This was an interesting experiment.. And even better, it was successful I wanted to see if it was possible to hack a cheap eReader and make it into an Android tablet. A friend had a PanDigital Novel 7 inch eReader that had some Android capabilities–a browser, etc. But no Google market capability. You could load apps, but you had to do it manually, and the choice was much more limited than the Google Market. My friend had heard that the Novel could be hacked, but he wasn’t comfortable with trying. The price was right–$68 (plus $10 shipping), so I figured it was worth a shot.
I did some reading and got some wonderful reference material at a site called SlateDroid. Many people have hacked the Novel, so I took the gamble. All you have to do is download a zip file to an SD card, and boot the machine. Could it be that simple? Yes, indeed, it was. I now have a fully functional eReader, as well as a bona fide Android tablet. I have the Google Market available, and I downloaded my favorite apps tonight, just like I was able to do on my smartphone.
It has a few deficiencies, of course. Response to touching is not as sensitive–it has resistive technology instead of capacitive, but once you get used to pressing a little harder, it’s not a big deal. You also can’t do the magnify thing with your fingers, but the screen is so large, there’s no real need. It only has wifi capability, but most tablets are that way anyway.
The display is gorgeous, and it’s really nice to see a web page spread over a relatively large area instead of the tiny screen on a smart phone.
All in all, I think it’s a heck of a good deal. I’m having lots of fun playing with it. And I’m glad I took the hacking gamble.
Addendum–as of 12/8, the prices has gone up to $89.95. I guess they realize they’ve got a winner.