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Universal Android Laptop Dock: Microsoft Nightmare, Or Toy? 262

Posted by timothy
from the cross-platform-within-a-platform dept.
ozmanjusri writes with this story from PC World: "A company that makes keyboard docks has announced a laptop-like peripheral that uses smartphones for processing and storage. Since many Android and Apple phones have multi-core processors powerful enough to deliver laptop-level performance, they only lack usable screens and keyboards to be productive for most office work. ClamCase believes their 13.3-inch 1,280 x 720 ClamBook with keyboard, multi-touch touchpad, and dedicated Android keys will make up for the lack, and turn smartphones into fully-functional laptops. A device like the ClamBook could be a real game-changer for the computer industry. If it succeeds, peripheral makers could build docks which would allow any monitor, keyboard, mouse and storage to be powered by any Android phone. It's a combination which would make BYOD offices very tempting for the corporations who are the Windows/Office combination's remaining cash-cow." I only wish the company would license the idea as well to established makers, so otherwise conventional laptops could gain the ability to easily become advanced phone screens, too.
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Universal Android Laptop Dock: Microsoft Nightmare, Or Toy?

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  • RaspberryPi + phone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:22AM (#40280983)
    And a nice case of course.
    I'd rather have a RPi, and a phone to do the phoning.
    I just fail to see that this is a "game changer". The steam engine was a game changer IMHO.
    • by zoloto (586738) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:57AM (#40281185)
      There is one office I do work for occasionally where some workers have an iPad in a custom stand with a keyboard for all their word processing, email processing, and in(ter/tra)-office instant messaging. Some have a monitor if they prefer a larger display, which many do and some use their iPhones for this as well. Granted this wouldn't work if an office required a piece of proprietary desktop (re: non-mobile) software which many do, sadly. However, I know many offices where this is more than acceptable with decent in-house software apps and web apps.
      • Its not an intractable problem to run proprietary desktop software via remote desktop to VMs. It might even help cut down on licensing and support costs.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:44AM (#40281719) Homepage

        "Granted this wouldn't work if an office required a piece of proprietary desktop (re: non-mobile) software which many do, sadly."

        Only the out of date ones. Even big corps have moved everything to a "web based" or "cloud" setup... yes the cloud is in house, but they love marketing terms.... I heard "Cloud 2.0" being thrown around recently.

        Right now, the only people in our office that cant use an ipad or chromebook for their job is Engineering and their need for AutoCad, and Accounting. Oracle has not made a purely web interface to their enterprise accounting systems yet.

        But a good 80% of the workforce here, we are looking at moving them to chromebooks.

      • This is a model that I've seen as well. Basically all communication-related activities have moved to the iPad. The PC is there for heavy lifting (Office Apps) and dealing with custom software which is typically IE6 + ActiveX stuff. Other than the Office apps, the PC are devolving back to terminals. The exceptions are in engineering and marketing departments where they use CAD and Photoshop type stuff.

        • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Monday June 11, 2012 @10:46AM (#40284327)

          > This is a model that I've seen as well. Basically all communication-related activities have
          > moved to the iPad. The PC is there for heavy lifting...

          Isn't this ass backwards? Buy a $500 (but probably a lot more, especially if cell data is involved) iPad and add another few hundred dollars for docks, displays, input devices and licenses for a sack of overpriced apps that can allow it to move from unusable to 'lame' for a desktop user. Lacking a wired network port they MUST suck in a cube farm, especially if remote display of terminal server is involved. Which do you want to run remote display over? Switched GigE or hopelessly overcrowded WiFi. Exactly.

          Meanwhile the 'heavy users' run a generic PC that you can buy with display, inputs AND a copy of Office for hundreds less.

          This is a vortex of stupid driven by three idiotic notions. One, that Apple (or Android) products are suitable for corporate use. Two, that Apple is pushing hard to get their stuff into the workplace but are unwilling to actually DO anything to compromise their 'perfect' vison of chains for everyone to make it happen, believing their RDF will instead force business to adapt their business practives to Apple instead. Finally, the eternal belief that employees can or should use consumer products in the workplace. Yes they use Windows in both but that is more of the reverse, using a cut down version of a corporate product at home. Which is of course one of the problems with Windows.

