Ebook reader apps for Android have been in the Android Market for some time now, but we've yet to see a production ebook device that uses Google's open-source platform. That could change imminently, however, with the unveiling of the Spring Design Alex ebook reader, a dual-display slate that has a standard 6-inch E Ink panel up top and a second, 3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen underneath, while Android runs the whole show.
Spring Design suggest that the Alex's two displays could be used for browsing ebook-related content online - news, images, video and more - together with adding annotations and building up a collection of web snippets or, as the company has it, Link Notes. You'll also be able to switch content from the LCD display to the E Ink panel, making it easier to read text, together with use the on-screen QWERTY keyboard to annotate and search.
There's also onboard 3G and WiFi, for wireless downloads, and the Alex is said to also work as a full smartphone with a headset jack for voice calls and media playback. Storage is via SD card.
What's interesting is that Barnes and Noble were tipped to be developing a dual-display ebook reader last week, and the ebook retailer and publishing house have a press event scheduled this week (which we'll be attending). Spring Design have only said that they're in talks with major content partners and hardware partners about the Alex, and that they expect it to be on the market by the end of 2009.