Kyocera Echo

Since Sprint got magical in New York a while back, I've been itching to get my hands on a Kyocera Echo. Look, we know many of you scoff at the Echo, but that's not fair unless you've had a bit of time with it.  I'm a gadget nut.  I'm a smartphone nut.  I'm an Android nut.  I want to check out all the latest Android phones, but show me something unique and I'm there.  The Echo -- which is available today for $199 after contract and $100 rebate -- fits that bill with its two screen setup, complete with applications that can take advantage of them.  Hit the break for some video, some pictures, and some Jerry talking about the Echo.

 

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Pretty neat, ain't it?  I'm sure it will have it's fair share of bugs and quirks, but it's certainly unique.  I can't judge too much in just a short time using it, so any serious thoughts will have to wait for a full review.  You can see a few things from the video that are really awesomesauce, and some that are annoying to say the least. 

Single screen mode -- front  Single screen mode -- rear

Dual screen mode -- front  Dual screen mode -- rear

The bezel between the screens is going to bug me, I can already tell.  There's a chance I'll get used to it in a few days, but I know myself and I doubt it.  I understand there's no other way to do it, but that doesn't make the darn thing any smaller.  The touchscreen seems pretty snappy and smooth though, and yes, accidentally tapping buttons while flipping open the screens is annoying, but I'd rather have the responsive screen than not.

Dual screen portrait  Dual screen landscape

Tiny laptop mode FTW

Besides the normal single screen phone way (that's so 2011), there's three cool ways to use the Echo.  It flips from portrait to landscape in either mode, but it's much more impressive with both screens flipped out.  It's a big square screen that shows a lot of information in an app like the browser, or with two "Simul-task" compatible apps.  Check out the video to see that in action, it's works quite nicely.  But what reeled me right in is the tiny-laptop mode.  Get used to hearing me say that, cause it's so cool. 

Hinge 1  Hinge 2

The folding magic mechanism hinge thingy is solid.  I was concerned at first that it would break, until I found out it's made of metal and not plastic, and the phone itself would probably break before the hinge would.  Once you have the screen flopped open, the hinge slides in and snaps together with a satisfying click, and the unit feels fairly solid.  And has a big black bar between the screens. 

Left side  Right side with controls and ports

Camera

The hardware look and feel is better than I expected.  It has an industrial look with the chrome accents on the black matte shell, and every thing fits nicely.  While it's folded into a single screen, it fits nicely against my ear, and feels substantial.  When I said it was two Zios stuck together, I was way off base.

I'm gonna fool with this one for a week or so, then we'll see how right or wrong my first impressions really are with a full review -- which I promise won't be a thousand words about tiny-laptop mode.