Spring Design let loose the latest e-reader today, a Google Android-based device called Alex. Spring Design gives a nice summary of its features, the most important being its combination of a color and an e-ink screen.
Alex, 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.
So why am I excited? For a couple of reasons, the most obvious being that any e-readers that improve on Kindle’s very limiting design is a good thing in changing the way students access textbooks and other written content. The second is that, although Spring Design hasn’t announced any distribution partners, this little device begs to be used with Google Editions and a whole new class of interactive textbooks.
As eWeek points out:
“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.”
At the same time, Google Editions will allow any users with a web browser to access its content. Alex, of course, has a web browser integrated, making connections between Editions and the device a no-brainer. Add to that the ability for students to use the book reader while annotating, researching, linking, bookmarking, and sharing, and you have a really capable e-book reader, both inside and outside the education space. It’s like the device, the OS, and the service were made for each other.
Alex features a 6″ E-Ink EPD display and 3.5″ color LCD display, earphones and speakers. A removable SD card will free up library space on the device while letting users archive content for future reference. The enhanced Android OS is optimized to support integration between the color and monochrome displays while preserving battery life. Users can capture and cache web content from their online experience on the LCD screen, and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery life. Browser features such as bookmarking, history, and security settings are built in and the device, with full Android browsing capability, is mobile-enabled with smart phone capabilities.