Register Guidelines E-Books Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Go Back   MobileRead Forums > E-Book Readers > Android Devices > Spring Design Alex

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 05-01-2010, 02:42 PM   #1
Nate the great
Sir Penguin of Edinburgh
Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Nate the great's Avatar
 
Posts: 10,373
Karma: 3161371
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: DC Metro area
Device: Shake a stick plus 1
Review: Spring Design Alex

Author's Note: The following is a repost of my review of the Spring Design Alex. Please do me the favor of reading it on my blog. BTW, you might also want to read my other posts on the Alex. They cover my first and second impressions of the device, and that's where you'll find my opinion on the hardware. I also found an unboxing video the other day (I think it's worth watching).

So my Alex arrived last week, and I've had a lot of fun playing with it. I have to say that this was an easy review to write. I've found very few things wrong with the Alex, and in general, I like it.

Browsing

You can browse with just the LCD screen, and it will feel much like your standard, vanilla, Android browsing experience. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But then there is something that the Alex can do that no one else can. You can display a web page on both the LCD and epaper screen. You can't interact with the page as shown on the epaper screen, though; it's just there for display.

I do like browsing with the epaper screen. Learning how to do it was easy, and I rarely made mistakes. If I wasn't wedded to my laptop, I'd probably use the Alex for some of my browsing (RSS feeds, blogs, forums).

Email

I had high hopes for this. didn't work for me. All of my email is tied into my Gmail account, and the Alex refused to accept the security certificates from Google. And do you know what's really odd? I can still log in to Gmail with the browser. This was a waste of time. The email client isn't very good, and it only works on the LCD screen. I much prefer using the browser to access Gmail. That way I can use the epaper screen as well as the LCD.

BTW, I'd had trouble before because the time and date were wrong on my Alex. I didn't realize that would cause problem.

Apps

Yes, you can install third party apps on the Alex. Some will not work, and you can't use any of them on the epaper screen. When you use an app, it will feel like you're using it on an Android phone. It's too small for me.

But it's still a nice feature. I've installed the eReader Android app, and I like that I can have 2 ebooks open at once. Another good use would be to have Twitter (or some other social networking app) open while reading an ebook. You could tweet while reading. Again, it's not for me, but I can see the value in it.

The Reading Experience

If you've looked at pictures of the Alex, I'm sure you've noticed that it's longer than most other 6' e-readers. If you're concerned that it might be awkward to use, don't be. I think the page turn buttons are just right for holding the Alex in my right hand. I can't hold it in my left, true, but that's fine by me. It's quite good as an e-reader. I think that will satisfy almost everyone.

BTW, you can hold it in your left hand if you leave the LCD screen on. There's a white icon on the screen that's labeled “ePUB”. It acts as a right page turn button.

The in-book menu takes a little getting used to. There's the white icon on the left, and on the right is the book title and author and a slider bar that shows your current location in the book. There is a row of 12 icons along the bottom: Library, table of contents,the annotation options, dictionary, font size, go to page, and ad to collection.

The row of icons turned out to be a better idea than I originally thought. I could tell at a glance what each icon did, and even though they're not all on the screen at once, it was easy to scroll the row to find the one I wanted.

The Alex has quite a lot of annotation options: bookmark, highlight, text note, voice memo, and you can link to external files (audio, video, PDF) as well as linking to web pages. At first I was concerned about the in book menu; the icons are small and I thought I'd have trouble selecting the right one. I was wrong. It was surprisingly easy to use, and very rarely did I mess up.

I've read several ebooks on the Alex, and I've tried out all the annotation options. In general, I like it both as a basic reader and for its annotation abilities. I did find one problem, though. This is a small niggle, but I quickly learned to turn off the LCD screen when not in use. The brightness of the LCD really bugged me when I was trying to read off the epaper screen.

Reading Addendum

I discovered last night that the Alex has a second fully functional reading mode. I went to see a movie last night, and of course I brought the Alex with me so I could read during the trailers. When the lights dimmed, I turned on the LCD screen and kept reading during the opening credits. I synced the LCD screen so it showed the same contents as the epaper (scrolling was required). I tapped the screen to turn the page.

This second mode isn't going to win out over the epaper screen, but it's nice that Spring Design gave us the option.

A Second Reading Addendum

Someone pointed out that I forgot to discuss specific format support. Epub support is great, PDF not so much. You cannot use all the neat annotation features with PDFs. Also, the Alex does not reflow PDFs.

Library

The Alex doesn't have the best library interface, but it's pretty good. There are 5 menu options: recent downloads, my collections, titles, authors, and latest read. You can sort the title list by author, title, or date. The author list is an actual index of authors, not just another list of the titles. I'm glad it's there because that's how I like to organize my library ebooks. You can also search the contents of the library by title or author.

On the downside, I did find a quirk with the library: it can't see folders. It's not just that you can't use a folder inside the library; it's that the software can't see folders at all. If you copy a folder full of ebooks on to the Alex, they will not be seen and added to by the library. Weird, huh?

But the library works well, so it's not a big deal.

Bookstore

As you probably know, the Alex has Wifi and you can download ebooks from the web. In order to make this easier, Spring Design put a bookstore on the Alex. Now, I expected to see the bookstore. But I didn't expect that it lists multiple ebook sources, including several that only carry free ebooks: Feedbooks, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg. Yes, all those sites are available online, but this makes it a lot easier for the average user to find ebooks. This was a pleasant surprise.

BTW, the bookstore isn't an app. Clicking on one of the stores takes you to the website. The bookstore experience is web browsing, basically.

Conclusion

I do like the Alex. It has a solid hardware design and it's both easy to use and very capable. If you buy one, I bet you'll be very happy with it. On the other hand, it costs $400 and I'm not sure it's worth the money.

