The Entourage Edge ($499) has all the makings of a technological success story. Unfortunately, as badly as I'd love to tell you that a start-up company combined a large-format e-book reader and Android tablet to create the textbook of the future, the reality just doesn't match up.
Instead, the interesting story here is a case study of when a convergence device gets it wrong. As someone who spent the past three years watching MP3 players slowly get devoured by smartphones and portable gaming devices, I'm particularly aware of the effect of convergence and the appeal of doing more with less.
In most cases, the convenience of do-it-all devices will trump the possible advantages of single-purpose products. Forced to choose, I would take an iPhone over an iPod, or an Xbox 360 over a DVD player.
There are exceptions. Just like a universal remote with a million buttons, or an SUV that gets 10 miles per gallon, converging technologies can easily add complexity and bulk without careful grooming by their designers. "Simpsons" fans need only to think of Homer's dream car to understand what I'm getting at.
Despite noble effort, the Entourage Edge shares more in common with the SUV than the iPhone. Weighing 3 pounds, the Edge is a hefty gadget, especially measured against the Kindles and iPads of the world. Its dual-touch-screen layout is impressive to behold but frustrating to operate. Recharging requires a power adapter. The list goes on, and for those who want all the highs (yes, there are highs) and lows, you can read my full review on CNET.
For all my complaints, the dual-screen tablet/e-book reader may yet have a future. If Entourage can stick it out through its first product's growing pains, I'd love to see a second-generation version of the Edge evolve the concept into a real Kindle-killer.