If you know of Pandigital, you probably know it for its photo frames. However, the company is moving into the hot e-book reader market with a device that a lot of people have been waiting for: an affordable color screen e-book reader with ties to a major bookseller.
Integrated with the Barnes & Noble's e-book store, the Pandigital Novel is an Android-powered e-book reader that has a full color 7-inch touch-screen display, Wi-Fi connectivity, and multimedia capabilities. According to Pandigital, the reader will cost $199.99 when it ships in June.
While we're surprised to see Barnes & Noble partnering with Pandigital, but as anybody who has played around with the iPad knows, it's not a big leap from digital photo frame to e-book reader. Judging by the Novel's press shots, it looks a lot like the rumored smaller version of the iPad that some sites and analysts have been alluding to. That said, the Novel 800x600-pixel resolution display isn't as sharp as the iPad's is, and its resistive touch-screen interface--while responsive--isn't as responsive the iPad's capacitive touch-screen interface is.
An Arm 11 processor powers the Novel, which measures 7.5 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 16 ounces. It has 1GB of built-in memory and has an expansion slot for SD/MMC memory cards--with support for cards up to 32GB in capacity. Pandigital rates its Novel's battery life at six hours in reading mode. That's not a terrible battery life, but it's neither near the iPad's battery life nor the battery life of dedicated e-ink-based e-book readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, that don't have to be recharged for days or even weeks.
While the Novel has multimedia features as well as a built-in Web browser, e-mail client, calendar, and alarm, Pandigital is billing its new devices first and foremost as an e-book reader. According to the company, Novel owners will have "easy access to Barnes & Noble's expansive eBookstore catalog of more than one million eBooks, newspapers and magazines, a wide variety of free eBooks and more than half a million free classics." Novel users can also use Barnes & Noble LendMe feature that lets you share certain e-books with friends and family for 14 days; however, currently you can only lend a book out once. … Read more