SMARTPHONES COME IN all shapes and sizes, although Kyocera’s new Echo smartphone, that has just been announced as an exclusive device on Sprint offers a truly unique feature never before seen in the smartphone market, dual screens. The really neat trick here is that you can choose to use either one or two screens, something that could be very handy depending on how you use your smartphone.
In single screen mode the Echo is just like any other Android powered smartphone, it has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and it runs Android 2.2. However, when you flip it open and reveal the second screen, this is when things get interesting. Kyocera has done a fair bit of customization to the OS for this to work, but in single screen mode you have 3.5-inch 800×480 display, but once you open it up you end up with a 4.7-inch 800×960 display, albeit with a small black joint in the middle. In the so called tablet mode you can use any app in full screen mode to take advantage of the extra screen real estate which is great for browsing the web and what not.
However, there are two other ways you can use the Echo, namely in Simul-Task and Optimized mode. In Simul-Task mode you can set up the messaging, e-mail, web browser, phone, gallery, contacts and VueQue apps to run concurrently on independent screens, albeit only two at a time. This can be handy for when you want to use multiple apps without having to switch between them, or when you want to have a specific app on the screen all the time while doing other things on the secondary screen.
Optimized mode allows for certain apps to spread across both display in a different way from the Tablet mode and examples include using the lower screen to house the virtual keyboard while typing emails that are displayed on the top screen, or watching a YouTube video on the top screen while browsing the play list on the lower screen using the VueQue app. Pretty neat stuff depending on how well it all works, but it’s great to see some real innovation, especially from a company that it’s traditionally a strong player in the smartphone market space.
The Echo also sports 1GB of built in storage memory, a micro SD card slot, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G connectivity, a 5 Megapixel camera that can shoot 720p video and it’s supplied with an extra battery as well as a low-profile charging cradle which allows for charging the phone and second battery at the same time. The Echo will be available for $199.99 (after a mail in rebate) sometime this spring. Sprint and Kyocera will also launch an SDK specifically for using the dual screens of the Echo ahead of the launch.S|A
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