Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sprint Echo: One Phone, Two Screens, But Just 3G

The Echo by Kyocera for Sprint is exactly what it looks like: An Android smartphone with two screens instead of one. Does the extra screen improve your productivity or does it just suck battery power? Yes. But that's OK: Batteries (two of them) are included.
Sprint Echo by Kyocera

The Echo was unveiled Monday at a glitzy event in New York which featured the magic of David Blaine. While the phone lacks smoke or mirrors, it does feature a specially designed hinge that allows it to snap quickly from single- to dual-screen mode.

The Kyocera unit's dual 3.5-inch touch displays can be used in tandem or separately in either portrait or landscape orientation. The phone will sell for $199 after a $100 rebate with a two-year plan.

The unit is only a 3G phone, however, and can't use Sprint's ultra-fast 4G network. It can, however, serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for a notebook or other wireless networking device.

During the press event Sprint representatives demonstrated how the Echo's screens can be used to run separate applications in each screen or run a single app that spans both screens. When reading e-mail, for example, you can read the e-mail summary in one window and read the full e-mail text in the other. You could also, for example, open your Twitter account in one window and peek at Facebook in the other.

The phone can also run games, as Sprint representatives demonstrated as they showed off a version of The Sims that took advantage of both screens (see video below).

As for the specs, the phone comes with Android version 2.2, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, an 8GB removable memory card (up to 32GB cards supported), Bluetooth 2.1 support for wireless headsets and other devices, and a five-megapixel camera with support for 720p HD video.

Due to the power demands of the dual 800-by-480-pixel screens, the phone comes with two 1,370 mAh batteries and an external battery charger that can connect to the phone, thus allowing you to charge both batteries at once. As for battery life, neither Sprint nor Kyocera mention this prominently on their product pages, so you'd be advised to keep the batteries charged and the charger handy.

At 6.8 ounces and two-thirds of an inch thick, the unit is both thicker and heavier than the original Motorola Droid with the slide-out keyboard (6 ounces, half-inch thick). In other words, the unit has a bit of heft to it and will definitely fill out a shirt pocket.

Like Acer's Iconia dual-screened notebook, it remains to be seen if two screens are better than one or if they just make the folks at Con Edison smile.

Text and video Copyright 2011 Stadium Circle Features

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