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Meet Earl, the Back-Country Android Tablet With a 6″ E-ink Screen
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  • May 9, 2013
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earl-survival-tablet-xl[3]For the longest time now I have been wanting to buy an Android tablet with an E-ink screen, and while Earl isn’t quite the consumer model I wanted it has me drooling none the less.

Earl is a rugged Android tablet built around a 6″ HD E-ink screen . It’s destined to go out into the wild blue yonder, and comes equipped with a frontlight, solar panel, and a rugged shell that is both water and impact resistant.

Or at least it will be destined to go wild – if it gets enough pre-oeders.

This tablet is not going to win any awards but the specs are solid nonetheless. It’s running Android 4.1 on a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 1GB of RAM, 16GB Flash storage, and a microSD card slot. This is also a well connected tablet with Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, a conbo AM/FM/SW/LW radio,  and a FRS/GMRS/MURS radio for picking up emergency transmissions.

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But the screen, now that’s where things get interesting. Earl uses an HD screen originally developed by LG Display. Unlike the average E-ink screen, the screen on the Earl is flexible, making it much more likely to survive rough treatment. This screen is also equipped with a frontlight and a glove/pointer friendly IR touchscreen.

And that’s not all.  Earl can also double as a weather station – and then some. It’s equipped with a magnetometer, thermometer, barometer, humidity sensor, and an anemometer. Other sensors include GLONASS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and an IR blaster for communicating with other gadgets.

Plus it can recharge itself with the solar panel conveniently mounted on the back.

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This tablet weighs in at a svelte 303g, and is expected to have a battery life of 20 hours.

Earl is up for pre-order at the moment, and the asking price is $250. Sqigle, the company that developed Earl, is looking to raise $250,000 so they can take Earl from the current prototype to a full-fledged backwoods companion.

The $250 price tag is supposed to represent a discount of 30% off the regular price, which sounds a little low to me. The specs listed for Earl sound awfully expensive, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this tablet ends up selling for more than $350.

In fact, that price tag might end up being more than a tad unrealistic. I’m not sure that Sqigle will be able to sell enough units to keep the price tag below $450 or $500. Earl might be able to do a lot, and it doesn’t really have much competition at its price point, but there are only so many potential customers.

But as I sit here looking at it, I think Earl could easily find a home in the academic market.  Elementary and middle schools might jump at a chance to buy a rugged tablet with all those sensors. If nothing else Earl would simplify their equipment lists for science class.

Sqigle hopes to get Earl into production in July, with the first units shipping by the end of summer.

Specs:

Android 4.1Flexible 6″ E-ink screen (1024

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