          The PC (mostly the Apple ][) did break into the corporate world in the opposite way but that was because of epic failures on the part of the old priesthood of IT. The Apple was almost totally unsuitable but since the priesthood left such a huge unfilled need it was used in spite of its limitations. And we fought those limitations in adapting the early PC into the workplace for almost two decades and still fight some today. Name the huge unfulfilled need the iPad satisfies that a PC doesn't? Until somebody answers that question I just don't see it being a productivity enhancer worth reversing the long established trend toward lower TCO per unit productivity in corporate IT.

    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:06AM (#40281227) Homepage Journal

      I too prefer a discrete, separate phone. That's why I bought an Asus Transformer Prime. It doesn't have 3G/4G so it isn't tied to any carrier and the keyboard dock was made to match it along with dedicated Android keys and an extra battery. It's the best of both worlds from a tablet/laptop standpoint. The rare times I'm not near WiFi I use a portable hotspot which I use anyways so I can get connected on my laptop if I need to bring out the big guns for a work issue. Most of the time when I'm on the road said laptop, which is a huge beast, can stay in the bag because I get all my needs met by the tablet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I use my Android phone with an HDMI cable to connect to a television, monitor or projector and pair up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse if I want to use it like a desktop PC.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Theophany (2519296)
        That's way too fiddly for most though and requires you have an HDMI capable screen where you want to set down and work, meaning for most applications it is unfeasible outside of the home, where you likely have a proper computer anyway.

        If this pairs up with Ubuntu for Android, I'd say there's a damn tempting reason to avoid buying £280-£350 craptops - perhaps one enticing enough to kill off that segment of shitty, bloatware'd, inferior grade hardware that so many unsuspecting consumers fall into
        • by EasyTarget (43516) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:26AM (#40281591) Journal

          "That's way too fiddly for most though"

          My phone came with a docking stand with a HDMI out connector on the back, seems straightforward enough.

          "requires you have an HDMI capable screen where you want to set down and work, meaning for most applications it is unfeasible outside of the home"

          I look at the back of my monitor @work.
          HDMI socket
          Then I look at the back of my colleagues Monitors (not all the same make/model, but all under 3 years old).
          HDMI sockets

          HDMI is now so ubiquitous that that argument does not hold water.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            "HDMI is now so ubiquitous that that argument does not hold water."

            HDMI cant hold water, it's the crappiest connector spec ever devised.

            Hint: the older DVI monitors, those secretly hold a HDMI connector in them. IT's called a HDMI to DVI adapter, but dont tell anyone...

            • by EasyTarget (43516) on Monday June 11, 2012 @07:11AM (#40281861) Journal

              Same criticism was levelled at IDE, PCI and USB, hell even at VHS..

              Yet their ubiquity means they were used extensively for years, while 'superior' alternatives have come and gone and are almost forgotten now. It takes a real change of technology to obsolete them (like DVD did for VHS, or SATA for IDE).

              HDMI is simple, convenient, bundled into most production chipsets and works well for normal folks, it will be around for ages, deal with it.

              • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 11, 2012 @09:19AM (#40283103) Homepage

                " works well for normal folks"

                You must not use it. It falls out at whim and is easily damaged. IDE,PCI and USB do not suffer from those epic failure points.

                and if you think it will be around for ages, you also dont know much... Display Port is rapidly replacing it. HDMI will end up as the shortest lived connector spec out there.

    • A raspberry pi is too underpowered for an everyday machine in 2012.

      A phone, on the other hand, with quad core CPUs and up to 2 gig RAM is more like it.

      • by Canazza (1428553)

        Damn straight. It can do one thing reliably at a time, and even then simple Web Browsing can be a chore. the Raspi is for hobbyists and as a teaching tool. In that respect it's an awesome achievment. Those expecting it to replace their laptops will be disappointed.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Yeah, show me an android phone that comes with 2 gig or more ram. The phone makers are still retards by putting a paltry 512-1G of ram in the phone.

