Technology is always changing. It seems like the second we get familiar with a class of devices — laptops or smartphones or e-readers — they suddenly get morphed and mashed together to create something else entirely.
For a while, we had the briefly-popular netbook: a laptop that had been shrunk down for the sake of portability, but which were fairly limited in its use and next to impossible to type on. Recently, you might have heard about fonblets: devices that attempt to find a size-related middle ground between phones and tablets and only succeed at eliminating the good qualities of both those devices.
Now, it seems, the e-reader/phone hybrids are about to have their day.
First, there’s the Yotaphone: a relatively phone-sized, dual screen device. One side features the color LCD screen you’d expect from a smartphone, while the other side boasts a black and white e-ink display. Not only does it allow for highly portable (if a little impractical, due to the size of the screen) e-reading on the go, it also conserves the battery life that’s usually eaten up by a mobile phone’s large LCD screen. The e-ink side can be used for simple tasks for which color isn’t required, such as checking texts or emails, thus saving the LCD screen for tasks that are better suited for it.
Then, there’s the InkPhone. Rather than compromising with two screens, this device fully commits to e-ink. The phone, which is made by a Polish company called Onyx, has only one screen — and it’s an e-ink screen. The device is super basic, forgoing the fancy apps, camera, and other features we’ve come to expect from a phone for a set of basic apps, an e-reading function, and the ability to make calls, send texts, and do other phone-type things. It also allegedly only needs to be charged once every two weeks.
Our opinion? Using e-ink technology to replace or enhance the viewing capabilities on a smartphone is a good one. These fonreaders (OK, maybe someone else had better come up with a name) probably won’t make great e-readers, though.