The Spring Design Alex, introduced in late 2009, died today. The causes aren’t exactly known, but it is said that the company’s investor “stopped the money.” We surmise its $399 price point at least put it on life support. The Alex lived a rather short life, in which it battled Barnes & Noble’s Nook on shelves as well as in courts. The E-ink and LCD e-reader did, however, live to be rooted and sideloaded with apps. We’ll always remember the Spring Design Alex as a brave Android, dual-screen e-reader willing to venture into tablet territories. Spring Design has confirmed the passing, but hasn’t said if it plans to bring more children into the world. We wish them the best in this tough time.
First, they ported Ubuntu to the Nook Color, and now the intrepid hackers at the XDA Developers Forum have overclocked its stock 800MHz processor to run at speeds up to 1GHz. The mod allows users to have their cake and eat it too, as the custom kernel ups the speed of the CPU while running it at a lower voltage, which means longer battery life — though we don’t know exactly how much longer. Apparently, the developer who wrote the code found that the system became unstable at the 1GHz level, but there were no such problems at 950MHz and below. Hit the source link to download the kernel and see for yourself what a supercharged Nook Color can do.
We have all ideas that the 70b will look mighty weak after next year’s spate of slates, tablets and readers hit the public view at CES, but with a price tag as diminutive as €99.99 ($130), who cares about bells and / or whistles? Spotted first in the FCC’s lairs a few weeks ago, the Archos 70b e-reader is now up for pre-order in Europe, boasting a 7-inch WVGA touchpanel, 4GB of storage, 802.11b/g WiFi and an SD expansion slot. We’re told that the battery will keep things humming for around ten hours (or up to 18 if using it strictly as a music player with the screen flipped off), and if we had to guess, we’d say it’ll probably make the trip through the Panama Canal in Q1 2011. Question is: will you care?
You had to know the hacking community was going to have a field day with the Nook Color — a $249 Android Tablet hiding behind with a thin e-reader coating. Indeed it didn’t take long to get rooted nor for Android 2.2 to get installed on there, but that particular hack comes with an interesting potential side-effect: small-scale thermonuclear explosions. Enabling FroYo requires disabling the device’s battery monitoring process, the very one that would be responsible for shutting down the device before the cells start overheating and, ultimately, going critical. Yeah it’s unlikely, but it could happen. Meanwhile, another hack has enabled the Android Market, but those instructions begin with a very daunting warning: “Very smart people have failed at this. If the following instructions confuse you, you might want to wait until an easier method has been developed.”
And, thankfully, there might be a much easier way coming, with Barnes & Noble reportedly telling Smartphone Mag that Android 2.2 will be officially coming to the Nook Color in January. Yes, Android 2.3 is what’s happening, but this is still an exciting upgrade as it will finally also allow access to a traditional Android home screen and even enable the Android Market.
Update: Okay, cancel that order for an asbestos carrying case. One of the developers of the Nook Color root wrote in to let us know that there is a secondary temperature monitor which should keep things below the ignition point. Hack away — or just wait a month.
Update 2: Barnes & Noble PR just got back to us to reiterate that Nook Color’s own shop will begin adding apps in early 2011 and that there are currently no plans to enable Android Market. Move along, nothing to see here, folks.
Barnes and Noble’s just made version 1.5 of its Nook e-reader’s firmware available. What can Nook owners expect from this latest upgrade? Well, the company says it boasts improved page refresh rates about 50 percent faster than the previous version — which is good news as we found it to be slower than its competitors. The update — which is available for both the 3G and WiFi versions — is also Barnes and Noble’s largest to date for the readers, and includes other fixes such as syncing across devices like the Nook’s various apps (finally!), customizable folders for your library, password protection options, improved search functions and battery performance. That sure does sound like a big update to us, so go get it if you’re a Nook user! Full press release is below.
The $249 Nook Color has decided its November 19th shipping date wasn’t soon enough so it’s jumped ahead of it with pre-order deliveries starting today. Barnes and Noble’s Nook-with-a-hook will be cheering those who reserved or pre-ordered it as shipping ramps up through this week, and there’ll even be some “very limited” quantities that you’ll be able to buy at retail locations like B&N, Best Buy, Walmart, and Books-A-Million stores. All of them should be getting live units for the curious to try out the Nook Color as well. As to the older, less chromatically able Nooks, B&N is promising a firmware update next week. Skip past the break for the full PR.
It’s hard to believe we’re already writing a review of the Nook Color, considering Barnes & Noble’s first foray into the e-reader world was revealed just over a year ago. In that time, the company has gone from no presence in e-books to owning 20 percent of the marketshare, and now has moved from a somewhat sluggish hybrid E-Ink / LCD device to a full color, tablet-like product. The Nook Color is definitely a major step forward, boasting a completely revamped, Android-based OS, and a big push into the children’s book and periodical market (particularly full color magazines). Both of these spaces have yet to be mined successfully by players like Apple and Amazon — and it’s clear Barnes & Noble is aware of the stakes. Beyond book reading, the Nook Color potentially offers a tablet alternative that can (or will be able to) do much of what is possible on an iPad or Galaxy Tab. In fact, the company plans to launch its own Android tablet app store in the first quarter of 2011, providing a consistent, compatible application experience that could get the jump on other Android tablet-makers’ plans (hello Samsung). Of course, this is a fierce market, and with a $249 price tag, Barnes & Noble has to play to win on every front. So, is the Nook Color the next logical step in e-readers? Is it a healthy alternative to more expensive tablets? And can it cement the prominent bookseller’s place in a hotly contested new space? Read on for all those answers in the full Engadget review!
While Amazon and Sony are still hemming and hawing about taking their ebook-reading adventure into the color E Ink realm, China’s Hanvon is plunging straight in. The New York Times is reporting that the company intends to grace this year’s FPD International trade show with the news that a 10-inch touchscreen e-reader, equipped with the first color-displaying panels from E Ink Holdings, will be arriving in the Chinese market in March. That’s a little later than the originally promised “by the end of 2010,” but it’s not like anyone else is beating Hanvon to the market. Pricing in China is expected at around $440, and though there are no plans to bring it Stateside just yet, we imagine Hanvon would do so quite willingly if it can reach the volume necessary to offer up a more palatable price. And we’d be very happy if it does, the Nook Color‘s been looking a little lonely in the color ebook reader room.