        Oh and show me a quad core Phone CPU that can actually crunch numbers in any speedy way. If you are doing ANYTHING that requires a lot of complex math, your phone will get it's butt handed to it's self by a old single core P4 processor.

        • Galaxy S3 comes with either 1 or 2 gigs depending on the model.

          And what percentage of users do serious number crunching? Of course some users will require a core i7 for others a cortex a9 will be adequate.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            And what percentage of users do serious number crunching? Anyone that uses a spreadsheet for it's intended use. We have Excel Books here that allow sales to create quotes for customers automatically. they do a lot of serious number crunching. Everyone in Accounting does this, as well as all of enginering.

            Marketing, they are Ok with cardboard cutouts of computers.

            • An Excel spreadsheet is not serious number crunching. A few million calculations, mostly integer, per second was a heavy number crunching load back in the '80s, when people were doing largely the same calculations on a 4.77MHz 8088, but even a 100MHz ARM core can easily keep up with the recalculations of almost any spreadsheet. Redrawing the window with antialiased text is likely to be more computationally demanding than recalculating the spreadsheet itself.
        • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Monday June 11, 2012 @08:07AM (#40282353)

          If you are doing ANYTHING that requires a lot of complex math, your phone will get it's butt handed to it's self by a old single core P4 processor.

          That's the thing, though, most people aren't doing anything like that. Most people are just using the typical office software suites with some proprietary software thrown in the mix. The computers in many corporate environments are achingly old as it is...a modern mobile device can easily stand up to many of them in practical use.

          Obviously this will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, but we're rapidly approaching the point (if not already at that point) where most applications, be it personal media consumption, general office work, whatever, can adequately be performed by a mobile device, and a dock with fully functional peripherals would do more to drive things that way...

          The people that need the power of dedicated hardware will still have their beige monstrosities on their desk, but I doubt that's going to be more than 10% of users out there, and with 'The Cloud', we may actually be approaching that point where the computer as we know it is nothing more than a terminal to the real number cruncher's stored down in the basement out of the way.

    • by Sique (173459) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:38AM (#40281369) Homepage

      The steam engine was no game changer in itself, first there had to be machines that the steam engine could power like spinning machines and mechanical weaving looms. And it took centuries for the steam engine to mature, given the time from the early attempts (Denis Papin 1690), first patents (Thomas Savery 1698) over the all purpose engines (Thomas Newcomen 1712), the separate condenser (James Watt 1769), the tubular boiler (George Stephenson 1829) and the composite steam engine (Anatole Mallet 1874).

      Which of those engines would be the game changer you are referring to?

      • All of them. There isn't just one game changing event in history, there are a successive series of them almost continuously. No one event makes the use prior to that insignificant, but it can make the use subsequent to that very significant.

        • There isn't just one game changing event in history...

          Some would argue that "fire" would fall into that category.

      • by Kergan (780543)

        You forgot Hero of Alexandria's Aeolipile:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolipile [wikipedia.org]

        • by Canazza (1428553)

          and that's the point. the Aeolipile was just that: A Steam Engine in it's most basic form. It failed to be a game changer on it's own.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      blablabla pi. might as well have a real computer.

      the point is exactly that you'd have seamingless - NON CLOUD - data sync between the device you carry and between the device you use on bigger screen. because it's the same data.

      anyways, in 20 years this will be pretty normal. it's just going to be a deck. a fucking cyber deck.

    • EOMA-68 (Score:5, Informative)

      by mysteryvortex (854738) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:19AM (#40281557)

      This idea might be better implemented as an EOMA-68 [elinux.org] to android phone converter. Then you could use any EOMA-68 compatible devices with it including, but not limited to, clamshell keyboard/screen/touchpad devices. (I.E. a netbook shell)

      As far as the RPi; I'm much more interested in this [rhombus-tech.net] EOMA-68 compatible card which uses the more powerful Allwinner A10 [rhombus-tech.net] CPU. That gets you the capability to run a complete open source stack (including GPU [slashdot.org]) and a datasheet! [slatedroid.com] (Something which Broadcom refuses to give you for the RPi even though it was designed by Broadcom employees!)

