We’ve been hearing about it for months; now Spring Design is taking orders for the Alex e-reader, the one that’s the basis of its lawsuit against Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS). Spring claims B&N lifted some of the Alex’s elements after meetings between the two. Whether it gets anywhere with the lawsuit, the company will have a hard time getting traction in an increasingly busy e-reader market complicated by the much-hyped iPad and other tablets.
But dual-screen Alex, which lists for $399, has some interesting features that may help with people looking for an e-reader plus: the main 6-inch screen is an E Ink display for reading but the 3.5-inch full-color LCD below is Android-based with multimedia web browsing and downloads over WiFi. Content can be moved between the two screens. The LCD also works as a navigator for the e-books. There’s an emphasis on Interactive e-books with Spring Design LinkNotes to encourage embedded links in text that go to the web or to content stored on the device. The company says it will ship “no later than mid-April.”
Not too surprisingly, Alex isn’t one of the e-readers using the BN eBookstore. Instead it relies on Google’s public domain books and supports Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) DRM along with Epub, PDF, HTML and text. Spring says the device is also being produced in multi-language versions outside the U.S., including Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Hebrew.