Every so often a manufacturer will take a leap of faith on a new form factor. It's generally met with skepticism, but sometimes the idea actually works. We've seen a dual-screen phone before. The most recent attempt at this form factor that comes to mind is the Kyocera Echo. The idea is to make multi-tasking even easier since you can literally be doing two things at once. The DoublePlay carries that same idea but LG decided to tone it down a bit and throw in a physical keyboard. Does it actually work? Is it practical in real world use? I've been using the DoublePlay for about a day and have been able to test out this new form factor. Here are some of my initial impressions.
The first thing I noticed when I picked up the DoublePlay was its weight. At 6.8 ounces, the DoublePlay definitely has some heft to it. It's made out of plastic so the construction materials aren't to blame. I'm guessing the added bulk and weight are due to the additional display and physical keyboard. Regardless, it's heavy and thick.
I'm happy to see that the DoublePlay ships with Android 2.3. I'm not a fan of the UI that LG has added, but that will vary from person to person. LG's UI does add several improvements like toggle buttons in the notification bar and a well-designed digital clock and weather widget, to name a few. Regardless of whether or not you like this user interface, it's a plus to have the latest version of Android.
The DoublePlay runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. I've only run a few speed tests but the results so far are not on par with what they should be. My first test yielded results of 6 Mbps down but ever since then, I'm averaging 1.6 Mbps. I will do further tests to see if I can get better speeds. Keep in mind that speeds will vary depending on coverage in your area.
Like most people, I was skeptical of the dual-screen design. It seemed like a gimmick. I've tried it out a couple of times and it is actually very useful and fun to use. While watching a video on ESPN, I used the internal display to send a text message. While browsing the web, I can quickly access my Music Player and shuffle through songs without leaving the web page. Multi-tasking is not a new thing to Android users, but the dual-display makes it that much easier to do. I know it may look weird, but so far the concept is playing out really well.
There are two problems I noticed that are caused by using this dual-display form factor. One, it means the device is thick and heavy, and two, it cuts the physical keyboard in half. Typing on the keyboard is not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I do have to pay more attention to the keyboard when typing. It will take some getting used to.
I've done one quick test using the DoublePlay's camcorder capturing HD video. While video quality was poor and the camera had a hard time focusing, audio quality was surprisingly amazing. I'll test out the camera further and give my results in the full review.
The DoublePlay walks the line between high-end and mid-range. Yes, it has a somewhat small display with a low resolution and, as I mentioned earlier, not the best build quality or hardware design, but it also has a 1 GHz processor, a camera that captures HD video, and is an HSPA+ device. The question is, does it perform like a high-end device or a mid-range device? I've already experienced a few hiccups in performance so I can tell you that it's not perfect. Further testing will show what you can expect on a daily basis.
Those are my first impressions right now. Overall, I'm pleased with the device and surprised by how useful the dual-screen form factor is. Check back in for my full review or watch the unboxing video below.