      Shamelessly copy-pasted specs for the Allwinner A10:

              1.2ghz Cortex A8 ARM Core
              MALI400MP OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU
              DDR3 Controller 800MHz 1GB max
              2160p Hardware-accelerated Video playback (4x the resolution of 1080p)
              a NAND Flash Controller that is capable of 8-way concurrent DMA (8 NAND ICs)
              4 SDIO interfaces (SD 3.0, UHI class)
              USB 2.0 Host as well as a 2nd USB-OTG Interface (USB-OTG can be reconfigured as USB 2.0 Host, automatically)
              24-pin RGB/TTL as well as simultaneous HDMI out
              SATA-II 3gb/sec
              10/100 Ethernet (MII compatible)
              a 2nd 24-pin RGB/TTL interface that is multiplexed (shared) on the same pins for a standard IDE (PATA) interface.
              GPIO, I2C, PWM, Keyboard Matrix (8x8), built-in Resistive Touchscreen Controller, and much more.

    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:32AM (#40281629)
      This idea is great until the phone rings...
  • A lot of BYOD offices still provide desktop computers, but want to cut back on the cost of providing cellphones...
    With these docks, you could provide a single device that serves both functions, thus mitigating the risks of BYOD and reducing costs at the same time.

    As for the security aspect, a bunch of separate android running devices would be a considerably harder target to attack than a stack of windows workstations which are joined to a domain.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Even harder is a chromebook setup. This eliminates the need to pay for cellphone data plans, they pay for the data plan on the company owned chromebook. Then tell the employee to stuff it in their arse about getting reimbursed more than $10.00 a month for their cellphone bill.

      It allows the company to screw the employee while maintaining security and you get automatic backups. Simply deduct the cost of a new chromebook + 40% from the employees paycheck if they get thiers stolen and hand them a new one aft

  • by hackertourist (2202674) <hackertourist@xmRASPsnet.nl minus berry> on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:26AM (#40281005)

    they only lack

    No, there's much more missing than just the large screen and keyboard: Office applications, for one. A web browser is not enough.

    And as we've just seen in the /. stories discussing Windows 8, a mobile UI is NOT a good idea for a laptop/desktop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kangburra (911213)

      I have an office application on my phone, I forget what it is but I can open Excel an Word files in it. Maybe not as well as MS office but that even depends on the version you have compared to the document author.

      The idea is awesome, all my info on my phone easy to access and work with on the go. It is not going to replace laptops but it is going to dent netbooks.

      • by Targon (17348)

        Many offices need more than just general compatibility with MS Office, but need it to be 100 percent in terms of format and such. This is what many people forget, that "it does this" is NOT the same as doing it well, or properly. How many times have you seen comparisons between the advertised product and more established products with a check-box list of features, but people who use the features discover that how well a used feature WORKS is more important than just having the feature available.

        The ide

    • by PSVMOrnot (885854)

      I second that, and would mod it up if I had mod points.

      Anything like and Android/Apple phone, tablet is essentially a read only device*. You can't do any meaningful creative work on one. Until it has a decent free office app, a whole host of programming IDEs & compilers, image editors and the ability to view more than one program at a time... well it's just a nice toy for reading ebooks and playing angry birds.

      * in the loose sense: sure there is some ability to write stuff; like notes, contacts, appoint

      • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:10AM (#40281245)
        AIDE [google.com] works really well as a java IDE/compiler for my HTC Android phone. I also use Google docs for Writing reports and modifying spreadsheets, which works well enough.

        Is it perfect? Not even close.

