View Full Version : Sony announces a dual-screen tablet

06-17-2011, 12:09 PM
Apparently, the initial impressions were bad, but here's the link:

06-17-2011, 12:29 PM
Meh. Sony's late to the twin-screen party. Double 3.5" screens on the Kyocera Echo ( ... a pair of 14" screens on the Acer Iconia-6120 (

-- Ed

06-17-2011, 01:05 PM
True, but this device is more appealing for two reasons:

1. It's not a phone. The Echo's two 3.5" screens are an interesting feature, but I'm not entirely convinced that they are useful for that kind of device. I'd much rather have a slide-out keyboard.

2. It's not a 14" mutant freak $1000 laptop running Windows 7. While I love my little T91MT touchscreen netbook, Windows 7 has basically the least touch-friendly interface in the planet. Also, I would never buy a laptop with a larger than 12" screen. I can't even wrap my mind around the Acer Iconia - what would I do with two monstrous 14" touchscreens?

I think the two 5.5" screens is probably the right way to go (two 7" would be ever better). I'm curious how they implement the software for it. I'm still waiting for somebody to correctly integrate two screens. Currently, the early reviews state that the space between the hinges is too large, and the built-in applications don't take full advantage of the technology.

06-17-2011, 01:52 PM
Just 'cause it comes with Windows doesn't mean it has to stay with Windows. Install Darwin, and you can pretend it's a mutant iPad instead! :rofl:

-- Ed

People complain about Android being splintered already and that it took until 3.0 to support tablets ... imagine what kind of effort it'll take to get it to support twin screens.

06-17-2011, 03:02 PM
Actually, I confess to having a Kyocera Echo, though I don't carry it much. It's more of a placeholder for my Sprint account and an answering machine for the people like doctors who refuse to update their files to list my other number.

Kyocera has done a not-terrible job of getting apps not designed for the crazy format (which is 99.9% of apps, of course) to work decently across two screens.

As for Windows, the rallying cry seems to be "Just you wait until Windows 8!" But that's going to be a while. I've been using a tc1100 ( convertible tablet as my desktop machine for the past year. Just took it out of service, actually.

It came with XP Tablet Edition, and I upgraded it to Win7. When it wasn't docked with a keyboard and mouse - when I used it as a tablet - my main complaint about touchscreenability had to do with the 8-year-old screen technology rather than with the OS.

The Asus EP121 ( doesn't seem like a bad Wind machine though maybe a bit big at 12.1"....

-- Ed

06-17-2011, 05:33 PM
I can actually see interesting possibilities for the Acer. The "keyboard" could be customized for each app.
In map, the zoom-out could be on the bottom, and the top screen could quickly snap to any grid you touched on the bottom one.
Turned sideways, you could jot notes on the touch side and see them translated into text in a notepad on the other side.
A reference document could have page thumbnails arrayed on the bottom screen, and display one page at a time on the top screen...

The opportunities are endless. The only problem is that the apps would have to be customized for that unit which would limit the market quite a bit!

06-17-2011, 07:53 PM
Just try pounding an inert keyboard for a few hours and see how you feel at the end of it - not a good feeling. We tried out a device that projects a keyboard on to a flat surface and reads the position of your fingers - every ones comment, 'fine as long as you don't want to do anything with it'. Pounding on a hard surface is no good for the joints in our hands.

06-17-2011, 09:57 PM
Why POUND? If you can get a virtual "key" to respond to the weight of a finger dropped when relaxed, it's jut a matter of adjusting your conception of what a keyboard is.

If anything what's wrong with a keyboard on a screen is that there is no physical feedback of the extremities of the actual keys. I can put my hands on my actual keyboard without looking, find the home keys with the bumps on F and J and type for hours without looking, because with each keystroke I can adjust the position of my hands without looking. a virtual keyboard provides no such feedback apart from the wrong letter being displayed when you're off target.

