Originally, the 7-inch Pandigital Novel shipped without full access to the Android operating system. Thanks to a firmware update, the tablet received greater functionality including support for a range of file formats and the ability to shop and access content from Barnes & Noble’s NOOKbook Store. Existing customers who own the original 7-inch Pandigital Novel can take advantage of the free update by visiting Pandigital's web site.
Pandigital released a firmware update during the course of our review so we installed the latest firmware. The update process was as simple as one could ask for – simply download the software upgrade tool from Pandigital's site, follow a few instructional screens, restart the device, and enjoy your newly updated Novel. We appreciate that Pandigital makes the update process easy and pain-free. The whole process took us less than 15 minutes to complete. With the firmware update, Pandigital says users will get faster overall performance, support for a variety of additional file formats, the ability to install applications, and more.
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Even with the firmware update, there's a catch when it comes to installing applications. Because the Novel 7-inch Tablet doesn't come with the Android Marketplace, you won't be able to install applications in the same way as you would with another Android tablet. However, the Novel 7-inch Tablet does come with an app called SlideME that provides access to a variety of Android apps (at the time of this writing, there were over 2,900 applications listed).
There aren't a ton of pre-installed apps on the Novel 7-inch Tablet, but the basic personal information management applications you would expect are available. For example, there is an alarm clock, calculator, calendar, contact, and email applications. There are also music and photo viewing apps. Most users that are interested in basic tablet functionality with a device like the Novel 7-inch Tablet, will be glad there isn't a lot of unnecessary and added bloat applications.
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The Novel 7-inch Tablet doesn't support multi touch or double-tapping to zoom. This was particularly noticeable while browsing the web since we've become accustomed to one or both of these features with most tablets we've seen before. To zoom in or out while browsing the web, simply tap the appropriate magnifying glass at the bottom of the display. Pages didn't load quite as quickly as we would have liked while browsing the web but speeds weren't unbearably slow either.