Spring Design Announces ‘Alex’ ➝

Although I reported about the Barnes & Noble nook yesterday, Spring Design’s Alex is the first Android based e-book reader. Like the nook, Alex has two displays, one e-paper display and one touchscreen LCD.

Alex has Wi-Fi and 3G but, unlike many of the recently announced e-book readers, supports “full Internet browsing.” Alex also brings a new feature to the e-book market that they refer to as “hyperlinking text with multimedia.”

Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design, regarding the feature:

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. We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations. 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.

Alex has a 6-inch e-ink display (seems to be the de facto standard) and a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD. Users will will be able to capture and cache web content from the LCD screen and “toggle to view it on the [electronic paper display] without taxing the battery life.” Browser bookmarking, history, and settings, are all there.

The focus on web content is what gets me excited about this e-book reader in particular. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that my primary use for an e-reader would be for web content and this seems like the best device for the job. The only downside I’ve found so far is that it’s ugly.

Update 11/6/09: Maximum PC has had some hands on time with Spring Design’s Alex and, looking through the pictures, I’ve realized I was wrong about the design of this thing. The images of the device that were initial released didn’t do it justice, this thing looks fantastic.

Update 11/8/09: Spring Design revealed earlier this week that it has sued Barnes & Noble for infringing on the design of their Alex e-book reader. Spring Design says that they had been working with Barnes & Noble since spring of this year and that Barnes & Noble stole their idea. After both of these e-book readers were announced it was rather obvious that they both had the same idea. Since Barnes & Noble is an established company with no previous hardware history I wouldn’t be too surprised if Spring Designs allegations were true.

Update 1/5/10: Darren Murph reporting for Engadget regarding the Alex:

the reader was intensely thin and remarkably snappy. We had some gripes with the speed of the Nook, but every action we took on the Alex was relatively lag free. We even downloaded a book and watched it open up immediately, and the touchscreen response was also satisfactory.

He seems to like the device. And, just after looking through the gallery and watching the video, I like the device as well.

Update 1/14/10: Spring Design Partners with Borders