Like the E-ink smartphone cover which Alcatel teased back in September, this was a very early prototype which can't do very much. Of the 3 buttons on the front only the page turn buttons worked. There is a home button, but it didn't do anything.
In fact, the device itself couldn't do much, but unlike Engadget, I was able to get the Magic Flip to work as an ereader - until it decided to rest itself. It can't do anything else yet, but i was told that Alcatel is planning to let you send info to the MagicFlip so you can use the paper-like qualities of the persistent E-ink screen, thus saving battery life on your smartphone or tablet.
This was a really cool device, and I was frankly surprised at how small and thin it was. It could indeed be an excellent complement to a smartphone, even more so than the txtr beagle (a 5" ereader with a similar smartphone companion design). The MagicFlip is lacking the ungainly bulge found on the back of the txtr beagle, and that's going to make it a lot easier to slip this ereader in and out of a pocket.
It's scheduled to go into production in the first quarter of this year; I don't know the retail price.
Update: here is a video showing the e-Card, as the MagicFlip is now known: