enTourage eDGe: the dual-screen eBook reader

We’re expecting to see several companies launch dual-screen eBook readers at this year’s CES, but first out of the blocks is a little-known US company called enTourage Systems.

The enTourage eDGe (the company’s ridiculous capitalisation, not ours) was the highlight of the CES Unveiled event, which gives journalists a sneak preview of what’s set to appear this year’s show.  It has a  9.7in e-paper display on one side and a 10.1in LCD screen on the other, both of which are touchscreens, allowing you to annotate eBooks with handwritten notes or scan through web pages with the flick of a finger on the LCD screen.

In a brief hands-on demonstration, the eDGe showed several clever touches, such as allowing you to highlight words in eBooks, perform a Google search on the term using the built-in web browser, and then link the search results to the eBook page, which is a great research tool for students reading academic texts. You can also drag and drop pages from the greyscale e-paper screen onto the LCD, allowing readers to view images in full colour, for instance

enTourage-eDGe-3_web

The device runs on Google’s Android operating system, and includes built-in Wi-Fi for web browsing, updating a Twitter feed or updating your Facebook profile. The eDGe has a claimed “minimum” battery life of six hours “with everything running”, according to the enTourage spokesman we met.

The e-paper display is remarkably sharp for a touchscreen, with handwritten annotations easy to add using the built-in stylus. The LCD display was less impressive, and seemed to be suffering from a distinct lack of brightness under the harsh lighting in the conference centre, although we suspect the brightness on the demo units may have been turned down to preserve battery life.

The device is far chunkier than your average eBook reader: it’s certainly not going to be slipping unnoticed into a bag like a Kindle or Sony Reader. In fact, it’s more akin to a netbook in terms of size. It’s price tag is heavyweight too, tipping the scales at $490.

So it’s a reasonably assured start for dual-screen eBook readers, but we can’t help feeling there’s going to be better to come at this year’s show.

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