image formats.
Out of the box, the Pandigital Novel eReader runs a Linux-based operating system with a user interface designed for reading books, along with software that lets you purchase and download titles from the Barnes & Noble eBook store. But hackers are working on pushing the Novel’s limits.
Slatedroid forum member geert has posted a guide for some initial Pandigital Novel eReader hacks. They involve hooking up the device to a Linux PC and enabling serial access and then using that to set up telnet access to the Pandigital Novel. You can also setup an FTP server which makes it easier to connect to the device over WiFi to move files to and from the eReader.
Right now, there’s not really much else you can do with the device. You can’t change fonts, install an alternate eBook reader, or do much of anything else.
But Slatedroid forum member terminander has been playing around with a hacked Novel, and figured out how to flash a system image to the device. More importantly, he also figured out that you can boot the Pandigital Novel eReader from a microSD card — which means you can write an operating system to a removable card, insert it and boot the device.
Theoretically that means that it may be possible to run a custom ROM on the Novel without overwriting the software that comes with it. This could enable support for additional eBook formats or allow you to run other apps on the device. It could also pave the way for running Google Android or another operating system on the Pandigital Novel.
Keep an eye on the Slatedroid forum to see how this project progresses… if it progresses at all. Or better yet, if you know your way around a Linux terminal or have experience porting custom ROMs to new devices, you can pitch in and help make Pandigital’s $38 eReader a much more useful device.