Whoa, what have we here? It's Alex, the dual-screen e-book reader from Spring Design looking very much like the Barnes and Noble device rumored for a Tuesday launch. It features a 6-inch E-ink EPD (electronic paper display) and 3.5-inch LCD running Google's Android OS for browsing the web or viewing video, audio, photos, and notes. It also packs a removeable SD card, speaker, headphone jack, and WiFi or 3G EVDO/CDMA and GSM radios. An interesting Duet Navigator feature even lets you toggle content captured on the LCD and present it back to the EPD to save on battery life. The device is planned for release sometime this year without any details on who might be involved in that exercise.

Update: We just heard from Spring Design's PR person, Pat Meier Johnson. We were told that the Alex device above is not the rumored dual-screen Barnes & Noble reader, "this is an entirely different device." Judging by the hastily prepared web site coincidentally appearing on the eve of the B&N device launch, and the domain's registrar, Albert Teng, who has numerous patent applications (not patents granted) covering "electronic devices having complementary dual-displays," we'd say this announcement is quite possibly a desperate attempt to lay claim to intellectual property rights instead of a real product with real manufacturers and real content partners. We'll see when, or if, it launches.

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FREMONT, CA - OCTOBER 19, 2009-- Spring Design today announced Alex™, the first e-book based on Google Android featuring full browser capabilities and patented dual screen interaction technology, the Duet Navigator™. The Alex livens up text with multimedia links, adding a new dimension to the reading experience and potentially creating a whole new industry for secondary publications that supplement and enhance original text. Alex's dual-screen display design brings together the efficiency of reading on a monochrome EPD (electronic paper display) screen while dynamic hyperlinked multimedia information and third party input on its secondary color LCD screen, actually an integrated Android mobile device, opens a rich world of Internet content to support the text on the main screen.

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, multi-access capability, it provides the entire Web universe as a handy reference library, prompting users to delve into its vast information base to complement, clarify or enhance what they are reading. Alex is the first truly mobile wireless e-book device that gives users their own personalized library on the go, whenever and wherever they need it.

Spring Design pioneered its patented dual-screen device with 'touch and extend' capability in 2007, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the past two years to share its vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. Alex brings together the efficiency of an EPD display with the responsiveness and richness of navigational convenience of the LCD screen. Its removable SD card gives users extensive storage, allowing them to expand their text with multimedia "add on" editions.

Ideal for professional, educational and entertainment markets, Alex dynamically transforms the reader's experience with images, videos and notes inserted as 'Web grabs' or with custom text created by the user or other secondary authors pertaining to the subject being displayed. Users can create their own images and notes and capture them to augment the original text or just dynamically grab relevant content with Link Notes™, Alex's innovative multimedia authoring tool to enhance multimedia publishing.

"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 hyper linked to the text. We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations," said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. "This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience."

Alex™ features a 6" E-Ink EPD display and 3.5" color LCD display, earphones and speakers. A removable SD card will free up library space on the device while letting users archive content for future reference. The enhanced Android OS is optimized to support integration between the color and monochrome displays while preserving battery life. Users can capture and cache web content from their online experience on the LCD screen, and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery life. Browser features such as bookmarking, history, and security settings are built in and the device, with full Android browsing capability, is mobile-enabled with smart phone capabilities.

Spring Design is currently in discussion with, and enlisting major content partners and plans to release the Alex device for selected strategic partners by the end of this year.