I keep saying that I expect e-readers to get cheaper–and that I wish a manufacturer would dump monochrome E-Ink for a color display and see how consumers respond. And now Pandigital, best known for its photo frames, has announced the Digital Novel. At $199, it’s meaningfully cheaper than the $259 Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, but this Android-based gizmo packs a color touchscreen. (Pandigital scrimped on memory–the Novel has only 1GB, though that’s expandable through SD cards–and left out 3G connectivity in favor of Wi-Fi.)
Major plus: Pandigital’s e-bookstore is powered by Barnes & Noble, so you get access to the same array of reading materials that’s available on the Nook. At six hours, the battery life is inevitably much, much shorter than that of E-Ink devices, but I’ll be curious to see whether a critical mass of folks are willing to recharge more often in return for a bright, backlit color display.
I haven’t seen a Novel in person, but Cnet’s Donald Bell shows one off in this video, and it looks…okay. Kind of like a smaller iPad wannabee that can’t run apps. Pandigital says it’ll go on sale “soon.”