Spring Design, maker of the Google Android-powered dual display Alex e-Reader, due to ship two weeks after the Apple iPad tablet, announced the device is currently available online for preorder via the company's Website for $399. The company said due to localization of international versions with partners, preorders placed on the Web in the United States would be shipped no later than mid-April. The Alex e-reader connects to Google's bookstore with more than one million titles, as well as other bookstores that support Adobe DRM. The Android-based device also supports eBooks in EPUB, PDF, HTML and TXT formats.
The device features a 6-inch monochrome e-ink display for reading alongside an iPhone-like touch screen for navigation and multimedia content. In addition to the standard-issue e-reader experience, the Alex will supposedly offer Internet browsing, WiFi connectivity, access to Android applications, audio and video playback, and image viewing. Users can move content from the color LCD screen to the EPD screen for easier reading and vice versa. The LCD screen complements the EPD text to support functions such as annotating and highlighting what they are reading, or linking to audio, video, and web links. Content can be viewed on both screens simultaneously with the Duet Navigator where the LCD screen is used to control the navigation of the EPD screen.
The Alex e-Reader weighs 11 ounces and measures 4.7-inches by 8.9-inches and less than a half inch deep. The company noted users may add their own content or download content to the microSD card offering expansion of user libraries up to 32GB. The Alex can also be updated over WiFi and USB 2.0 and comes with headphones, AC/USB power connector and a padded cover. The device also offers LinkNotes technology, which allows authors to insert hyperlinks in their books that show up on the EPD reading screen indicating that there is linked-in web-based content available. Users can click on hyperlinks in eBooks, corporate documents, or periodicals that lead to relevant Web-based information or to multimedia content stored on the Alex
"By combining a full multimedia browser with the efficiency and flexibility of an EPD screen supported by our open Android-based Alex e-Reader, we have truly placed a powerful tool in the hands of authors, publishers, professors and institutions to create interesting interactive e-Books" said Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. "Whether for entertainment, education or corporate communication, Alex offers the most dynamic and powerful multimedia e-Reader in the marketplace for creating new media text."
The Nook, an e-reader that Barnes & Noble announced in October 2009, also features a dual-screen configuration, with an e-ink display and a touchscreen. Spring Design announced on Nov. 2 that it would issue a lawsuit over the alleged similarities, followed by its filing an amended complaint on Nov. 11. However, the courts delivered a setback to Spring Design's hopes on Dec. 1, when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California turned down the smaller company's request for an injunction to halt sales of the Nook.