E-ink displays have enjoyed a lot of press lately, as Amazon released the new Kindle DX last week and rumors emerged that Rupert Murdoch may leap into the e-reader business. Samsung, on the other hand, has taken the technology in another direction with the release of the texter-friendly Alias 2 phone. While the phone’s display is traditional, the keypad employs e-ink to adapt the keypad to specific functions, shifting the keys to an optimal layout depending on what the user is doing.
The original Alias suffered from small keys that were difficult to read, and a keypad that, in certain modes, was confusing. The dual-hinged Alias 2 keypad displays a traditional numeric keypad when held vertically. Opening the phone horizontally in the texting position shifts the keys to a QWERTY keyboard that changes to a numeric keypad with symbols if necessary. Navigational arrows and soft keys also change positions depending on function and orientation of the device.
Unfortunately, the keyboard is the primary update to the Alias; most of the other features mirror the original model, with a handful of exceptions. But Samsung could be onto something. The keypad essentially mimics the ease of use of touchscreen phones like the iPhone or Blackberry’s Storm that can shift the keypad layout with each change in task. But the $79.95 price tag (with plan) is far more attractive, and the flip phone design keeps the keypad (and screen) somewhat protected from daily wear and tear. The Alias 2 is available at Verizon stores now.