Device update: The latest multifunction innovations

News on HTC Desire Z, enTourage eDGe and Dell's Convertible Duo.

Gadget manufacturers are busy putting the finishing touches on their holiday battle plans, and that leaves us in a lull until things pick up in October.

In the meantime, I’ve still been able to dig up a few exciting announcements and breaking news stories. In last week’s update I referenced a study by Informa Telecoms & Media. While that study reported large growth in the ereader market, it also predicted that by 2014 dedicated ereaders would eventually lose favor to multifunctional portable devices. The material include in this week’s update shows strong support for that conclusion.

HTC Desire Z Android phone adds ereader

htc_desire_z.jpgWhile previously known for their work with Microsoft smartphones, since 2009 the Taiwan-based manufacturer has switched its core function to the Android operating system. The latest model HTC has announced is the Desire Z. Based on Android 2.2 (Froyo), the device will feature a 5-megapixel camera, 1.5 GB internal storage, and an expandable microSD memory slot. Since the device is primarily a smartphone, it has a wide variety of connectivity options including 3G, GPRS, EDGE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 2.1. It also has a standard micro USB 2.0 adapter.

The Desire Z will come preloaded with a variety of HTC widgets, including an ereader. The coolest features HTC Sense provides come into play when the unfortunate occurs. Are you prone to misplacing your phone? Ever had to find your phone when it’s in silent mode? Well, through HTCSense.com you can send a message to your phone to ring loudly, so you can find out which stack of papers it’s hidden beneath. It can even help you pinpoint the phone’s location and see it on a map. How cool is that? If you actually lose your phone, HTC Sense can lock the phone and erase all of your personal data. You can even post a reward message to the locked screen, in case a stranger finds it and wants to help reunite you with your lost baby.

enTourage eDGe dual-display ereader caught in wild

entourage.jpgWhile the enTourage eDGe is not scheduled to be available until later in September, this week photos of the device appeared on the Internet and quickly fueled speculation that the device would begin shipping soon. Considered one of the first devices to incorporate dual screens, the eDGe can function as a tablet or a notepad.

Weighing approximately three pounds, the Android-powered device will be available in 3G and WiFi 802.11 b/g models. With one screen you will get a 10.1″ touchscreen, which will also be Wacom-pen enabled. On the other the enTourage eDGe will feature a 9.7-inch E-Ink display capable of showing 8 shades of grey. Internally the device will have 4 GB of storage, with 1 GB reserved for the system. It will come with an SD slot for additional storage.

Not only will the device serve as a nearly perfect proxy for reading with the screens able to open clam-shell like, the touchscreen can rotate 180 degrees to turn the device into a full-fledged tablet. For input, the device comes with a stylus for input on the reader and the tablet as well as a virtual keyboard. A separate keyboard can plug in to one of the device’s two USB ports. In addition to ereading, the enTourage eDGe will be capable of audio playback of the most common formats as well as video playback, include Adobe Flash Lite.

With an expected price tag way above most e-readers, $549, it’s hard not to acknowledge that you’re getting much more than just an ereader, a tablet, or a netbook. In fact, you’re getting all three, which makes the device very appealing for anyone looking to get a solid ereader as well as a multipurpose computer.

Dell’s Convertible Duo tablet

dellinspironduo.jpgStaying with the multiple configuration devices, Dell has announced a computer that serves as both a tablet and a netbook. The Inspiron Duo is a 10-inch netbook at heart, but through the use of two axis points that are hidden within each side of the display, a simple flip of the display converts the Duo into a tablet. The design has been labeled “netvertible.”

While the Duo was unveiled at the recent Intel Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, not many details about the hardware, availability, or pricing were announced. What is known is that within the Duo lies a dual-core Atom N550 processor running Windows 7 Home Premium.

Other news

Originally unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January 2010, recent reports indicate that the Blio eReader software will be ready for Windows starting on Sept. 28, 2010. Users of iOS and Android devices will have to wait, as there’s no official timeline for Blio coming to those platforms.

In other ereader application news, the Gutenberg eReader application began shipping this week from the Google Android Market. For $2.99 the Gutenberg application allows users to access free e-books on demand from the Project Gutenberg catalog. With built-in search capabilities, users can search by author, title, or subject. If necessary, users can even use a full Google search for titles. They can also browse through the library by genre. Customers can try the application for 24 hours before buying.

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