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First Android e-Reader On The Way

10/19/2009 03:48:46 PM Eastern

Fremont, Calif. - The first announced e-reader running Google's Android operating system is expected to debut within months from Spring Design.

Spring Design'sIt is anticipated to feature tandem
screens: a 6-inch monochrome screen for reading e-books and, just below it, a
smaller color screen for Internet searches.

Spring Design, which expects to partner with publishers and
bookstores to sell the device, dubbed Alex, anticipates a debut later this
year, said a spokeswoman.

The device acts like a combination e-reader and mobile Internet device
(MID), but it uses patented technology to dynamically link the e-book content
running on the upper e-Ink screen with Internet links appearing on the lower,
3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen. The bottom screen also offers a soft keyboard with
full Internet browsing.

"Alex is 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, it provides the entire Web universe as a handy
reference library," said a Spring Design statement.

Spring Design is in talks with mobile carriers. No price has been
announced on Alex, which also permits over-the-air downloads of e-books and
comes with an SD card. But a spokesman said the price will reflect the fact
that it offers dual screens.

The announcement on Monday followed speculation that Barnes &
Noble will debut an e-reader under its own name at a news conference scheduled
for Tuesday. A
report in Gizmodo
claimed the expected Barnes & Noble e-reader will
also be Android-based, and also have dual screens, with a black and white
screen on top and a color one below.

"We were surprised about the [Barnes & Noble] announcement
tomorrow," said the Spring Design spokeswoman, explaining, "Spring Design has
been in discussions with Barnes & Noble since last year. We filed patents
on it. What's being shown tomorrow is not the Alex," she said.

Spring Design has been working on the Alex since 2006, she said.

Barnes & Noble did not immediately respond to a TWICE
inquiry. Reports of a Barnes & Noble first broke in the Wall
Street Journal
Oct 9.

For its part, Spring Design said Alex's ability to dynamically
link the top and bottom screens could spark a new industry for e-book-embellishment
"apps."  "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 hyperlinked to the text. We are bringing life
to books with audio, video and annotations," said CEO Dr. Priscilla Lu.

Also today, Plastic Logic announced the name of its plastic
e-reader device
as Que, which will be formally unveiled at International
CES.

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