Android comes to an e-reader called Alex

Device, due out by year's end, would have two screens

Android is known for smartphones but the mobile platform will also power the new Alex e-reader from a Fremont, Calif., company called Spring Design Inc.

Alex, with two screens, one positioned above the other, will be released by year's end, according to a statement from the company, which is best known for its Link Notes publishing tool. Spring Design was founded in 2006. Pricing was not announced.

With the dual-screen design, users can read a text or newspaper on the larger upper screen, which uses monochrome electronic paper display technology, and also check hyperlinked multimedia information on the lower, smaller color LCD screen. The upper measures 6 inches diagonally, while the lower is 3.5 inches. The e-reader also includes an earphone port and speakers.

A removable SD card is available to increase storage capabilities. Spring Design described the device as "ideal for professional, educational and entertainment markets."

Spring Design CEO Priscilla Lu said the design could potentially create an industry for authors wanting to create secondary content that can be hyperlinked to text. A history text could be supplemented with historical photographs, or even movies, for example.

The Android operating system will help support integration between the color and monochrome displays, while minimizing battery usage, Spring Design said. The Alex has Android's Web browsing capabilities and additional "smartphone capabilities," but the company did not elaborate.

Presumably the device could support IP voice calls, since it works over Wi-Fi and EVDO and GSM.

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