Pandigital announces Novel e-reader/tablet hybrid

Digital photo frame developer Pandigital has announced its new Novel e-Reader, which actually runs more like a cheap tablet PC rather than just a device for bookworms.

The Novel sports a 7-inch screen, runs the Android operating system, and has the Barnes & Nobel eBookstore fully integrated thanks to a deal Pandigital has secured with the book giant. This gives Pandigital customers access to over one million paid and half a million free e-books.

However, it’s not the books that could make this a powerful contender on the market. It’s the fact that it can do pretty much everything the iPad can, and for a significantly lower price at $199.99. It has a full built-in browser for social networking, news, and so forth. It also packs a built-in email application and a media player for listening to music, watching videos, and browsing pictures.

It has an LCD backlit screen like other tablets instead of the inferior e-ink one the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers use. It has room for up to 1GB of downloads, but allows SDHC cards up to 32GB for added storage. Its lithium-ion battery allows up to six hours of reading time.

The iPad has a larger screen at 9.7-inches, allows up to 64GB of storage, and also offers a longer battery life of up to 10 hours, but it’s two and half times the price at $499. Even the Kindle is more expensive than the Novel, retailing at $259. Borders’ Kobo e-reader is a little cheaper at $150, but it’s much less functional.

The Novel is a kind of hybrid of e-reader and tablet, and while it may not be quite as powerful as other tablets on the market, it’s certainly a lot cheaper, making it a potential entry-level device.

It will be available in June.

Pandigital Novel