Hands-On With The EnTourage EDGe Dualbook

So many gadgets around, so little cash with which to buy them. That's where convergence comes into play - and the enTourage eDGe dualbook is a great example. I'd get one myself, if only they weren't so damn big.

It looks like a laptop, with the left side devoted to a 9.7-inch e-paper screen, and the right side a 10.1-inch colour LCD. Obviously, the left side is for reading ebooks on, and the right side has all the functions on a laptop - but running on Android. You're able to download apps to it, and with any luck the eDGe will attract some custom apps which will suit the integrated nature of this dualbook.

It's not just half an ereader, half a tablet. The two sides actually talk to each other very effectively, with one example being when you highlight a word or sentence on the ereader side. On the right side, a box pops up asking if you'd like to google the word, search for it on the dictionary, look it up on Wikipedia, and so on. Any notations you make on the ereader columns will be transferred to the tablet side for storage, and if the book contains pictures, you can choose to view them on the colour tablet half.

You can either hold the eDGe like a book, with both screens in front of you, or fold it back on itself, so you see just one side.

The ereader works just as well as the Kindle, in my opinion. Flipping pages was easy - and fast - with the page buttons located to the left of the screen. The screen is very large, so you actually get quite a bit of white space located around the text, for writing in. You can flip to other chapters by pressing the stylus (which slots neatly into the back) on a bar at the bottom of the screen. Or, load the library function on the right side of the screen, and choose chapters there.

Using the tablet side is as easy as you expect it to be. It runs Android, so everything's really user-friendly. The touchscreen was really responsive for a resistive panel, in the 20 or so minutes I played with one I didn't have any problem opening icons. The actual machine runs pretty fast, I didn't notice any notable lag or programs freezing. To input text, there's a virtual keyboard (which fills half the LCD screen), or you can use the stylus, and write on the ereader side - it converts it into text. Or, plug in a keyboard via USB or Bluetooth.

Right, so here's the thing - I was bowled over by how many features the eDGe had. For $US499, it's incredible. But I'd wait until they make a smaller version, the thing is just too big to read books on, you can't really hold it up in one hand (it's quite heavy), and as the page buttons are located to the left, you have to use your left hand. It's a touch awkward to use, unless it's laid flat on a table in front of you.

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