Spring Design Alex First Impressions

So my unit arrived today, and I'm going to post my first impressions. My battery died fairly quickly even though it said it was fully charged, so this psot won't be that complete. I used it for about 10 minutes before I realized:

The Alex is not an E-reader.

No, seriously, it's not. The Alex is a dual screen web tablet. It does so much more than read ebooks.

hardware

The Alex has a 6" epaper screen and a 3.5" LCD screen. There are 2 buttons on either side of the LCD screen. I've heard a couple complaints about the fact both page turn buttons are not on the same side. Now that I've used it, I understand why they did that. I think you're supposed to hold the Alex in both hands, or they don't expect you to need it that much.

I can comfortably hold the Alex in either hand with my thumb between the screens, 4 fingers behind, and the Alex's corner in the palm of my hand. I'd feel safe carrying it one handed on a commute.

Reading

I didn't get to use it very long(battery), but I'm really impressed with the annotation abilities.  I didn't have time to see everything but there were a lot of options and I successfully attached a voice note. Yes, the Alex has a microphone.

Browsing

Once again, I'm impressed. I could display a webpage on both screens at once. Note: the same page was shown twice, not shown split between the 2 screens. Again, not enough time to really get into it.

It also comes with a Youtube app.

key shortcuts

I haven't read the manual, but I think there are some shortcuts that can jump you out of the browser. I was pressing stuff in random pairs and at least one worked. Shiny.

What's in the Box

The Alex was shipped in a UPS envelope (in its retail box, of course), not a shipping box. I'm not pleased. Besides the device, the box also contained a charger, USB cable, a paper manual, and a case, which is crap. It looks like it cost about $1.50 to make, and it's so flimsy that it can only protect against scuff marks. I don't think it would be enough to protect the Alex if I dropped it.

Nook vs Alex

UPDATE from 25 April: I just downloaded the Nook firmware update, and I've changed my mind. The Nook has improved significantly.

If you own a Nook, I'd sell it and get an Alex. Do it today so you beat the rush. The Alex is that much better. I'm actually not joking. The Alex feels like Spring Design put a lot of thought into it.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

4 Comments

  1. Lynn22 April, 2010

    I appreciate your quick first impressions on your Spring Design Alex ereader yesterday, but do you have any second impressions for us today??

    Thanks.

    Reply
  2. KenJr22 April, 2010

    When I get careless and allow my Kindle battery to die I plug it in and read it while it’s charging. Are you saying you can’t do that with the Alex?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great22 April, 2010

      No, I can read the Alex while it’s charging. It’s just that I left the charger behind when I went to get a snack and write a post. The battery meter read 100%, so I didn’t bother with the 8 hour charge that you’re supposed to do. Foolish, I know.

      Reply
  3. […] ereader also had a clone, the Spring Design Alex, which was announced a few weeks before and released a few months later. The Alex had a very […]

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