        Given a choice I'd do my work on a desktop/laptop. The one major thing my phone lacks, to make it more productive, is a full keyboard, a mouse and a fill monitor. There's also a trade off in processing power for conveniences. Even without the docking station I still always have the phone to do work on when something needs a quick change, but the docking station would just mean I don't have spend time transferring code to my phone. Obviously this is for the specific type of work I do, it would be useless for writing larger applications, but for simple productivity apps this could work.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:58AM (#40281781) Homepage

        "Anything like and Android/Apple phone, tablet is essentially a read only device*. You can't do any meaningful creative work on one."

        All the bloggers out there would disagree with you....

        Oh wait.... I see what you did there......

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Actually, most of the bloggers out there agree with the basic idea that a tablet is a read only device.

      • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Monday June 11, 2012 @07:44AM (#40282137) Homepage Journal

        The reason no-one has yet bothered to port decent office apps to Android is the lack of a keyboard and decent display. If these things catch on (and, provided it was enough cheaper than an Asus Transformer, I'd certainly buy one), then the apps will come.

        The first computer I worked on, an ICL 1902 [wikipedia.org], had 8K 32-bit words of core storage, which is to say the equivalent of 32Kb of RAM. It ran at about quarter of a million instructions per second. It supported 18 simultaneous users on teletypes (proper teletypes, with paper rolls, not these new fangled 'glass teletype' things). Later on in life, I was responsible for one single Intel 80486 [wikipedia.org]

        box (66 million instructions per second, and if I recall correctly about 64Mb of RAM) running UNIX System V.4, which supported a typing pool of thirty typists all doing word-processing on dumb terminals, and five accountants mostly using spreadsheets also on dumb terminals.

        My HTC One X [cnet.co.uk] runs at 6 Billion instructions per second. OK, they're RISC instructions so you can maybe half that to get a comparable number, but even so... It has 2Gb of RAM. It is five orders of magnitude faster than that ICL 1902, two orders of magnitude faster the 486. The idea that the phone in your pocket isn't a sufficiently powerful computer to support one user doing ordinary office tasks is simply silly. What's been lacking up to now is a convenient user interface for office tasks. Devices like this solve that problem.

        Build it, and they will come.

    • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:53AM (#40281159) Journal
      Google Docs inside my phone's browser works fine, and there are binaries that open word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

      I wonder why a dock is needed at all. Bluetooth for the keyboard and mouse. WiFi to send the image to a monitor. All are possible today.
      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        I wonder why a dock is needed at all.

        for power mainly, its easier to plonk it onto a dock than it is to play "where's the cable hiding this time". The Samsung Galaxy 3 [androidauthority.com] comes with a dock charger now, and a wireless display dongle (ie you attach the dongle to your TV and it mirrors your phone display)

        While I don't think these are sufficient to replace a PC, it shows we're slowly moving in the right direction.

    • by GNious (953874)

      Doesn't some Android phone come with full Ubuntu installed, for these situations? I think there is some kind of open office application available for Ubuntu, which means that a phone can truly move from a Phone UI/App-set to a laptop/nettop ditto by just sliding it into a case or dock.

    • Exactly! The summary makes it sound as if corporations are buying Windows/Office because it is the only thing that works on desktop hardware while in reallity they are buying desktop hardware because it is the only thing that runs Windows/Office.

    • by ignavus (213578) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:09AM (#40281239)

      No, there's much more missing than just the large screen and keyboard: Office applications, for one. A web browser is not enough.

      My Android tablet - which has its own laptop-style keyboard (it's an Asus Transformer) - comes with an office suite - Polaris.

      This is what the netbook should have been - small, lightweight, keyboard ... and Android. The Transformer is all that. Hope they keep making it - or some other vendor picks up the idea.

    • The closest I've seen to some entity getting the concept is KDE Plasma Workspaces.

      Use the 'Active' workspace when you're on a touch-screen and 'Desktop' when you're connected to a mouse, keyboard and 21" display.

      Same KDE/Qt experience re-skinned for each environment and, presumably using the same settings underneath.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      > A web browser is not enough.

      If you use Google Apps then it is.

      • If you only use Office, then yes. In my case, Office is just one of 20 apps I need on a regular basis. None of them are available for Android.

