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Engadget ran two stories about tech company Entourage in the past 24 hours. The first suggests that Verizon is getting into the e-reader tablet game by unveiling two Entourage devices* in September of this year. (When even phone companies are getting into books, you know the world's gone topsy-turvy.) The second story is that Entourage signed a deal with a digital publisher, bringing a bunch of technical products to their Edge device.

All of which reminds me that I never wrote about this: A couple of weeks ago, the good folks at University Book Store let me take an Entourage Edge out for a test-drive. I was very excited to try out an e-reader, and I like the concept behind the device: The Edge is a dual e-book reader. One screen is e-ink, like a Kindle or Nook, and the other screen is a tablet. It's intended for an academic audience: You can take notes or highlight passages on the e-ink screen with a stylus. You can send photos to the color tablet screen, or you can send clips to yourself over the internet.

Unfortunately, the device's performance was way less than satisfactory. The e-ink was really poky. I generally read so fast that even the Kindle's fast page refresh rate—if you've never used e-ink, the screen flashes a negative image of itself before the next page comes up—can be annoying for me, like reading under a strobe light. But the Edge's page refresh was ridiculously slow, making it impossible to read at a decent clip. And the interactivity between the two screens was half-hearted at best. The device is logy and stupid (it uses an early version of Android and, like all Android tablets, you don't have access to the Android Market, which means potentially useful apps like the Droid Comic Reader are unavailable on the Edge.) The tiny stylus makes interacting with the book uncomfortable and inexact.

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Perhaps something like the Edge's new digital publishing deal will eventually make the device relevant—despite the annoying connectivity issues between the two screens, no other e-reading device allows you the kind of interaction with books that the Edge promises, making it ideal for students—but I'd wait for an Edge 2.0 before I invested in the e-reader.

* There isn't any proof that Verizon's Entourage and Entourage's Entourage are the same thing, but it seems pretty likely.

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