At $179, the Pandigital Novel might not be the cheapest eBook reader around. But it’s definitely one of the cheapest general purpose Android tablets available in the US… even if that isn’t how the company is marketing the device.

Thing is, it has a 7 inch, color touchscreen display and runs Google Android. All you have to do is figure out how to get past the custom software interface Pandigital throws on the Novel and you can install third party apps — including the Amazon Kindle app, Aldiko, or other eBook apps. You can even install games, media players, or just about anything else you can run on an Android tablet.

A few weeks ago we saw the first evidence of hackers gaining root access to the device. Now it looks like there’s a whole heck of a lot more you can do with the Novel — even without rooting it first.

There are a few catches. Right now there’s no way to access the Google Android Market, which means you’ll have to manually download apk installer files for each app you install. And you’ll need to apply a few hacks to get things working properly. That includes installing a third party home screen so you have access to the program launcher and a hack that lets you use the volume buttons as if they were Menu and Back buttons — since the Novel doesn’t actually have dedicated buttons for those frequently-used Android functions.

It’s even possible to install the Google Calendar, Contacts, Maps, Voice, and Gmail apps.

You can find instructions for hacking the Pandigital Novel at The Digital Reader, as well as the SlateDroid forums. The video below shows some of the things you can do with the tablet once you start hacking. Bear in mind, the Pandigital Novel has a relatively sluggish CPU which was really just meant to power an eBook reader, so don’t be surprised if some of the animations and other visual elements look a bit slow.

via Engadget

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29 replies on “Pandigital Novel eReader hacking continues: Meet the $179 Android tablet”

  1. when will someone know when we can put the 3.0 honeycomb android O.S. on this?

  2. Is there any chance of adding game apps to the Pandigital novel 7′ I bought three of them for my kids thinking they could play games just like on the I phone but no luck does any one know how or a hack??? I did get angry birds to down load looks great right before it is to start then it kinda locks up.

    1. There’s a version of Angry Birds available from slatedroid that works well on the white PDN.  The versions from the market don’t work so well.  Follow this link and check out the section with the heading “Frequently Requested Apps”  there’s a download link to the working Angry Birds apk file, which you can either download directly from the novel’s browser or stick on an SD card and load that way:

  3. Hello ,I picked one of these uo from “heartland america” catalogue!!! Nice  cosmetic device ,but poor wi-fi range ,anybody here perform any hacks /mods ~ software or hardware to improve its range,,, mine is limited  to 30 ~ 40 feet away from a wi-fi router.

  4. I’m one of the early adopters of the white model. I got it very shortly after it was released but I was able to update it right away so and do so whenever a new update has been released. Haven’t had any problems whatsoever. This is a great little device. I have an iPad and I love it, but the Novel is a great alternative that I might give to someone later on. It weighs the same about the same as the iPad but at least it’s smaller and easier to hold. For the $115 (including tax) I spent on it, I’m pleased with its performance, even if it doesn’t have a capacitive touch screen (actually, the screen has decent response to my touches and taps). This is, essentially my Android tablet and I’m hoping to root it some day when some of the bugs are worked out, in order to get the Market and apps, unless Pandigital updates it that way themselves. We’ll see. But for now, it does the basic things that are important: ebooks, web browsing, email, video, music, basic calendar, alarm clock, photo viewer, has an SD card slot, etc. Nothing fancy but it gets the job done, even if it’s a bit slow compared to the iPad. I’m happy with it.

  5. Just got mine for $ 169.99 less 30 % Kohl’s Discount and the Rebate of $ 35.00 gives a final $ 84.00 out the door price. It’s been six months since introduction……….hope some of the early Bugs are solved !
    It uses Flash Player………YIPPEE !

  6. Does anyone have an idea of what version of Android is on the 4GB Pandigital that QVC has as a TSV today? I can’t find it anywhere online – and am wondering if it is stuck with the old 1.5 version as the Panimage has

    1. Yep – after adding several droid apps that actually search and report the system info on installation, I found that the qvc 4GB model which we bought on the day of your post – IS 1.5 I’m thinking about converting it to newest android version (temporarily available from google — ) But I am taking my time and adding all kinds of other applications that I have found useful just to see how far i can take the v.1.5 – so, far lots of fun stuff!

      1. You mentioned converting the 1.5 to the newest version. I’m interested in doing this so I can download the Kindle App for my black Pandigital Novel, but I don’t know what I need to do. Is it possible and if so, directions for a novice would be wonderful!

  7. QVC has 7″ 4GB as a TSV today for $188. after $220 but retails $240 and another made for QVC 7″ at $139 2GB . These 2 models made for QVC and not available in retail market till Feb. 2011 or later. many extras not seen at pan digital home site. Both are tablet ereaders with app on android .

    1. This is the model I have and I can’t update or add to it.  Pandigital customer service has no answers to when updates may be available for this model :{{{

      1. I just updated my black Pandig. off their website to Android 1.5, but not many apps. Go to Pandig. website and look for the update that turns the ereader/multimedia into an android tablet.

        1. We tried  for almost 7 hours yesterday to download a game from the android app and it will NOT work. Any suggestions?

  8. I bought one on QVC for 179 that had a card and two skins. I bought a second at Kohl’s. With my store coupon it was $133. So far I like it! The website doesn’t have a lot of info on why the firmware upgrade is needed and you have to retype the info. But the reader is nice and being able to email and surf is a nice bonus. I also tried to load the Android SDK but can’t figure it out….

    1. My husband bought me the 4gb and I can’t update it.  No apps, no videos, only email and e-reader from B&N.  I would like to put Kindle on it as well as apps so I don’t have to carry my laptop.  Is it safe to hack???

    1. Would be nice if you were actually a real commenter instead of a hater troll. Fail.

    2. Pandigital has a 6″ e-ink released in Oct/2010 not as versatile but better for actually reading books – just doesn’t do much else. People are jumping on the other model for web surfing – music, video, email, etc. Plus it brings ebooks illustrations – images – kids books etc. to a colorful dimension.

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