Spring Design Announces Alex, First Android-based eReader

California’s Spring Design hs thrown its hat into the burgeoning market for ereaders with Alex, a new ebook reader based on Google’s Android platform for mobile devices. Like other ebook readers, the Alex will use 6-inch EInk display to show printed content; unlike other ebook readers, the Alex will also sport a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive LCD display for browsing the Internet and for managing content displayed on the EInk paper-like display. The Alex will also support full Internet browsing using either Wi-Fi or mobile networks.

“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,” said Spring Design CEO Dr. Priscilla Lu, in a statement. “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.”

While Eink displays have proven a boon to e-readers, they aren’t responsive enough (or colorful enough) for a mobile Web experience, so the Alex combines an EInk panel with a conventional LCD display, and lets each display handle the features to which they’re best suited. According to Spring Media, users will be able to cache Web content locally and bring it up on the Eink display—a move that’s likely to save battery life compared to viewing the same content on the LCD display. Proprietary Link Notes technology will enable users to create their own content, grab snippets from the Web, or create and annotations—these can be displayed on their own or alongside other content.

Spring Design Alex Android-based reader

The Alex reader will also support storing media on removable SD cards, and will also offer stereo speakers and headphone output.

Spring Design says it has been working on the Alex for two years, and plans to pitch it to education, entertainment, and business markets as an alternative to Eink-only readers that don’t provide workable live access to the mainstream Internet.

Spring Design hasn’t announced any details of availability or pricing for the Alex reader, but the company is reportedly in talks with mobile carriers and is aiming at a launch before the end of 2009.