Despite the drone of analyst chatter related to whether e-ink based eReaders are here to stay or simply a transition display medium that will shortly be replaced, plenty of electronic manufacturers are releasing noteworthy devices based on the technology. Looking similar to the previously released Barnes & Noble Nook, the Alex eReader, built by Spring Design, features a 6-inch e-ink display on top, along with a companion 3.5 inch color touchscreen below. In terms of connectivity, like other eReaders the device will include built in wi-fi along with 3G compatibility, allowing buyers to access content from anywhere there’s service.
It also runs Android, which allows the device to do far more than simply read books. Outside of downloading and running apps found in the Android market, basic internet needs such as checking email, running Google searches, and playing multimedia content both on and offline are all supported by the device.
Taking things a step further, the Alex also supports so called “Web Grabs” in which favorite web pages can be copied and saved to the devices SD card based memory for browsing offline. Web pages opened and viewed on the devices bottom color screen can also be shifted for viewing on the devices larger e-ink display for easier reading minus the color.
Finally, one particular feature set that should appeal to students and business oriented users a like is Link Notes. Basically it’s described as an easy yet dynamic way to annotate any text with images, web grabs, videos, and personal notes, to further enrich the reading experience. The system even hints at being able to dynamically grab related content, but what that exactly implies at this point is still unclear.
In terms of content, the company has recently announced a partnership with Borders to offer eBooks from the book seller. The Borders online store will apparently offer more than 2 million titles and be powered by the Kobo eBook store. So there’s no need to worry that this powerful eReader might be marooned for lack of content. If these details have peaked your interest, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until February 22 to buy one directly from Spring Design. We’re hoping to have more clarification and a hands on review though to follow up with later. For screen shots of the lower screens additional functions in the actions check out the images and press release on the next page.
Images & Press Material on Next Page
FREMONT, CA – OCTOBER 19, 2009– Spring Design today announced Alex™, the first e-book based on Google Android featuring full browser capabilities and patented dual screen interaction technology, the Duet Navigator™. The Alex livens up text with multimedia links, adding a new dimension to the reading experience and potentially creating a whole new industry for secondary publications that supplement and enhance original text. Alex’s dual-screen display design brings together the efficiency of reading on a monochrome EPD (electronic paper display) screen while dynamic hyperlinked multimedia information and third party input on its secondary color LCD screen, actually an integrated Android mobile device, opens a rich world of Internet content to support the text on the main screen.
Alex is the first Google Android-based e-book device to provide full Internet browsing over Wi-Fi or mobile networks such as 3G, EVDO/CDMA and GSM. With its dual-screen, multi-access capability, it provides the entire Web universe as a handy reference library, prompting users to delve into its vast information base to complement, clarify or enhance what they are reading. Alex is the first truly mobile wireless e-book device that gives users their own personalized library on the go, whenever and wherever they need it.
Spring Design pioneered its patented dual-screen device with ‘touch and extend’ capability in 2007, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the past two years to share its vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. Alex brings together the efficiency of an EPD display with the responsiveness and richness of navigational convenience of the LCD screen. Its removable SD card gives users extensive storage, allowing them to expand their text with multimedia “add on” editions.
Ideal for professional, educational and entertainment markets, Alex dynamically transforms the reader’s experience with images, videos and notes inserted as ‘Web grabs’ or with custom text created by the user or other secondary authors pertaining to the subject being displayed. Users can create their own images and notes and capture them to augment the original text or just dynamically grab relevant content with Link Notes™, Alex’s innovative multimedia authoring tool to enhance multimedia publishing.
“This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text. We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations,” said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. “This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience.”