Last edited by Nate the great; 05-02-2010 at 01:56 PM.
Nate the great is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 04:11 PM   #2
kejia
Enthusiast
kejia began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 35
Karma: 40
Join Date: Apr 2010
Device: alex ereader
Very nice review. Only one caveat -- for me, it is worth the money. It is my one-and-only-ereader though, and I do not have a smart-phone or ipod-touch. So for me it is an ereader with benefits, and is worth the extra cost.

Quote:
I've installed the eReader Android app, and I like that I can have 2 ebooks open at once.
How did you do this? If you used the browser, what site did you download the app from?

Last edited by kejia; 05-01-2010 at 04:14 PM.
kejia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 04:16 PM   #3
Nate the great
Sir Penguin of Edinburgh
Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Nate the great's Avatar
 
Posts: 10,373
Karma: 3161371
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: DC Metro area
Device: Shake a stick plus 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by kejia View Post
How did you do this? If you used the browser, what site did you download the app from?
Here:
www.ereader.com/android

You'll need to go into settings and disable the block on installing apps.
Nate the great is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 04:23 PM   #4
kejia
Enthusiast
kejia began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 35
Karma: 40
Join Date: Apr 2010
Device: alex ereader
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
Here:
www.ereader.com/android

You'll need to go into settings and disable the block on installing apps.
Thanks! Where does it install the apps, by the way? One more thing --would you be so kind as to recommend a text-editor app? Notepad clone is fine, but so is vi.
kejia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
Nate the great
Sir Penguin of Edinburgh
Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Nate the great's Avatar
 
Posts: 10,373
Karma: 3161371
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: DC Metro area
Device: Shake a stick plus 1
I'm using Text Edit at the moment, but it's really basic.

You might want to look at Docs2Go, but it might be more than you need.
Nate the great is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 04:54 PM   #6
BearMountainBooks
Maria Schneider
BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.BearMountainBooks ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
BearMountainBooks's Avatar
 
Posts: 2,018
Karma: 18017570
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Device: 3g Kindle Keyboard
Thanks--great review. I love these reviews of readers/devices.
BearMountainBooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 07:17 PM   #7
Kosst Amojan
Groupie
Kosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to beholdKosst Amojan is a splendid one to behold
 
Kosst Amojan's Avatar
 
Posts: 199
Karma: 19597
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Washington DC
Device: Nook Simple Touch Reader
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
When the lights dimmed, I turned on the LCD screen and kept reading during the opening credits.
I would have thrown popcorn at you

...but seriously, when the lights dim all that should be put away unless you're up by the projector and no one is either behind or in the same row as you are.
Kosst Amojan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2010, 07:33 PM   #8
Nate the great
Sir Penguin of Edinburgh
Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Nate the great ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Nate the great's Avatar
 
Posts: 10,373
Karma: 3161371
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: DC Metro area
Device: Shake a stick plus 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosst Amojan View Post
I would have thrown popcorn at you

...but seriously, when the lights dim all that should be put away unless you're up by the projector and no one is either behind or in the same row as you are.
There was another 5 minutes of trailers before the movie (and the theater was mostly empty anyway).
Nate the great is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2010, 12:17 AM   #9
UnraisedArc
Junior Member
UnraisedArc began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 8
Karma: 10
Join Date: Jul 2009
Device: none
Do anybody know what that dual-screened device is in the background of the picture of his review, the one behind the nook and the alex?

EDIT: Just found out, it's the Entourage Edge.

Last edited by UnraisedArc; 05-09-2010 at 12:20 AM. Reason: Answered my own question.
UnraisedArc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 02:57 PM   #10
MarbleMadness
Junior Member
MarbleMadness began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 4
Karma: 10
Join Date: Aug 2005
Device: Samsung i600
Here is another review of the Alex:

http://www.mobiletechreview.com/gadg...ook-Reader.htm

Just after I got the nook! Now I'm not sure...
MarbleMadness is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2010, 05:16 PM   #11
r001
Junior Member
r001 began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 2
Karma: 10
Join Date: May 2010
Device: Alex ereader
Here is a list of features that the Alex reader does not yet have. Here you can also vote how important for you those feature would be. You can also see here what other people want to have.
r001 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2010, 06:10 PM   #12
NNolan
Compulsive Gadget Geek
NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.NNolan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
NNolan's Avatar
 
Posts: 310
Karma: 1193000
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Almost Canada
Device: Alex, Sonys, Kindles, iThings,GTab,Thrive 7,Nook STGL,Kobos,Fire HDXs
r001 - we've got library books working on the Alex now, so you can take that off your list.
NNolan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2010, 10:30 PM   #13
inflavia
Junior Member
inflavia began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 2
Karma: 10
Join Date: Aug 2010
Device: none
I was taking a look on some recent Alex reviews and it surprised me that it doesn´t have 3G connection. Is the official website wrong about it or is it a new Alex version?

https://www.springdesign.com/us/feat...dex.action#top ->Connect topic
inflavia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2010, 11:02 PM   #14
inflavia
Junior Member
inflavia began at the beginning.
 
Posts: 2
Karma: 10
Join Date: Aug 2010
Device: none
duh, now i see 3G version is not available so far
inflavia is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Alex de Spring Design disponible. Randy11 Autres liseuses 1 03-17-2010 06:13 AM
Hands On with Spring Design Alex Dulin's Books News 23 01-08-2010 11:04 AM
Alex (droid e-reader) by spring design d2photo Alternative Devices 2 11-29-2009 11:56 PM
Spring Design announces the Alex pilotbob News 0 10-19-2009 06:45 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:38 PM.


MobileRead.com is a privately owned, operated and funded community.