Pandigital Planet Review

Over the past few years, Pandigital has released quite a number of tablets cum e-book readers. With the information age entering the digital phase, even the way people read their books has changed. The warm reception Pandigital gadgets have been subject to in the market has motivated the manufacturer to design even better ones to meet the ever-increasing demands of users. Unfortunately, many tablets in the market come with very repulsive price tags attached to them. The Pandigital Planet is just one of the countable budget tablets and e-book readers that are manufactured for users on a slightly restricted budget. You no longer need to break the bank to enjoy the perfect reading experience and sublime features that modern age tablets come with.

pandigital planet

The Pandigital Planet is available in two different versions. The model that will be reviewed in this guide is the one that features the Kindle for Android as its main e-book reading application. The other model is the one that is widely available to majority of potential buyers. It ships with the Nook for Android application pre-installed. Both models are exactly the same thing save for the e-reading app that comes pre-installed in them. In addition to the United States, it is easier to find the version with Kindle for Android in Canada since the Kindle store is open there. On the contrary, the Barnes and Noble e-book stores are not available to Canadians. The gadgets both retail at a price of $ 179 when purchased from Amazon. Whether or not this is a fair price is what this guide will seek to establish.

Pandigital Planet Specification

When purchasing a tablet or any other communication device for that matter, it is mandatory that you take a good look at the specs. This is because there isn’t a better way to determine whether or not the gadget you are looking at is exactly what will meet your needs as the user. In addition, it will always help you know whether the price you are paying is reasonable. If you are planning to buy this tablet, here are the specifications of the Pandigital Planet:

  • 7 inch TFT LCD ActiveTouch multi-touch screen
  • 800 x 600 pixels in screen resolution
  • 800 MHz processor
  • Wireless Wi-Fi connection (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Mini USB host / OTG
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 2 GB in internal storage and a microSD slot for cards of up to 32 GB
  • 1.3 MP rear-facing camera and a 0.3 VGA MP forward-facing camera
  • Micro HDMI output
  • Speaker, microphone and headphone jack
  • Double axis accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Volume buttons, power buttons and backlit Android hardware buttons
  • 13.6 ounces in weight
  • Dimensions of 7.6 x 5.19 x 0.5 inches

The Pandigital Planet Hardware

When purchasing an e-reader, tablet or any other communication gadget for that matter, the first thing you need to consider is the hardware. Irrespective of how many state of the art features are contained therein, the device needs to be equipped with the appropriate hardware, both for compatibility and protection purposes. You do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that will crash the moment it falls from your hands, or one that offers inadequate storage and incompetent processor speeds. To help you know whether or not you are making the right choice, this guide will take you through some of the major hardware components that come with the Pandigital Planet.

Screen

pandigital screen

pandigital screen picture

The Pandigital Planet was released as the updated version of the Pandigital Novel -- a good attempt, though flawed device we feel. As a result, many prospective buyers had their fingers crossed that the device may come with a slightly improved screen. The Pandigital Planet came with a more or less similar screen to that of its predecessor. The 7 inch TFT liquid crystal display boasts a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. The fortunate news is that the Planet comes with a more upgraded ActiveTouch touchscreen for the tech-savvy readers.  This screen has opened up more functionalities and made most functions easily accessible. If you are in the market for the best touchscreen budget tablet, this should be towards the top of your list.

The benefits that come with an improved touchscreen need no introduction. The new resistive screen comes with multi-touch support that will come in handy for a number of operations such as pinch-zooming. This will make it easier and more convenient for readers to zoom documents and images while reading or just viewing. The new ActiveTouch screen works way better than regular resistive screens such as the one on the Pandigital Novel, which used to get a little awful at times. The text quality is crisp and all your images will have the sharpest of edges. Whether you are reading e-books, watching videos, scrolling your pictures or browsing through the newsstand, this screen will ensure your experience is as good as they get.

