The rumor of an e-book reader with a typical e-Ink screen that also had a small color touchscreen for navigation and content display created a stir in the digital book world. Such a device could easily be leveraged by Barnes & Noble (s bks) for a dedicated e-book reader tailored for book shopping on the device. Today a relatively unknown company announced just such a device, although it made no mention of whether this is the fabled B&N device.
The Spring Design Alex runs the Google (s goog) Android OS and has a 6-inch e-Ink screen for displaying book content. The secondary screen is a 3.5-inch color touchscreen that can display multimedia content, and aid in navigating through both the reader and online content as Alex has 3G (EVDO/CDMA/GSM) integrated into the device. The reader will have full browsing capabilities due to the Android OS, supporting bookmarks, and full-featured web surfing. This includes the ability to cache web content for later reading on the e-Ink display. The user can also toggle the color screen’s content onto the big display for reading that is easy on the battery.
The company has been in discussions with content providers for the past two years, and claim deals will be announced soon. The Alex reader will appear before the end of the year. No pricing information has been provided.
“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.”