NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you've got an entrepreneurial Dad or grad in your life -- ideally one unafraid to fly his or her geek flag -- have I got a gift for you: the Kyocera (KYO) Echo dual-screen smartphone from Sprint (S) ($99 with 2-year plan).Released in early April to what amounted to gasps of digital shock and awe, the Echo was the first two-screen, touch-activated Google ( GOOG) Android-based communications tool I know of. When folded up, only a single screen is visible; the thing behaves like your average Motorola ( MOT) Droid or HTC Hero. But pop open the device via its crafty internal hinge and poof, you have a palm-sized desktop computer. The two screens can work as one large display or run as a teenie-weenie Bloomberg terminal with separate programs on each small screen.
|The Kyocera Echo is a good tool to consider for simple work stuff such as getting emails, finding information, responding and, most importantly, managing and displaying mobile assets.|
The Echo offers just what the sales doctor ordered: a ton of screen real estate still portable enough so you can do and present work anywhere to anyone. No question, this thing is geek madness incarnate. My test unit is a simply monstrous 5 inches diagonally and a full three-quarters-inch thick when closed. When open, the Echo expands to 4.7 inches square! Personal pizzas are smaller.
Here's what you won't find: a keyboard, lots of apps, anything close to reasonable battery life or a device you should mistake for a smartphone. You really need to be comfortable with touch-based devices to master the Echo. Though technologies such as Swype can make the keyboard easy to use, and the virtual keyboard is without question the biggest I have seen on a device this size, you will miss the real thing. App support for the device, as well, is light. And while in two-screen mode, battery life is a few hours at best. Factored together, I would not recommend this as a smartphone unless you are a serious nerd. The Echo is cool, but making it work can be complex. This is a display device, not an interactive device. Bottom line
The Echo is about doing one thing really well: showing work more efficiently as you travel. It does not offer the multi-app experience of, say, an Apple ( AAPL) iPhone, or the keyboard of, say, a BlackBerry ( RIMM). But for simple work stuff such as getting emails, finding information, responding and, most importantly, managing and displaying your mobile assets, oh baby, does the Echo make some noise. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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