        • by LingNoi (1066278)

          > If you only use Office, then yes.

          You're contradicting yourself...

          > Office applications, for one. A web browser is not enough.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            Sounds like they never tried google docs...

            Granted, if internet is down, you cant do anything but loot the vending machines in the break room.... Thus the biggest problem with "cloud computing"

    • True, but I think this is only a first step. Office applications for mobile platforms are getting better, and meanwhile mobile platforms are getting more powerful. I'm now convinced that Apple plans to do what I imagined for the future for quite a long time: make your phone your computer.

      I'm imagining that within a few years, it won't really make sense to have a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPad, an iPhone, and whatever else. Instead, you'll essentially have a smartphone that contains enough processin

  • by niftydude (1745144) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:32AM (#40281039)
    You have the choice of:

    1) keeping the computer screen up and hands-free talking and annoying everyone in your office,
    2) Picking the phone up out of the dock for a more private conversation, but losing your computer screen which could be a problem if someone has a question that requires your computer, or
    3) Wearing one of those stupid headsets every time someone makes a call.

    I like the idea, and the hardware looks sexy, but none of those options appeal to me. Anyone have a better way?
    • by Medinos (2020312) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:44AM (#40281093)
      By "stupid headsets" do you mean a bluetooth earpiece? May not be something everyone wants, but it still seems like a feasible option. As long as you don't mind looking like one of those people who seem to be arguing with themselves (while usually talking with their hands) if viewed from the wrong side.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Just wear mirrored sunglasses and a white shirt with a white tie while wearing sandals with socks and you will fit right in.... But you need to buy a BMW to complete the look.

    • by Inda (580031)
      1) Send the display image to the monitor via WiFi
      2) See #1
      3) See #1
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        My monitor does not have Wifi or the ability to receive an image. In fact I cant fine ANY out there that can outside of a 42" TV, and my cube does not have the space for that nor will HR allow it.

    • by nabasu (771183)

      Even though you might find option #3 stupid, a lot of us don't. Using a Bluetooth-headset makes this a non-issue for most us. There are other issues with the set up though.

    • Or get one of these [red5.co.uk].
  • by Assmasher (456699) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:42AM (#40281079) Journal

    IT guys at large corporations have been monitoring this for at least TWO YEARS.

    Heck, a friend of mine who works for SIEMENS says they've done some limited roll outs using the Atrix as a desktop replacement for some field support personnel. They've got teams learning the ins and outs of creating custom OS images for given phone sets so they can simply image peoples' phones the same way they do when you connect your laptop to their system now.

    How eager people are to connect their 'work' phone, and what 'work' phone means now, is a bit more up for debate there. My friend says a lot of people are excited at the idea of ditching desktops AND laptops for certain types of employees and simply having offices filled with docking stations.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      What's sad is many corporations will short-sightedly force people onto iDevices and end up worse off than they were with Microsoft, with them now being tied to a single hardware provider. I find it quite strange when there's an open source solution with a variety of hardware options.

      • by otuz (85014) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:09AM (#40281241) Homepage

        Why would a single hardware provider be worse than a single software provider? The latter was never an issue for most companies. If anything, it's better for them if there is just party to support for both hardware and software if something goes wrong. You know, most companies aren't hackerspaces, where every user spends all their time tinkering various devices just for the sake of tinkering.

        • I don't mean to be rude, but I found your post very confusing.

          First you said:

          Why would a single hardware provider be worse than a single software provider?

          Then:

          it's better for them if there is just party to support for both hardware and software if something goes wrong.

          I'm of the opinion that the only thing worse than a single hardware provider, is a single hardware provider that is also the singe software provider. I mean, WOW, just put all your eggs in one basket and then pull all competition out of the scenario and I'm pretty sure that "support for both hardware and software if something goes wrong" will go right out the window.

          You know, most companies aren't hackerspaces, where every user spends all their time tinkering various devices just for the sake of tinkering.

