Alex Android eReader: 2 Screens, 1 Touch


This may or may not become the Barnes & Noble eReader we’ve heard so much about, but Spring Design has just announced their dual screen E-book Reader they are calling “Alex”. Unfortunately I just don’t get it. I understand the separate advantages of each of these different screens and I’m obviously a tad bit bullish on Android but squishing them together into 1 device with 2 screens?

Much of the mobile device challenge is enjoying a viewing/browsing experience on a limited screen size and this takes that problem and… enhances it. I might eat my words when this is launched but for now I think this is a case of 2 screens, 1 touch – in other words it is eating a big hunk of you know what.


Here is the full press release:

Spring Design Announces Dual Screen E-book Reader,
Hyperlinking Text with Multimedia

Secondary color touchscreen supplements text with web-based or any linked multimedia content; Enables users to enhance original text with their own embedded video, audio, photos and notes

FREMONT, CA – OCTOBER 19, 2009 — Spring Design today announced Alex™, the first Google Android-based e-book with full browser capabilities and patented dual screen, the Duet Navigator™. 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 (electronic paper display) 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.

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.

Spring Design pioneered its patented dual-screen device with ‘touch and extend’ capability in 2007, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the past two years, sharing the vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. This dual screen device brings together the efficiency of an EPD display with the responsiveness and richness of navigational convenience of the LCD screen. Its removable SD card gives users extensive storage, allowing users to expand their text with multimedia “add on” editions.

Ideal for professional, educational and entertainment markets, Alex dynamically transforms the reader’s experience with images, videos and notes inserted as ‘Web grabs’ or with custom text created by the user or other secondary authors pertaining to the subject being displayed. Users can create their own images and notes and capture them to augment the original text or just dynamically grab relevant content with Link Notes™, Alex’s innovative multimedia authoring tool to enhance multimedia publishing.

“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,” said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. “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™ 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 phones capabilities.

Spring Design is currently in discussion and enlisting major content partners and plans to release the Alex device for selected strategic partners by the end of this year.

About Spring Design:

Spring Design Inc., founded in 2006, delivers innovative e-reader solutions and products to the e-book market, offering overall “Link Notes”, a content authoring and multi-media publishing tool as add on editions to original text. Spring Design Inc. is located in Fremont, California with engineering offices in Taiwan and China. Spring Design Inc. pioneered its patent-pending dual screen design with Duet Navigator™ capability in 2006, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the last 2 years, sharing the vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. Spring Design’s innovative patented technologies incorporate the seamless interaction of dual display and multi-online access in a single device, benefiting and leveraging the technology and resources of the Web to enhance the reading experience with “Web Grab”.

Any diehard eReader users out there who want to lend their own opinion/insight to this situation? I’m just confused… and I hope for Barnes & Noble’s sake this isn’t their famed device. Why anyone would choose this over just using the Kindle along with the Android Phone they have in their pocket I have no idea. I guess that’s what the comments are for so have at it…

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  2. Idk, i think the thing looks cool.

  3. I remember seeing on another Android website (while Phandroid was down last week) a Youtube clip where a Barnes & Nobles guy said they were teaming up with Plasitc Logic (http://www.plasticlogic.com/) for their eReader. I don’t know the validity of that statement or if their reader will be Android based or not.

  4. Can they actually make a touch screen EPD display? I figured they did this so they could get touch screen AND the EPD display. I didn’t think they could do it all on one screen yet. But I haven’t really looked around much. I don’t read enough non-school books to need one of these.

  5. I kind of like the idea of having 2 screens. From the photo, I’d say the larger screen is an eink display similar to the kindle and many other ebook readers. While this is great for text, eink can’t do color. Thus the smaller screen for things like images. Makes perfect sense to me as long as they don’t try and make the device too small. If it’s a decent size I think there will be room for both screens and it could provide a very functional device.

  6. Pictures are working finally!! Yay. Thanks for the fixing. Now I have to go back and read the articles again.

  7. All I got from the press release was that Google and co found a way to put Adsense into books.


  8. I think someone hit the turbo button on the server. Images loading fast, as well as pages! Thanks!

  9. “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.”

    That says it all from the release. The 1.6 Battery Usage tool tells me that 50% of my battery is being drained by the screen/display.

    This fixes that.

  10. I have never owned an eReader, but this does make sense to me for use in certain cases. I’d imagine a student could get great use out of this, for example. You could read your texts on the eink display but if you wanted to look more deeply into a certain topic, you could easily flip on the lower android portion and cross reference to wikipedia, or use it to perform calculations or for note taking.

    for the average daily reader, im sure a kindle type device would make much more sense though

  11. The concept makes sense, but the design is clunky and awful. The device will either be too long, or the e-ink display will be too short. Now, if they could somehow sandwich the e-ink display together with a typical color touchscreen, that would be neat. And probably very expensive.

  12. I kind of like the idea and I can see what they are going for… but the smaller screen just takes away from the size of the reading screen (which you would think you would want to be as large as possible). Again, it’s a cool idea.. but I’m not sure it really works.

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