updated 09:20 pm EST, Fri January 8, 2010
Dual screen Android e-book reader tested
Entourage put out final launch details of its eDGe dual-screen e-book reader at CES, and we managed to get hands-on time with the device this afternoon. We consider it pleasantly advanced: it's more a true tablet computer that includes e-book reading than a pure reader. It uses Android 1.6 and still supports browsing, a front camera and other features even as it handles text. Spokespeople at CES tell us that it should receive an upgrade to Android 2.1 around April and get the benefits of the newer OS as a result.
Actual e-book reading is also very sophisticated, if almost too much so. It has an excellent note-taking feature that not only lets you write with a stylus in the margins on pages but highlight text and automatically send that to an index. You can handwrite notes and drawings on the e-paper display as it's also a touchscreen, and surprisingly enough the e-paper doesn't have significant trouble keeping up despite its historically slow refresh rates.
There are also a handful of media playback features, and it's notable that you can launch a video link from an e-book (if it supports the content) that plays in the other screen, a color LCD. The software that handles it is largely stock Android, however, so it won't replace a full computer for advanced music or video.
If there's a main drawback to the eDGe, it's the pure bulk of the device. At 3 pounds, it's closer to a college textbook in weight than the much lighter Kindle, Nook, or QUE. However, we expect that Entourage knows this and that the eDGe is meant more for tabletop reading or those who need more tablet-level functions at the same time. Its greatest threat may just be from Apple or others making full computing-grade slates.
Entourage is poised to launch a Wi-Fi version of the eDGe in February for $490. A 3G version could be available as soon as March.