          There is a huge range of devices in my building, my group i

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          Microsoft is not a single software provider. Apple is once again closer to that as well, requiring you to pay extra to break out of the walled garden. You find out what the problem is with a single provider when they decide on huge price increases. dropping support for certain features (hardware especially) or including proprietary interface that locks you to them for peripherals. Having options available is far from a 'hackerspace' ... it's about having the best solution. I'm not saying iDevices are bad, I

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          bear in mind most companies use single hardware providers anyway - you get a better deal, better (well, single point of contact) support and single purchase orders if you buy all your computer gear from a company like Dell or IBM. So most do.

          You sometimes get 2 providers - one for clients and one for the datacentre, but you almost never get a mishmash of bits bought from all over.

  • by aglider (2435074) on Monday June 11, 2012 @04:49AM (#40281137) Homepage

    The phones are quite handy, but too small for real mobile usage (apart the calling stuff).
    This idea looks quite interesting as it'd add to a smart phone just what's missing for real usage.
    But I see two major cons:
    1. That thing would drain the phone battery very fast, whatever technology it will use for the display.
    2. There's still the "other way around": use the smartphone to add a netbook/notebook what's missing (the connectivity) which is already widely available via bluetooth and/or USB.

    I personally don't see the tablets a real mobile killer application: they're too large to be handy, there's still no keyboard (unless you have to type a 140 characters message), adding an external keyboard will bring the same weight as a netbook, with less features an power.

    So I'd say: let's see how it goes!

    • by otuz (85014)

      1. Why would the phone power that thing? If anything, it of course includes its own charger and battery and changes the phone, while it's docked.
      2. That's what we have now, and requires maintenance of two separate systems: the phone and the laptop. Unifying them would definitely be a benefit, not a drawback.

    • by MrDoh! (71235)

      You'd have the dock powered, charging the phone. (maybe even using the corporate wired network for security/speed reasons).

  • by andyn (689342) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:08AM (#40281233)

    Mr. Shuttleworth has already been offering Ubuntu desktop on Android phones [ubuntu.com] for phone vendors. I don't see any reason why this wouldn't work for laptops.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:14AM (#40281277) Homepage

    The palm pilot gave answer to the need to take your data with you but it didn't offer much in the way of user interface because the device itself was limited by its size. This fundamental problem hasn't been addressed well since.

    But now, we are seeing something I once told people was coming -- the computer [and data] is in your pocket and everything else becomes just the user interface. So wherever you go, you just plug in to whatever interfaces are available... whatever interfaces are appropriate. Your desk? Your car? The table at a restaurant or coffee shop?

    Yeah, this is Microsoft's nightmare. They could have gotten involved with some of these really good ideas, but instead, they put their money and effort into keeping things the same which pretty much never works.

  • Is this saner than docking by connecting a video cable (i.e. hdmi) for an external monitor and usb cable to storage, input devices and even networking? The only potential problem I see then is charging via the same usb port which I admit might be tricky at best with current phones. Plenty of tablets have multiple usb ports and/or dedicated charging ports though but I'd imagine a tablet (I'd fancy 7" @ 720p or higher myself) would be far more usable on it's own for the sort of apps you would run docked. A
  • My 300 AUD eeepc would not be much cheaper without its crap processor but a remote desktop client for android would be really useful, so maybe this will show up as an application for cheap netbooks.

    • by vlm (69642)

      My 300 AUD eeepc ... maybe this will show up as an application for cheap netbooks.

      It showed up years ago. The term you don't know to google for is "android x86 project". I've been running android on my old eee netbook for quite awhile. Its free and I'd strongly suggest everyone give it a try.

      Android makes a better netbook OS than either the preinstalled linux it came with, the full Debian install I did, or windows.

      Android with keyboard and touchpad is much faster to use than android with touch screen. I never learned all the multitouch stuff so I'm not missing anything.

      One thing I do

  • I only wish the company would license the idea as well to established makers, so otherwise conventional laptops could gain the ability to easily become advanced phone screens, too.

    "License"? I that here on Slashdot we wish that there were no patents, so that existing companies could just copy the idea more cheaply and put the inventor out of business?

