Spring Designs’s dual-screen, Android-based Alex ereader was announced all the way back in October 2009 and made quite a presentation at CES in January—and now following a couple month’s delay is officially shipping to customers with a $399 price tag.
The Alex features a 6-inch EInk display for text content, and a smaller 3.5-inch color LCD display that enables user to connect to the Internet, check email, surf the Web, and do just about anything an Android phone can do—because, although it’s not a phone, it is running the Google Android operating system. The Alex eReader sports microSD removable storage and Wi-Fi connectivity, but future versions will apparently offer 3G connectivity so users can get their information on the go, and Spring Designs can work out connectivity plans with wireless providers. The Alex supports ePub, PDF, HTML, and text ebook formats; Spring Designs also plans to support additional languages, with Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, and Hebrew reportedly in the works.
If the dual-screen design of the Alex sounds a bit like the Barnes & Noble Nook, Spring Designs apparently thought so too: it sued Barnes & Noble over the Nook’s design.
At $399, the Alex is only $100 less expensive than the Apple iPad, so it may have a tough time attracting consumers. However, for students and folks who need to combine a lot of reading material with a little bit of real email and Internet access (remember, the EInk display is easier on the eyes long term than an LCD), the Alex might merit some investigation—particularly if the content you want to use is available in ePub format.