Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two-in-one from enTourage eDGe

Even the name of this device makes it look like someone was trying too hard. Looking at it is reminiscent of cartoons that show inventions hammered together out of a dozen different kitchen utensils. But hidden beneath the obvious cliches, there is some thought-provoking technology. If Nook can have a miniature LCD touch screen beneath an eInk reader, why not expand that into a fully functioning netbook? That's what enTourage seems to have done.

The enTourage eDGe is about the size and shape of a netbook, but when opened up it doesn't have a keyboard. Instead it has a 9.7" eInk screen on one side and a 10.1" LCD touch screen on the other. One side is a fully functioning ereader for ePub and PDF format files and the other is a fully functioning tablet netbook. You can use them separately or at the same time, and transfer files acquired on the netbook to the reader for viewing. The eInk screen also allows note-taking and drawing, while the netbook side is equipped with media player/recorder and newly announced Office document editing from DataViz. The device is based on the Android mobile operating system and when released next month is expected to retail at about $490, a little less than buying both a netbook and an eReader.

Possibly the best feature of the dual screen device is the ability to use a stylus on the eInk screen to write notes, draw, or annotate text. The interaction between the two screens seems very smooth, using the touch screen keyboard to type on the eInk screen, searching on the Internet for phrases in eBooks, and managing the library.

The device, announced in October and revealed to the public at CES last week, has a lot of potential for those who want a single device on which to do everything. But it also runs the risk of being a little bit in two worlds and not fully in either. Years ago a friend compared such devices to cross-bikes, too heavy to really be a street bike and not quite rugged enough for mountain trail-riding. This is another device that I can't wait to get my hands on, but can't really see myself using, either.

From Gizmodo: enTourage eDGe Dualbook On Sale in February For $490, Combines Ereader With Tablet
From DVice: Entourage Edge: slick Android e-reader or overpriced dud?
enTourage eDGe Home Page and Demo: Introducing the enTourage eDGe™

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