    • Patents are OK as long as you actually invent and market/license something.
      If you take some exiting idea, patent it and expect other companies to pay you for it... then you must be living in the US...

      This is virtually the same thing as laptop docs... not to mention existing mobile docs (Motorla Lapdock [motorola.com])
      Anyone claiming license fees or royalties from this "invention" is actually hindering innovation and it's widespread adoption
  • And, as hinted, to have this as an option in ALL laptops(heck, even desktops) that if you boot up with a phone attached, it passes control over to that. And/or, have an image to boot from the phone that runs inside Windows/MacOs/Linux. self contained VM that launches and uses phone resources (well, not a VM, a transposed machine).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:42AM (#40281399)

    What a fucking stupid idea - the processor + storage are the CHEAP part of the phone. Now instead of having a phone + a laptop, you wind up with a phone + a lobotomized laptop that doesn't work without the phone, at a cost that's close to that of the complete set...

  • In every dual-core phone, there’s a PC trying to get out. http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android [ubuntu.com]
  • Damn!
    They could do it bback in 2008 with any device that had USB host (I was experimenting with acer n30 back then)...
    And Get a "5yr old" desktop with some arm-linux flavor in a formfactor of PDA.

  • Since a good portion of state troopers now have the ability to crack a cell phone in their car, what kind of company security issues is this going to create? (not to mention the personal ones)
  • Palm had come up with this sort of thing called the Foleo. It never took off, but since HP bought Palm(and then killed it), HP does have access to the idea as well. The issue I have with the article is that performance has never really been evaluated in a proper comparison between an ARM based laptop and an AMD or Intel based laptop. What is acceptable on a phone or tablet may not seem enough for the normal load put on a laptop.

  • If this dock didn't require I physically insert my phone into it, that would be good. Dedicate some kind of wireless connection to my device as long as it's within 10m. With crypto auth backed by a confirm (check to always allow) dialog on my device, gated through Android permissions to my device resources.

    Put a CPU and GPU into the dock dedicated to processing the traffic among my device, the display, storage and network. The CPU/GPU in the "dock" could cost maybe $25 extra. Let me plug in for recharging,

    • by Targon (17348)

      Palm/HP had come up with the perfect solution for this already in the concept of "Tap to Share", which would allow a HP Pre 3 to tap the screen of the HP Touchpad, and have whatever web page, text messages, and so on to sync across to the other device. That would do the job here as well since the idea of a "docking station" doesn't end up being terribly cost effective when screen, keyboard, and other connectors add so much to the cost of devices anyway.

  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday June 11, 2012 @07:16AM (#40281899) Homepage

    for the 21st century.

    The problem is, two different sets of interface devices demand two different interfaces.

    If one could re-work UI elements via theming so that the system would morph from smart phone to desktop interface and back (throwing in an intermediate Tablet size would be a great bonus) this sort of thing might work.

    I've always been faintly surprised Apple hasn't had an option where an iPod could be slotted into a MacBook and used to store the user's home directory (as well as backing it up on the hard drive --- then determine which to boot based on the currently inserted iPod).

    William

  • Windows 8. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreggBz (777373) on Monday June 11, 2012 @07:20AM (#40281933) Homepage
    Windows 8 could be the best operating system for this thing.
    Stop laughing, I'm serious. The biggest hurdle is trying to merge two input paradigms into one OS. The second biggest hurdle is application support for the power-user.

    So, on both counts, why try? An OS that has a huge application base and can switch between laptop mode and phone mode while sharing the same applications and storage is probabbly a better idea.

    Incidentally, you can do this in Linux too. Install both window managers, say Gnome 3 and xfce, and switch between them at login time with xdm.
  • I tend to use my netbook more than my tablet I was thinking why payout for a bluetooth keyboard for the tablet. So

    http://anselm.hoffmeister.be/computer/hidclient/index.html.en [hoffmeister.be] lets you use your mouse and keyboard with a tablet or phone. Yes maybe a little redundant but at least you can try it out with out paying out for yet another keyboard mouse set.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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