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We keep hearing about flexible displays, but in reality, the idea of a tablet or phone that you can bend in half or roll up like a newspaper is years away. However, right now today, Russian gadget-maker Wexler is showing off its 6-inch Flex One eReader, which has a screen that bend back ever so slightly to avoid breakage when you stick it in your pocket or drop it on the ground.
At Wexler's IFA Berlin booth, we had a chance to go hands-on with the Flex One, which is currently sold in Eastern Europe but will be coming to Europe and the United States within the next few months. Consumers should expect to pay a premium for the flexible design as a Wexler rep said that he expects the device to sell for 199 euros in Western Europe.
We found ourselves impressed with the 6-inch eReader's light weight, which at just .24 pounds (3.84 ounces) is lighter than most smartphones and its attractive rubberized chassis, which is black on the front but has backs that come in a variety of colors, including dark blue, light blue, pink, gray, purple, black and white.
The Flex One is just .15 inches thick so you really could slide it into a pocket in your jeans without worrying about cracking the screen if you bend too much. The corners of the device bend back ever so slightly for durability, but a Wexler rep warned us that the device would break if we bent it more than a little bit.
Still, even the ability to flex it a little bit means a lot. In fact, a Wexler rep told us that the company had successfully dropped the Flex One from a height of 12 meters (39 feet) without sustaining any damage to the screen, though other components could get damaged from such an extreme drop.
The 1024 x 768 plastic eInk display looked really sharp and was a pleasure to look at as text popped of the screen like bold letters typed onto paper. However, navigating around the menus and pages of a book wasn't as much fun as reading them. The rubberized navigation buttons required a fair amount of force to press and the page turns seemed a bit slow.
The Flex One eReader doesn't come with an eBook store of its own, but users can copy their ePub books, PDF files, doc files and a variety of other file formats onto the device's internal 8GB of memory or onto a microSD card. Wexler says the device should last about two weeks on a charge.
Overall, we really like the way the Flex One looks and feels. With its completely rubberized chassis, fashion-colored back, sharp screen and durable design, the Flex One has a lot going for it on the hardware side. The question is how much users are willing to pay for those features.