After playing around with a dual-screen concept device from MSI earlier this year, I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea of a tablet that serves double duty as a laptop by letting you turn one display into a keyboard. On-screen keyboards just aren’t as easy to use as physical keyboards, I figured. But it turns out that the Apple iPad has a surprisingly usable virtual keyboard that ain’t bad for 10-finger touch typing.
The problem with the iPad keyboard is that it sits on the same plane as the display, which means you either need to strain your neck to see what you’re typing, or prop the tablet up on your knees while you lie in bed and type. A device like the MSI concept tablet that lets you prop up the tablet and use it like a laptop makes a lot more sense. I just wasn’t that impressed with the software MSI was using on the early prototype, and I hope the company works on the software implementation before releasing this product — if it ever makes it to market.
In the meantime, it looks likee don’t have to put all of our eggs in MSI’s basket — because Sony has filed a patent for a similar dual-display device that could function as a tablet, notebook, and eBook reader.
Basically, Sony is describing the device as an “Electronic Book With Enhanced Features.” But the cool thing is that an on-screen keyboard could pop up on one of the touchscreens to allow you to enter text laptop-style. The device could also have GPS, an accelerometer, and even a solar panel for charging the batteries.
Despite the fact that Sony is calling the concept an eBook reader, the patent application mentions the possibility of running apps including a word processor. I wouldn’t mind seeing a device like this loaded with Google Android or a similar mobile operating system which should be able to support an eBook app as well as third party apps.