EnTourage EDGe “Dualbook” Tries to Bite Apple's ISlate

A lot of new ebook ereader makers are trying to beat the ballyhooed Apple iWhateverthey'llcallit, due to be announced in 16 days (but who's counting) to the punch, but it's likely a needless rush. Ereaders will be a quarter to a third the price of the Apple iWhoziwhatzit, and will have their own dynamic market. After all, most cellphones phones sold are cheap talking/texting models, not the iPhone despite the sturm und drang.

Which brings us to the enTourage eDGe - that's their pretentious spelling, not mine - "dualbook," which is more than an ereader and less than the Apple iUknowwhat, and, at $490 when its available next month, is priced between a dedicated ereader and a tablet PC.

eDGe edge, seemingly, is its two screens - a 9.7-inch E Ink epaper ereader screen on the left and a 10.1-inch color LCD touchscreen tablet on the right. The right LCD side runs Android, but it's unclear both which version and if eDGe can run any of the apps currently available for Android phones. You can surf the net, email, play videos, view photos, and a pop-up touch keypad supplies text capabilities. On the left, you can write on the screen with a stylus. When not being used, the two screens fold together facing each other, creating what looks like a netbook from the outside.

You can fold the eDGe backward so each screen faces out, but we're not sure if the touchscreen LCD turns it self off when you've got the E Ink screen facing up.

The two eDGe screens speak to each other. You choose an ebook from your side-loaded EPUB book library on the LCD, and read it on the epaper screen. Tap an imbedded picture on the left, and it appears in color on the right.

Technically, eDGe has no 3G whispernet connectivity, but does have WiFi (b/g, no n), Bluetooth 2.1, an SD card slot, a 3 MP camera/video recorder, stereo speakers in the hinge, 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, and it runs for six hours on its rechargeable battery. The specs don't indicate a longer battery life for the E Ink side.

Most folks agree an epaper screen is easier on the eyes when reading a book. eDGe's 9.7-inch screen is larger, which means fewer page turns, than the 6-inch screens found on the Kindle, Nook, et all.

But to us, the eDGe seems like an inelegant - and bulky - alternative to both an ebook and Apple's iTabletslatepad, or any tablet PC. There is some clever - but not really compelling - interplay between the two sides. Plus, at 3 pounds, its twice as heavy as an individual ebook or tablet PC. If you only want to read and not do whatever you do on a tablet (and vice versa), you'll be carrying around a lot of dead weight, which defeats the whole portable purpose.

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