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Barnes and Noble's Pandigital Novel: eReader or Tablet?

Barnes & Noble is not playing around when it comes to the eReader market. Not only do they have their homegrown Nook, but also devices made by several other companies: Plastic Logic, iRex, Samsung, and now Pandigital.

But unlike the company's other eReaders, the Pandigital Novel has a 7-inch LCD screen instead of an e-Ink display. It will hook up to B&N's store for eBooks, magazines and newspapers.

The Novel is a 7-inch, 800 x 600 color touchscreen device that connects to the internet via Wi-Fi. It runs on Android, plays music, browses the web, plays video, and connects to email and social networks. If you didn't know this device was an eReader, what would you call it?

A tablet, that's what.

Personally, I'd like to keep the distinctions between eReaders and tablets at the display. If it's a traditional LCD, then I don't think it classifies as an eReader, though consumers can certainly use it for that purpose. Then again, with many touting the iPad as an excellent eReader (I'm not so convinced), it doesn't surprise me that Pandigital would apply that label to this device.

Beyond that nitpickiness, the device sounds like a decent Android tablet running on an ARM processor (ARM 11 Mobile, to be exact). No mention of an app store in the press release, which will vex some. But there are some definite pros to this device. A claimed 6 hours of battery life, 1GB of internal memory (expandable to 32GB with an SDHC memory card), and an accelerometer. All for $199, which is a pretty good price for an eReader or a tablet.

We're looking forward to putting the Pandigital Novel eReader through the paces and testing how it holds up both as an eReader and as an Android tablet. The devices will be available in early June.