Spring Design's Alex And B&N's Nook

Oct 23, 2009
Updated • Dec 1, 2012
Google Android

The eBook reader market has been growing a lot lately. Don’t take my word for it, just count how many new eBook readers we have seen recently and how many new companies have stepped into what used to be (almost) Amazon’s prerogative. The excitement is building up so much that people have already started bringing out similar products and are vying for your attention.

Barnes and Noble has finally made its new eBook reader official. But we already knew pretty much everything about it way before it came out, with the final details falling leaking into place hours before the actual launch event took place.

But before B&N’s Nook (that’s what it’s called) had a chance to see daylight, another company knew that it had to do something or else it would be lost in the landslide of Nok coverage. This company is Spring Design and they have an eBook reader too. It is called Alex and it is very similar to the Nook.

The Nook and the Alex are both dual screen devices. They both have Android powered smaller LCD touchscreens at the bottom and the e-Ink screen on top. The LCD touchscreens on both turn off when you start reading on them. And they have similar design and dimensions.

They both have a speaker, support MP3 playback, support EPUB and PDF and a multitouch touchscreen that supports gestures.

Then there are the differences. First, the Nook is actually out and you can check it out at Nook.com, while Alex is still in the labs without any word when the thing will be released. Spring Design had some rendered shots and then followed up with a wobbly video of the thing in action.

Alex has a ‘read’ button between the two screens and it works to zap whatever’s on the touchscreen on to the reader screen and turns off the LCD screen. This is as true for books, as it is for web pages. So if you want to read this article on the Alex, you can browse to this page and hit the ‘read’ button to ‘print’ the article on to the reader screen. It will be rendered exactly but everything will be in 12-shades of grey.

You know… 12-shades of grey will actually make a pretty cool name for a book or an album. Never mind.


The Barnes&Noble Nook does not have this feature because the company’s president Willian Lynch himself tells you that a browser on an eBook reader is ‘clumsy’. Fair enough. So the Nook is limited in that sense. Alex’s video presenter clearly says that it has standard Android running and hence has all the different apps that you would expect it to have, including what looked like a fully functional mobile browser that can render full web pages.

Even though Alex’s ‘Reader’ app has a shopping option, we are quite sure it won’t be something that competes with Amazon or B&N. So the Nook has the upper hand with its exclusive content and integration with B&N’s eBook store. Although, may be being free to choose your own source all the time is not such a bad thing.

B&N charges for RSS feeds, while the Alex will probably get them to you for free because it has a more flexible Android. You can directly print the RSS articles on to the reader screen for reading. You won’t be able to click links but I don’t think you will be able to do that on the Nook’s EPUB’d RSS feeds either.

When comparing these two, you have to look past the striking resemblance to see how different they actually are. I started out thinking that the B&N has the clear upper hand here. But if the Alex is released in to the market before the Nook or the current Kindle is upgraded to be more flexible, we might have a compelling convergent device on our hands.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell us which one you like better.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm


    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm


    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am

        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am


    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm


    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.


    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.