Pandigital Novel eReader Review
Design - Weight and Dimensions
Dimensions: 7.5 in x 5.5 in x 0.5 in
Weight: 15 ounces
Color: Available in white
The Pandigital Novel eReader is a marvel of a device, with a full color screen and a classy, white enclosure. It's lighter than comparable devices, like the Amazon Kindle DX which comes in at 16 ounces -- one more ounce than the Pandigital model itself. Of course, that may be because the Pandigital Novel is just a bit smaller than Amazon's large-screened Kindle device, but it manages to mix the slightly smaller form factor and the large screen just right for many entry-level eBook device buyers.
Display - Resolution and Reflectiveness
Display Type: 7 inch TFT LCD display
Resolution: 800 x 600
Color Depth: 32-bit color display
Pandigital's Novel eReader device is one of a growing number of eReader devices that ships with a full-color screen. Capable of 32-bit color, this mix between the familiar eInk technology and a tablet-like screen serves the device well. Especially with WiFi, these color devices are increasingly more functional than their black and white counterparts. It comes standard with an 800x600 display resolution, which is almost a universal standard among eReaders of this type. Both the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook come with the same resolution, and it fits perfectly with the compact size of the screen itself.
User-friendliness and Interface - Touchscreen vs Keyboard
Unlike many eReaders currently on the market, the Pandigital Novel comes with a full touchscreen instead of a physical keyboard. That means any navigation of the device's books, bookstores, images, or other media, is entirely done with the swipe of a finger rather than any buttons placed on the device itself. That can be a great thing, as virtual keyboards and navigation devices allow the device to be more extensible and evolve to better serve each of its unique functions. However, users who are not used to navigating a device via touch input will find it hard to use at first. That having been said, touch displays are increasingly easy to use and user-intuitive. The Pandigital Novel's touch display is no exception, and even novices will adapt quickly.
Memory - Internal and External Storage
Flash Memory: 1GB internal memory
Flash Cards: Expandable to 16GB using SSD removable media
A good number of eReaders on the market sacrifice their internal storage in the name of price, and the Pandigital Novel is not one of those eReaders. While Amazon's latest Kindle ships with four gigabytes, and the Nook comes standard with 2GB, Pandigital includes only 1GB with its Novel eReader device. However, with expandability to 16GB using SSD removable cards, this is an eReader that is designed to last for quite some time without requiring an upgrade or compromises on just how many texts can be stored on the device itself. And it's worth noting that Amazon's Kindle devices cannot be supplemented with removable media of any kind -- a big limitation.
Formats - Doc, PDF, ePub and Third-party DRMs
Supported Text Formats: EPUB, PDF
Supported Image Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
While this color eReader device does support a wealth of image formats, it severely lacks in how many print formats it supports. And that's disappointing, considering the device will be purchased primarily for the purpose of reading electronic books. This Pandigital eReader does support the widely-used EPUB and PDF formats, which means it can be used with many independent bookstores and other retailers, but it lacks support for simple TXT files, DOC files (as from Microsoft Office), and Amazon's proprietary eBook file format. Customers will want to take into account that a lack of file format support indicates a lack of purchase options, and that may affect their willingness to buy the Pandigital Novel.
Web-browsing and Applications
The Pandigital Novel comes with a direct link to the Barnes & Noble electronic bookstore, and also ships with an image viewing application and a music player. The music player, especially, is a unique feature, and it's nice to see it included on a device that is so expandable. The image viewer is a great way to highlight the device's full-color touchscreen display and it shines when showing images at full-screen. This particular Pandigital eReader ships with support for both the 802.11b and 802.11g wireless connectivity protocols and can be used independently of a computer.
The Pandigital Novel supports up to 7,500 page turns per battery cycle, which compares favorably to both the Nook and the Amazon Kindle. The only device that currently exceeds that amount of battery life is Amazon's larger Kindle DX device, and that is largely because the eReader's greater size allows for a larger battery than traditional models.
The Pandigital Novel eReader retails for $179.00, making it extremely competitive with similar color models.
Additional Features and Accessories
This Pandigital Novel review or any other Pandigital eReader reviews wouldn't be complete without another mention of the device's built-in multimedia player that can play back AAC, MP3, and WMA audio formats. The device includes the relevant 3.5mm headphone jack; those who enjoy listening to music while reading will absolutely love this.
The Bottom Line
The Pandigital Novel eReader is priced extremely competitively for a device of this kind: full-color screen, built-in image and music capabilities, and WiFi connectivity. Its main drawback is a lack of support for print file formats, but that can be overlooked by most basic users and it may not even affect most Pandigital buyers.