Pandigital’s Strange Android Tablet

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Pandigital Novel color Android eReader for $200

This is a very, very strange development that makes my head explode.

Here are the general specs:

  • Screen Size 7”
  • Panel Digital TFT LCD
  • Resolution 600 x 800 pixels
  • Operating System Android
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 7.5 x .5 inches
  • Weight 16 oz
  • Supported Formats
  • eBooks EPUB, PDF

With the full specs here.

It’s said to have an ARM11 CPU, but no clock speed is given.

I asked Steve Paine what he thought the likeliest speeds were for an ARM-11 CPU:

@mikecane anything from 400Mhz to 800Mhz is common for ARM11 For Android, think G1, Hero. Samsung S3C6410 Likely.Mon May 24 20:41:22 via TweetDeck

Initially, I thought it doubtful it’d have a speed of over 400MHz for a US$199 device. But then the iPod Touch is ARM-based and is over 400MHz for US$199 too. Of course, the Touch doesn’t have a 7″-screen.

The version of Android is left unstated. And that Android part is what makes my head explode.

For what we have here is an Android tablet that can access and read DRMed ePub from Barnes & Noble.

My head explodes because Barnes & Noble has neither officially announced nor ever released an Android version of their software!

See their software page.

So how does it wind up on this device instead of any other non-Barnes & Noble Android device — like, say, the millions of Android phones out there?

Is it the Adobe DRM? Does that require being baked-into the ROM? And yet, there’s been software for the iPhone that can do Barnes & Noble DRMed eBooks. Are those not Adobe DRMed? Not ePub? My head hurts.

My head also hurts because this is basically a Nook without either 3G or eInk. Would Amazon ever license its Kindle reading software for a non-3G/non-eInk device from another company?

There are other things about this that hurt my head too. But first, let’s see what an eBook looks like:

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Full justification, but no hyphenation. Typical of ePub.

This next shot brings the Not Good:

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See the My Library area? See those coverless books? Barnes & Noble does this shit with the HP-branded desktop software too. Any eBook a user adds gets stripped of its cover and is treated like an illegal alien, even given fewer sorting options than Barnes & Noble’s for-pay eBooks:

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And here’s another view, confirming this, showing two types of coverless books:

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I don’t know why Barnes & Noble deliberately wants to sabotage the user experience for people. It makes no sense at all.

Finally, here’s another thing that makes my head explode. The software can do PDF:

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But what kind of PDF? Because look at what happens with the HP-branded Barnes & Noble desktop software when it’s asked to do a Google Books PDF:

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This is what that PDF should look like, from Adobe Reader:

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The HP-branded Barnes & Noble desktop software has no ability to magnify the PDF or Fit To Screen or offer a double-page view. I have no idea why it renders the image so damned small, either.

So I really wonder what would happen when a Google Books PDF — or one similar to it — is loaded on the Pandigital and sent through Barnes & Noble’s software.

So, to sum up, this is a very weird move by Barnes & Noble — letting another company compete against its Nook — and a device that creates many questions only a full review can answer.

For US$199, it almost seems like a better buy than the Archos 7 Home Tablet — except it lacks the ability to do video beyond MP4, while the Archos can handle most of the real-world video files people are most likely to already have on their hard drives. On the other hand, Archos uses Aldiko for ePub, which cannot handle Adobe DRM. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

One other thing: Apple must have been hearing the verdicts from the eBook Set. The iPad is too large and too heavy. It’s unlike Apple to allow competing devices with 7″-screens to grab some of the market. Will there be a 7″-screen iPad Mini later this year?

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