Processor

In a world where time is equated to many, nobody wants to use a gadget that takes an extra half a second to perform routine tasks. This is why Pandigital saw it fit to provide an upgraded 800 MHz processor with their new budget tablet. This processor is noticeably faster than that on the Novel, ensuring you complete routine tasks within a shorter time. Navigating and turning pages while reading e-books is going to be faster as you use this gadget. Images and video also tend to load faster than in previous Novel models. If you are the kind of user that can’t afford to wait one more second for the processor to catch up, 800 MHz is much more than you need.

Memory

Memory has always been and still remains a very critical consideration when purchasing any gadget. These days, buyers do not know any term like ‘enough storage space’. This is why everyone is looking for a device that not only offers generous internal storage but also comes with an expandable microSD slot, a description that matched the Pandigital Planet. The device not only boasts 2 GB of internal storage but also has a microSD card slot. When you buy the Planet, you are given a free microSD card with a capacity of 2 GB. This effectively means that you will hardly lack space to store all your office and multimedia files.  In any case, you can always buy a card with a higher storage capacity, to the tunes of 32 GB.

Buttons

pandigital planet buttons

It is very easy to get so preoccupied with technological features that you forget to check the little features that matter. The number, nature and location of buttons will always have a big impact on how comfortable it is to handle and use your tablet. The buttons in the Pandigital Nova were inset slightly and had a rather spongy feel. However, those on the Planet sit slightly above its frame and have a solid and responsive feel. The only similarity with those on the Nova is that they will not always react when pressed the first time. Perhaps the best part about them is that you are less likely to press them accidentally when using the gadget. This can be very inconveniencing, for instance when you close web pages you are yet to read and you have to reload them again.

Other Hardware Components

The Pandigital Planet comes with a host of new features that its predecessor could only dream of. First and foremost, it has a mini-HDMI port that allows users to connect to their television sets for better output. Other new additions include front and rear camera as well as USB host capabilities aided by an adaptor. Needless to say, the Planet features backlit Android hardware buttons that will make it easier to turn and navigate pages when using the e-book reader software.  For audio output, the Pandigital planet features built-in speakers, microphone and headphone jack. The built-in speakers however tend to crackle at very high volume. If you need to enjoy loud music or listen attentively to an audio e-book, you will need to get yourself some good quality headphones. Without headphones, you will have to find a way of filtering off the undesired squeaks emanating from the device.

The Pandigital Planet Software

The success enjoyed by the Android open-source platform is one that hasn’t escaped the notice of manufacturers. Android powered gadgets offer users more flexibility by allowing them to model their device exactly how they want it, taking advantage of the inexhaustible applications in the Android market. In addition, other desirable features such as rich notifications and customizable widgets have only been perfected in the Android world. This is why Pandigital decided to go Android with their first budget tablet, the Pandigital Planet. This state of the art device runs specifically on version 2.2 of the Android operating system. If you are an Android enthusiast, this might just be the budget tablet you need.

The challenge that comes with the Android system is that its open-source nature makes it very susceptible to change. With higher versions being designed every year, it can get a little tricky matching the developers’ pace. Fortunately, Pandigital has announced that the Planet software will be upgraded to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) via a future firmware update.  Just so you know access to Google apps and the Android market is anything but out of the box. You will need to know how to root the Pandigital Planet so you can be able to add these applications. The pre-installed SlideMe appstore also has quite a number of applications that you can install directly. Other models usually come with the Getjar appstore pre-installed instead. Either way, the procedure for installing applications isn’t any different.

Pandigital Planet vs. Pandigital Nova

Comparison in the gadget world has proven to be inevitable, and the Pandigital Planet was definitely bound to be compared to the Pandigital Nova. Despite appearing similar, the Nova runs a latter version of Android, which will soon feature on the Planet. In addition, the Nova offers twice as much internal memory, though the microSD card slot on both mocks this benefit. However, the Planet has slightly improved build quality and buttons. The micro-HDMI port on the Planet is also noticeably touchy. The shortcoming in memory and operating system delay notwithstanding, the Planet is clearly the better gadget.

