It Takes Two Touchscreens: Sprint Launches Kyocera Echo
f your smartphone has one touchscreen too few, rejoice. Today Sprint launched the Kyocera Echo, a groundbreaking phone composed of two touchscreens. kyocera echo
The phone features two 3.5-inch LCD displays connected by an innovative hinge; the screens fold up in the manner of a netbook. The two screens can be used to run separate apps, or combined to run in “tablet mode” with both screens acting as a single display. The screens work in both portrait and landscape mode. Like the iPhone, the Echo employs an onscreen keyboard. Unlike the iPhone, it can be angled so that it looks like a mini-laptop, with the keys flat and the screen tilted.
The Echo’s operating system: Android 2.2, also known as Froyo. Its price: $200 with a two-year contract, available sometime this spring. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera with HD video recording and a charger that doubles as a battery pack. kyocera echo
The two-screen combination allows for some novel features. For example, you can watch one YouTube video in the first screen while queueing up a second video in the other display. You can run Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. You can check your e-mail while composing a text message. (Habitual multitaskers, your phone has arrived.)
However, Sprint said only a small number of apps would be able to play nicely with each other in this fashion at first. (The company calls such dueling apps “simultasking.”)
Clearly, developers are just beginning to explore the opportunities involved with two touchscreens. Sprint demonstrated a version of the Sims game that featured the controls on the bottom screen and the game on the top — kind of like the PlayStation Phone. The Echo’s most innovative apps are likely ahead of it, but we expect great things from this unusual device.
The Echo was launched amid much hoopla at a New York event featuring magician David Blaine doing tricks in a giant underwater tank. The connection? “Extreme multitasking can be magical,” explained Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. Given the much-cited Hewlett Packard study that showed office-based multitasking temporary reduces your IQ by 10 points — five points more than smoking marijuana — we’re not so sure. kyocera echo