A few times now, my favorite daily deals site Woot.com has had this little gizmo called the enTourage Pocket eDGe Dual eReader Tablet. It’s basically an eReader attached to a tablet. At first glance, this little guy didn’t look like anything I would be interested in having for myself. However, I did think it would make a good Christmas gift for my grandmother. So, for about $79, I went ahead and ordered one. After a week of waiting, it finally arrived. Here are my thoughts about it.
To begin with, the form factor is definitely different. This thing operates just like a book. It opens from the middle just like turning back the cover of a book. Once opened, you are presented with an e-book reader on the left and an Android based tablet on the right. The “binding” of the device includes a fairly good size speaker which actually has some pretty amazing sound quality. The eDGe includes both full-size and mini USB ports as well as a micro-SD card slot. The device supports bluetooth connectivity as well as WiFi for 802 b & g. It has an 1.2GHz processor which isn’t much compared to most of today’s tablets, but it’s still pretty rockin’ for the what it is. The device includes 3GB internal storage which is quite a bit for a tablet. But, with the addition of the micro-SD slot and USB capabilities, storage is not an issue.
The eReader is pretty standard, but comes with a little extra. Using e-ink technology, the eReader is extremely easy to read and very light weight on the battery. It has navigation buttons on the bezel around the edge, but can also be manipulated using an included stylus for use with the eReader touch screen. Having the stylus included makes for easy note taking by drawing directly on to the eReader screen.
The tablet side isn’t quite up to par with other tablets today. But, it’s still pretty nice, especially for the price I paid for it. Earlier versions of the device were running Android Donut. However, enTourage did manage to push out Android Froyo to the last batch of devices. Even though it’s Froyo, the OS is still rock solid. The screen is very responsive and navigation is extremely smooth. The eDGe comes pre-installed with several cool applications that can be extended via the Android Marketplace.
One of the things I like about this dual-device setup is that the 2 screens can be treated autonomously, but also have the ability to communicate with each other. For example, on the tablet side, I installed the Amazon Kindle app and downloaded some of my books to the device. Then, I navigated to my library on the tablet, clicked a book, and launched it on the eReader screen from the tablet screen.
Unlike some of the other “cheap / inexpensive” tablets I’ve messed with, web browsing and networking on this guy seems to be very fast. On one of my other tablets, the browser seems to take forever to launch. Once it finally does open, the pages seem to take forever to load. Not on this one. On the eDGE, the browser fires the second you click the icon and the pages seem to load almost as fast as they do on my laptop.
Now for the bad news. Let’s start with the hardware layout. Since the device is in a book-ish form factor, you have 2 “lids” which can sometimes become a problem, especially when considering true tablets are just one-sided. However, having the 2 pieces does allow you to fold the device so that one side can stand up for things like watching movies. The 2 lids also fold backwards onto each other, giving you that “true” tablet feel.
Another issue I have is that the camera, as nice as it is to be included, is located just above the eReader screen. Since the camera video is displayed on the tablet screen, I think it would’ve made more sense to put the camera on the same panel as the tablet. Having the camera where it is does allow you to fold the 2 panels backwards so that the camera is facing away from the user. But, this could’ve also been accomplished by simply placing the camera on the backside of the tablet. Well, at least it does include a camera which can’t be said for many of the other tablets out there today.
Now it’s time for the really bad news. The enTourage company no longer exists. So, if you’re expecting to get any kind of support for this device, I don’t think you’ll have much luck. For some reason, this device wasn’t accepted enough which lead to the device’s EOL. Because the company no longer exists, their website no longer exists either. This is where I almost returned the device. When you first turn it on, you are greeted with a welcome screen that requires you to register your device. On step 6 of the registration, the device attempts to “phone home” for registration. Since the website doesn’t exist, you will always get a network connection error code 80 message. I tried 10 times to get the device to register, the whole time thinking it might have been something to do wtih my wireless router or the WPA2 encryption I was running on it. Nothing I did seemed to work. But then there was hope.
After a little bit of digging on the interwebernets, I came across a YouTube video that showed me how to bypass the registration screen. To do that, take your stylus and touch once in the upper-left corner of the tablet screen just below the white bar at the top. Then, touch once in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Then the bottom-right corner of the screen. And, once more in the upper-right corner of the screen just below the white bar again. If done correctly, you should be taken directly to the Android dashboard where you’ll never be bothered with the registration screen again.
I admit that the whole unpassable registration screen thing was extremely annoying. But, once I got past that frustration, I’ve been nothing but pleased with this thing. In fact, I think I’m going to keep it for myself and find another gift for my grandmother for Christmas. Hopefully I can find another one of these for sale before then so that I can get her one of her own.
Oh, one more thing. While playing around with the video playback, I thought I’d attempt to plug in my USB-powered Western Digital harddrive that is connected to my WD Media Player since it has most of my movies on it. When I plugged it into the full-size USB port on the eDGe, the device was immediately recognized and mounted as a device. At that point, I was able to open my library and play a movie directly from the harddrive. I did the same thing using a thumbdrive. So, like I mentioned before, storage for this thing is definitely not an issue.
Anyways, if you’ve been debating about buying a tablet or at least would like to get your feet wet with one at an extremely low price, and if you can actually find one of these for sale, I would definitely recommend buying one. It’s very cool and definitely worth the $79 I paid for mine. I’ve been very pleased with mine so far and I believe you will feel the same. If you don’t mind paying full price for one, you can pick one up from Amazon via the link below. If you do get one or have one already, I’d like to hear from you in the comments below.
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