Remember Yotaphone, the twin-display Android smartphone (color LCD in front, e-ink in back)? Today at CTIA in Las Vagas, Yota devices, the company behind the innovative handset, introduced Ruby, a sleek LTE hotspot with a small e-ink screen. We don't usually get too excited about such devices, but Ruby looks like something out of Jony Ive's workshop, with some interesting features to match. The design recalls the iPod mini but is made of white plastic instead of aluminum.
Along the top edge, you'll find the e-ink display and a two-way power switch -- slide it to the left and Ruby behaves like a secure hotspot, slide it to the right and it's a public access point. The e-ink screen shows battery and signal status, the number of connected devices and a smiley icon to confirm public mode. On the bottom edge is a trick flap that's both a micro-USB socket and a USB Type A plug depending on how it's positioned -- the micro-SIM slot is cleverly hidden behind it. A programmable RGB LED mounted behind the Yota logo completes the package on the front of the hotspot.
Ruby currently supports quad-band EDGE, plus HSPA+ and LTE for the European market, but the radio can be configured (in hardware) to support other bands. The 2100mAh battery powers the unit for about 16 hours of use (60 hours on standby) and can be charged to 70 percent capacity in about an hour. Yota's signed a few deals with carriers in Russia and Europe and the device is expected to become available to Russian customers in two to three weeks for about $120 (unsubsidized). No word on whether Ruby will land in the US (yet). Take a look at our hands-on gallery below.
Gallery: Yota devices LTE hotspot hands-on