Created by Spring Design, the Alex Reader is a new eReader that uses the now rising Google android operating system. It is a dual screen device, like the Barnes & Noble eReader, Nook. The main screen is where you actually read the books and the lower screen is a touchscreen keyboard and access pad to your apps. The Alex Reader can surf the web and download apps besides simply eBooks. It also has the ability to access a wide variety of eBook formats from Google Books, ePub Books, Gutenburg, Web Books, Feed Books and more.
Dual screen devices have always had a certain lore since the invention of the Nintendo DS. “Two screens?” people gasp in excitement, “How can it be?” Well, the Alex Reader is the most recent incarnation of this desire for more screens to play with and it does it well. Realizing that people most enjoy reading for long periods of time on e-ink displays like the Kindle (which have displays more similar to physical ink on paper) because it is easier on the eyes. When it comes to touch screens, however, e-ink just can’t handle it. Instead, LCD screens are king. The creators of the Alex Reader said, “Why not both?”
So the larger of the two displays uses e-ink technology while the smaller uses the touchscreen capability of the LCD screen coupled with the very responsive android operating system. The touch screen is about the size of a droid phone, which is comfortable if you’re used to that, but obviously much smaller than the iPad. The two screens work together when they are able to, so that content is shown on the above screen while you navigate using the lower screen like a keyboard. This is nice to see. The Barnes & Noble Nook does not do as well with this aspect.
The Alex Reader is smaller and longer than some of its competitors. It is very light, which is nice after the weight of the iPad that some people have an issue with. The buttons for changing pages are placed at an awkward place, making turning the page sometimes a hassle. The Alex Reader’s e-ink display is also in full color, making it not only easy on the eyes but also vibrant and beautiful. It does not include a standard sized headphone jack for listening to music, but instead a smaller one–a frustrating fact.
The Alex Reader comes with a few simple apps, but nothing as impressive as your typical cell phone or the iPad. Borders has encouraged third parties to start developing more apps for it, but they will most likely be slower on the uptake. The Alex Reader is more expensive than the Nook and Kindle, but less expensive than the iPad. Whether or not to buy it depends really on what you want out of your eReader. It is a good choice for a lot of reasons, but if you want more simplicity or more options then go higher or lower.