Russian company Yota Devices has unveiled a new and unique device. When a user holds it in their hand, one side has a screen that looks very much like a traditional smartphone. Flip it over though, and there is another screen – this one’s for using an e-Reader, with smart ink and all. The Verge calls it a reinvention of the hand-held device while TechCrunch calls it distinctive enough to cause it to stand out in the crowded smartphone market.
Until recently, the only major player in the e-Reader market has been Amazon with its Kindle devices. The idea was to use them as a mean of reading e-books – they provide sharper character definition than devices with traditional screens, e.g. iPads, etc. – even better, because they are based on completely different technology, users that use them to read report less eyestrain and headaches after lengthy reading sessions. They’re also far superior to any other technology when it comes to looking at them while outside, especially when in the sun. Sadly, however, such features have not been enough to support a dedicated reading device has Amazon has been discovering. Their newer device, the Kindle Fire uses the same screen technology as the other notepads.
But now, TechCrunch says, engineers at Yota Devices believe that consumers do still want an e-Reader; they just don’t want it to be at the expense of not having a smartphone. Thus, they have created a device that offers the best of both worlds. When users want to run apps, or cruise the web, they can use the traditional screen. When they want to kick back and read a book, or even catch up on email, they can flip their phone over and use the other side. One especially nice feature of the e-Readers based on e-Ink, is that images displayed remain until cleared, which means they keep displaying their content even if the battery runs out.
Thus far TechCrunch reports, only demo products have been made; many of which have been sent out to testing facilities in various markets around Europe. They expect shipments to begin in the third quarter of next year. They point out though, that it’s important for consumers to understand that phone and e-Reader are connected inside as well as out. Thus, the phone/reader only requires one operating system, presumably Android, to control the whole thing. This means some applications can take advantage of both screens. Users can run Skype for example on one screen, while viewing shared material on the other with the person they are talking to.