I elaborated yesterday on Shawn Dubravac’s, Chief Economist and Director of Research for CEA, message about tablet PCs filling the last screen size void. Dubravac believes that the future of the 5 to 12 inch screen sized devices lies in the tablet PC, and I thoroughly agree. Although there are PC alternatives, they are relatively weak at the moment and the device that is becoming increasingly synonymous with tablets is the iPad. At two million units and climbing, the Apple iPad could become the only way we refer to tablet PCs, similar to the way Kleenex is what most people call a facial tissue. To prevent this monopolization, enTourage, a tablet PC manufacture, presented a strong showing at CEA this year and wowed me with the eDGe, the first ever dualbook.
Combining a LCD screen running Android on one side and an eReader on the other side, enTourage’s eDGe is a breath of fresh air in a tablet market that tends to lack innovation and creativity. Rather than build on the success of single face devices like the Kindle or iPad by cramming all its functions into a single LCD, enTourage has chosen to combine the best of both worlds and create a dual screen device. This might seem a bit strange since having two screens will make the device heavier and contradicts the growing trend of minimalism. However, once I began using it, I could see the conscious decisions that enTourage has made in order to create the first ever dualbook. In my hands, the weight was comparable to a netbook or a lighter textbook. It was not too heavy after prolonged use. The 10.1 inch LCD screen had just the right amount of brightness and the 9.7 inch e-Ink screen was a perfect complement. While the LCD screen offers brightness controls, the e-Ink screen won’t be visible in the dark. But e-Ink portion is no ordinary display. It’s actually a Wacom “penabled” tablet. This means that users will be able to write anything onto the eBook side. Any notes that I wanted to write down while I was reading could be written directly into the file and saved, which is great for students who need to constantly annotate their textbooks.
But what if the reason why you’re annotating a section is because you aren’t sure what a certain word means? This is where the second screen comes into play and any confusion about why the device is a dualbook is cleared up. If you’re reading something on the eReader, you can highlight any confusing word or phrase on the e-Ink screen, that word or phrase will then instantly appears on the other LCD screen. It then prompts the user to to look up the word or phrase on Wikipedia, Google, Dictionary.com, or with a few other options. These two screens allow you to not only read and search but also to switch right back to reading on the other screen saving time and removing the need to shuffle around screens on the tablet. This is a fantastic way for students to eliminate the weight of unnecessary print books, while also being as efficient as possible with one single device for both computing and reading. enTourage has pretty much removed the need for big backpacks filled with books, notebooks, and laptops.
The only problems I had during my time with the eDGe was its lack of 3G and responsiveness. The device already has a 3MP camera, SD/MMC card slot, and great screen sizes working for it, but the lack of 3G and the old Android 1.6 OS were problems that I immediately had to discuss with the available representatives. Thankfully, they assured me that they were in talks with telecommunication companies to not only get 3G or 4G available for their dualbook, but also to make a semi-subsidized program available to bring down the costs for consumers. In regards to Android 1.6, they told me that they were hard at work on getting FroYo 2.2 running as soon possible. Unfortunately, they were unable to give a definitive timetable when pressed about a possible release date for either a mobile broadband or Froyo model, but they did responded with a confident “soon.” The current eDGe costs about $499.99 making it an equally priced competitor to Apple’s iPad, and the enTourage website is readily available to process your order if you are interested in purchasing the first ever dualbook. We at Skatter Tech hope to get a sample unit as soon as possible for an in-depth analysis and review in case you want our reassurance before you make the plunge.
Links: enTourage eDGe