Gadget Spot: enTourage eDGe
While a few hundred thousand people spent last week test-driving their new iPads (my 3G version doesn't ship until late April), I used my time getting familiar with the enTourage eDGe.
You can't label the eDGe ($500 at entourageedge.com) an e-reader. Sure it has an E-Ink screen that displays digital publications, but it's a two-screen device. And you can't call it a tablet computer. Its LCD screen operates like a tablet computer, but then there's that adjoining e-reader.
The world's first dualbook is one slick gadget. A 9.7-inch E-Ink display and a 10.1-inch color touchscreen are connected by a clamshell-like hinge. You use four buttons and a stylus to operate the e-reader, while four buttons, a tiny trackball and a touchscreen control the LCD side.
Closed, the unit is literally the size of a magazine. It weighs 3.2 pounds - about the same as a netbook, twice the weight of an iPad and five times the heft of a standard e-reader.
One shortcoming of the eDGe is its touchscreen. What works so precisely and intuitively on the iPhone and iPad is clumsy on the eDGe. However, those touchscreen misfires were eliminated once I decided to use the enTourage-supplied stylus rather than my finger.
The eDGe's tablet computer side uses the Google Android operating system. It surfs the web (via a WiFi connection only) at impressive speeds. Its POP e-mail reader is one of the best I've seen on any PC or phone.
The gadget itself doesn't handle Microsoft Exchange e-mails from work, but once I downloaded NitroDesk's TouchDown (Android), all of my work contacts, calendar and e-mail were instantly accessible.
Books for the e-reader can be downloaded via WiFi. EPub-formatted books and magazines or PDF documents can also be loaded from an SD card or USB drive. Publications displayed on this screen can be annotated in more ways than available on other e-readers.
In another nice touch, the eDGe's e-reader can become a digital journal on which you can take and save handwritten notes using the gadget's stylus.
Unlike the iPad, the eDGe has two USB ports, an SD card input and a mini-USB cable to move content between this unit and your digital camera, MP3 player, cell phone or PC.
Most impressive is how the gadget's two screens interact with one another. The LCD screen can aid navigation on the e-reader screen by displaying a table of contents. And when your B&W e-reader screen features a graphic, there's a feature that lets you view that photo on the LCD screen to see it in more detail or even color (if provided).
Let's see the iPad manage that.
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