Here’s a video showing the general performance and feel of this device:
I always told myself that once Android tablets dropped below $100, I’d pick one up. That has now happened with the $85 PanDigital 7-Inch Tablet Computer – White. I’ll skip the review and the full tech specs, as those are widely available. The only caveat I will add is that you should ignore complaints about the original item’s locked down software. The device, as it ships today, is infinitely more useful than the original.
If the review you are reading shows images of the device looking like this, then ignore the review.
The reviews you should pay attention to are the ones written after the major upgrade to this device of January 2011, and images in the review should look like this:
If your device looks like the second image above, ignore this paragraph. If you already have an older one and it looks like the first picture, then the first step in making it useful as more than an e-book reader is to click here if you are a Windows user or here (link 1 and link 2) if you are not a Windows user. I’ll assume for the rest of this article that you are not using the locked-down firmware either because your device is more recent, or because you’ve loaded the more recent OEM firmware.
We will not be rooting our device. Many guides are available for that, this instead will document how to make this device useful without taking that risk. I’m going to sharing a few tips and pointers that I’ve found made this device much more useful than intended, including by breaking free of the Barnes & Noble and SlideMe duopoly over the software available to the device.
App Stores that Work On This Device.
As you have probably already realized, the Pandigital 7″ is not officially supported by Google and so all of the “standard” Google apps are missing — including the Android Marketplace. If you open this article on your Pandigital and click these links, you will be guided through the process of enabling these various alternatives to the Android Marketplace.
- Amazon Appstore. One paid app for free every day, and a fairly wide selection of apps in general – It is of sufficiently high quality that I have this installed on my cell phone that does have the official Android Marketplace too. This is probably the closest to a drop-in replacement to the Android Marketplace currently available. The biggest downside is that if an app doesn’t officially support our device, then it will not allow us to even attempt to install it. This includes, mind bogglingly enough, the Amazon Kindle app.
- Opera Mobile Store. But fear not! The Opera Mobile Store does allow you to install the Kindle App onto your Pandigital and it works just fine. Though it has a smaller selection, there appear to be many cases wherein the Opera Mobile Store will let me attempt to install an app that the Amazon Appstore does not.
- Soc.io Mall. This seems marginally better than the SlideMe app store, but worth including because it is still nonetheless better. You must go hereon your desktop computer to register before you can log in on your Pandigital, as there seems to be a bug in the app itself.
- Freewarelovers. Use this to manually download .apk files for those apps that are not available in any of the above, but that are still normally free from the Android Marketplace.
- Thepiratebay.org. Do not use this unless you live in Sweden and have the written permission of everyone that has ever published an app in the official Android Marketplace. It works just fine for everyone, but if you don’t meet the two above criteria and use it then you are a bad person and going to hell after being put to death by DMCA agents who will fastrope into your house in the middle of the night and shoot your dog. I’m going to trust you on this one using the honor system, mmmk?
Some Useful Software Now Available to you.
The following are available at one or more of the above stores, and I’ve confirmed that they work on the Pandigital 7″.
- Kindle. Best-in-breed e-book store reader. Available from the Opera Mobile Store.
- TV.com. Allows watching of a few TV shows, including the original Star Trek series. Available from the Opera Mobile Store.
- Opera Mini. Best-in-breed web browser for Android. Available from the Amazon Appstore.
- Skyfire. Web browser with mediocre flash video playback capability.
- Dropbox. Available here, this is the easiest way to move files back and forth between your desktop and your device without plugging things in and unplugging them, and without moving SD cards back and forth.
- Launcher Pro. Replaces the default home screen with a much nicer one and is the best-in-breed alternative home screen. Available here.
- Star Traders RPG. Available from the Amazon Appstore, it’s a fun little game that can kill time.
- Bathroom Reader. Takes you to a semi-random Wikipedia article, such as “Random Sports Article”, “Random Celebrity Article”, “Random Technology Article”, and several other categories. Available from the Amazon Appstore.
Well, that is most of what I have discovered about the possibilities of this $85 device so far. What have you discovered?