We've been keeping abreast of Spring Design's Alex e-reader as it's a promising little hybrid machine. It recently dropped out of the news though, prompting concerns about its future. All is well, however, and it'll go on sale in a month.
The Alex's dual-screen e-ink and full-functioning, full-color Android screen place it as a serious competitor for the Barnes and Noble Nook (which itself faces allegations of plagiarism from Spring Design,) and combined with both bricks-and-mortar and online store support from Borders, it's got great potential. Which is why it's good news that it'll arrive in just four weeks on April 14. This is the Wi-Fi only version, and you'll have to wait until June for the 3G-enabled one, which will arrive at around the same time as Border's e-bookstore support kicks in.
So here's the problem: Early adopters of the Alex will likely suffer buyer's remorse more acutely than typical first-edition buyers of any device. Worse still, the Alex's $400 is not so very far below the entry-barrier price for Apple's iPad, which is a more glamorous, more functional, and far more capable machine with a gargantuan ecosystem already in place. It'll hit U.S. stores just before the Alex too, and we know that the iBooks system will be available at the same time--there'll be no three month waiting period for iPad users to get their hands on dedicated e-book support. One may not have placed iPad and Alex in quite such a head-to-head battle before, but with Alex's delay it seems likely its potential to steal significant market share will suffer.
To hear how well Alex performs in the market in a month, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. You can also link via the QR code on the left if your smartphone is handy.