21
Jan
mediasws

There have been a few cautious entries into the world of dual-screen Android devices from the likes of Kyocera, Sony, and Samsung, but Japanese manufacturer NEC is hoping to leave these efforts in the dust with their new smartphone. The MEDIAS W has a form factor that's distinctly different from any yet seen in the Android world: two 4.3-inch screens in equal resolution, side-by-side. It's a bit like a smaller, inverted version of the Sony Tablet P turned 90 degrees, or the old Microsoft Courier concept shrunken down.

medias w

The MEDIAS W was revealed in prototype form at Mobile World Congress 2012, almost a year ago. The interesting screen configuration and a dual-hinge design put the screens opposing one another when the phone is closed - one screen facing the user, one facing out the opposite side. Open it like a notebook, and the screens can operate in tandem, making a split viewing surface that's roughly square, with a combined resolution of 1080x960. Apps can operate independently on two screens, or combine across both for more visual space. Users can also use the entire bottom screen in landscape format, again, not unlike the Sony Tablet P. It's certainly novel, though there's a lot of bezel - probably to make room for the internal components with all that extra screen space and a split case. The Verge has a hands-on with the device in the video below.

Under the hood you get a 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4, an indeterminate amount of memory and storage, and an open MicroSD card slot. Software is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and the camera is a serviceable 8 megapixels. Even with a relatively mundane 2100mAh battery, the unconventional design of the MEDIAS W gives it a relatively chunky build of 12.2 mm.

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None of the other dual-screen phone designs have managed to catch on, but we'll be keeping an eye on the MEDIAS W - some of us love the concept, even if the execution has been lacking in the other devices that have used it thus far. The MEDIAS W is scheduled to hit NTT DoCoMo in April. Don't expect it anywhere else, since NEC isn't all that interested in foreign markets.

Source: Press release, Specs, NTT DoCoMo, MEDIAS W PDF

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Alex

    With two screens you would think they would make it quad core.

  • Elias

    With a razor thin bezel to almost merge the two screens when placed side by side, this could have been an interesting phone-becomes-tablet for those who really need a portable tablet. But the thick bezel, crappy resolution and underpowered processor ruins the entire thing.

  • digi_owl

    One of those screens will end up badly scratched in no time flat.

  • Alexander Procter

    Hey this kind of device has been a roaring success in the past, so why not give it another spin.....oh wait.

  • anzensepp1987

    Finally a device that looks uglier than the LG Optimus Vu...

  • JonJJon

    It's devices like this that make me question whether even a folding/bending screen would become popular, they all look just so awful and ugly

    • John O’Connor

      When the screens start bending and folding with no visible bezel between the "screens" then we can finally arrive

      • JonJJon

        Agreed, thing is though I still can't see how they can feasibly ever make a screen fold without said screen creasing/becoming weaker/brittle/damaging pixels etc. Just thinking of basic physics make me think that we'll never see long lasting worthwhile "fold-able screens" but bendy/rolling screens where the angle isn't too great should be feasible and have a decent enough life.

        • John O’Connor

          I agree. If it still bends or folds, regardless of no visible separation or bezel there will probably be a deadzone of display pixels that will need to be addressed with software workarounds; such as end of screen intents that will hopefully be smart enough to recognize user interactions to provide a seamless experience.

          In the end though such a configuration may be preferable to rolling/rollout screens and the inherent problems such as endless curling issues that will most likely be an issue. Most, if not near every material that can be and is rolled is presently effected by curling. We will need some major advances in material science technologies if we hope to use such.

          • JonJJon

            True, was too tired to think of curling issues ;) regardless of all these potential hurdles I look forward to seeing it progress into consumer products (not just smartphones/tablet devices) and get better with time.

  • acey_zero

    I am very interested in this form factor, but it would have to be executed very well for me to want to get one.

  • toshistation

    The Kyocera Echo trolls us from beyond the grave...er, garbage can.

  • Matti

    Uhm... okay.
    I suppose it'll make it easier for em to read manga.

  • Sootie

    Genius idea not sure how the execution will be though. But imagine not having a keyboard taking up your screen all the time or being able to read and reply to an sms/email without exiting your game plus with the fold out screen and stuff spanned across both you suddenly have almost tablet sized webpages

  • spydie

    This is one step ahead of the multi-tasking (two apps running on the screen at once) on the Galaxy Note 2. The problem with running two apps at the same time (messaging and email) is that neither has enough room. Two screens would be perfect. I'd buy one if it were upgraded a bit with narrower bezels so the screens look like "one" and quad core and other better specs.