If the virtual keyboard had two levels of touch sensitivity, and played a soft chord when the F and J were touched, it would very quickly become second nature to stay in alignment. The other solution is the use a physical keyboard for extended periods of text entry. I use a GearHead wireless keyboard on my PE and once I got used to the spacing, I could type nearly as fast as my full desktop keyboard.

06-18-2011, 05:56 AM
Maybe I used the wrong word to start with but because there is no tactile feedback that is what you end up doing after a couple of hours of continuous use, even audible feedback will not let your touch sense know you have actually 'pressed' the key.

I totally agree with using a physical keyboard with the EE, mine is USB and a little larger than my EE.

06-18-2011, 10:57 AM
I agree. With something 14", you're going to want a tactile keyboard instead of the second screen, although I agree with Last_of_the_PEs that it has some potentially cool applications. I just don't like "big" electronic items. That's the same reason I prefer 7" tablets and phones with 3" screens (I can barely get my hands around those giant 4" ones!)

Speaking of Windows 8, it looks awesome. After getting a chance to play around with Windows Phone 7, I'm completely on board with the idea that "tiles" are better than icons with touchscreen interfaces.

06-18-2011, 02:05 PM
My preferences are about 1/2 to 1 notch/niche larger. I struggled with those small (and washed-out) screens on early PDAs and handheld cell phones, and a 4" super amoled just thrills me! :) After many months of pleasure with the (6") Kindle 2, I thought I was in heaven when I got the 7" Galaxy Tab, but I'm gravitating more towards 10" screens when I'm out and about now, though I was happier with the smaller bag I could use with the 7".

At the moment I'm on the recently-wooted 14" Samsung notebook that I set up as my desktop - can not see carrying it around, though I s'pose I could if I had one of the jobs that kept you away from your desk for days at a time.

-- Ed

06-20-2011, 02:31 PM
I got a 12" Alienware laptop and a 8.9" T91MT netbook. Both are super easy to lug around. (In addition, the Alienware laptop's screen is just gorgeous, and I have one of the cheaper models). Right now, I'm not sure how I feel about doing word processing in Android. This is my first experience with an Android tablet, and the software seems a little more difficult to use. However, I vastly prefer Quickoffice to the packged Documents-to-Go, mainly because it is vastly easier to cut/paste. Do you guys still prefer a Windows machine for word processing, or do you tend to use Android tablets? What program do you use?

06-20-2011, 06:07 PM
Kenny, you asked a loaded question there. For me windows in any shape or form is a no no. We spend far too much time fixing disabled windows machines for clients.

I agree with you that QuickOffice on Android is much better than DtG, but for serious word processing we use Describe on OS/2 from our server. For finicky formatting of OCR from scanned pages we use Libre Office on linux. At home I use both as necessary - linux runs in a VM on OS/2.

06-20-2011, 09:01 PM
My situation doesn't fit your question very well - almost all of my writing can be handled by a good text editor that accepts unicode, so I rarely need a word processor. And it's done at home at a desk with a browser open to a half-dozen windows, so I'm on my general-purpose computer.

Now technically, for the past year that's been a 10" Windows tablet, but I had it docked with a keyboard and mouse and a wired connection to the net. So, it's hardly what comes to mind when thinking about tablets.

Occasionally, even when I don't need to produce sophisiticated formatting myself, I've needed something more upscale than a text editor. It usually has to do with searching for patterns ... paragraphs preceded by two or more blank lines and starting with a numeral, for example.

MS Word has usually worked well for me in these cases, but there have been times when I was on a linux machine. Open Office Writer was almost as good (but not quite). Both of these applications sorta rule out Android. ;) (The solution, of course, was to fire up Vi Improved and make glorious use of regex pattern matching.)

Convenient cut-and-paste is also a major requirement. I do a lot of it, especially between browser windows and documents.

I also use spreadsheets halfway often, almost exclusively for my own study and entertainment. Here, the larger the screen, the better the usability. I haven't done anything in tablet format, but I recall the difficulty of just reading the darned things on PDAs. Anyway, for this, Open Office Calc satisfies my needs pretty well, even when opening other people's Excel worksheets.

-- Ed