While most e-reader browsers are poorly conceived or even nonexistent on some e-readers, Alex boasts full browser capabilities over Wi-Fi or 3G, EVDO/CDMA and GSM mobile networks. Bookmarking, history and security settings are built in for the Web browser.
The device features a patented dual screen. There is a 6-inch monochrome electronic paper display (EPD) for displaying book content and a 3.5-inch color LCD touch screen that can display multimedia content. Users can capture and cache Web content from the color LCD screen and toggle to view it on the EPD screen.
Spring Design explained Alex in a press release, which has a picture of the two-screened device:
""The revolutionary 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 revolutionary dual-screen display design brings together the efficiency of reading on a monochrome EPD 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 will let users insert images, videos and notes as "Web grabs" or custom text created by the user or other secondary authors pertaining to the subject. Users can create their own images and notes and capture them to add to the original text or grab relevant content with the device's Link Notes multimedia authoring tool.
Alex also has a removable SD card, allowing users to archive content.
There has been some speculation that Alex could be the same device Barnes & Noble is expected to unveil at an event in New York City Oct. 20. This seems unlikely based on what Spring Design said in its press release.
See, Spring Design is not selling the device yet because it doesn't yet have in place content and distribution partners for it. However, the company said it is "currently in discussion and enlisting major content partners and plans to release the Alex device for selected strategic partners by the end of this year."
Read more about Alex on TechMeme here.
The e-reader market is indeed heating up, which will be great for consumers in the long run as device prices continue to fall. Plastic Logic today unveiled the Que, though it said customers would have to wait until Jan. 7, to learn full product specifications, availability and pricing.
Amazon's Kindle has gone international in its fight versus the Sony Reader. Google last week announced more details about its Google Editions online bookstore, which will sell titles users can access through any device with a Web browser.