Pandigital Planet vs. Nook Color

It seems every new tablet will ultimately be weighed against the Nook Color. The Pandigital Planet isn’t going to be an exception from this unwritten rule. Notably, the gadget features a HDMI port that the Nook Color can only dream of. In addition, the $ 179 price tag is also going to be a big boost for the Planet. However, the Nook Color still remains the better tablet with the installed N2A card. The faster processor speed and improved screen quality of the Nook will be hard to ignore for majority of shoppers. Despite costing you a few more tens of dollars, thus gadget offers better quality hardware and has a more advanced feature set.

Quick Review of the Pandigital Planet

The Pros

The Pandigital Planet has entered the market at a time when users have already been spoilt by the best hand-held devices ever made. Because of this, survival is anything but guaranteed. To stand the slightest chance against the veteran tablets in stores already, the device will need to introduce something the market is yet to see, or at least match up to the sublime features the other tablets have. This is a feat that the Planet is very capable of achieving. Below are some of the pros that may make prospective buyers throw a second glance at it:

  • More than any other tablet within its price range, the Pandigital Planet comes with a very solid set of features. This is further enhanced by the open-source nature of the Android operating system. Users will enjoy unlimited functionality thanks to the countless supported apps that can be downloaded from the Android market.
  • The first thing that will surely draw many people to the Planet has to be its price. Calling $ 179 affordable when talking about tablets is more than a mere overstatement. The features that this device has to offer will make sure you get more value than you paid for.
  • The gadget comes with a multi-touch resistive screen that is clearly a step forward from the conventional resistive screens. You hardly come across such advanced screens when the price isn’t on the other side of $ 200.

The Cons

Like any other gadget in the market, the Pandigital Planet can only have its own share of flaws. With the ever-increasing needs of users, it is impossible to find a device that doesn’t leave something to be desired. Here are some of the shortcomings you might have to put up with just in case you opt to buy the Planet:

  • As you handle the Planet, you can’t help but think that Pandigital could have done a little better with the build quality. The cheap plastic body used is not only devoid of class but also extremely delicate.
  • You will occasionally here some high-pitched noise emanating from the device. This can be very irritating especially when using the tablet in a quiet and tranquil environment.
  • The battery life of just about 4 to 6 hours is hardly what many buyers were looking forward to. This is partly because the battery drains a lot even when just in standby mode.

The Verdict

Inevitably, the Pandigital Planet is going to be weighed against the very best in the market by prospective buyers. Truth be told, the device is still some distance shy of the very best gadgets lying in shelves. However, these gadgets are always manufactured with a given class of users in mind. Not everyone can afford to spend in excess of $ 200 just to savor tablet features. This is why Pandigital decided to assemble a tablet that majority of these users could afford. With its $ 179 price tag, the Pandigital Planet plays second fiddle to none in the world of budget tablets. The overall ratings on the device are fairly low, but considering the price, it's cheaper than most of the other tablets on the market. If you want the best in terms of features, you may want to look at the Kindle Fire or the Nook Color, but for the price and for a reliable budget tablet that runs on the Android system, the Planet is not bad. However, if you have a little more to spend, you should dash for way better hardware.

Conclusion

The market will always find itself in dilemma every time a good gadget is introduced by a manufacturer. This is the same thing that happened when Pandigital launched its first budget tablet. The impeccable screen quality and open source nature of the Android platform are just too much to resist. However, not many users are going to be impressed with the cheap plastic casing that is meant to protect the underlying features. Because of this, many will be tempted to dig into their pockets for a $ 30 or so just in pursuit of better hardware. With stiff competition from the Nook Color and the Kindle Tablet, things aren’t going to be smooth. The Pandigital Planet tablet will therefore remain a great buy, but only to the buyers who are working with a very restrictive budget.

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Pandigital Planet

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