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Universal Android Laptop Dock: Microsoft Nightmare, Or Toy?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the cross-platform-within-a-platform dept.

Android 262

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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RaspberryPi + phone? (4, Informative)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (4, Informative)

zoloto (586738) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

ocularsinister (774024) | about 2 years ago | (#40281515)

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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40281719)

"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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (5, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#40281227)

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:RaspberryPi + phone? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281309)

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:RaspberryPi + phone? (1, Interesting)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40281337)

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 the trap of buying into.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281397)

I agree, it is fiddly because the components are separate instead of being a single unit, but it comes in more handy that you might realise. Sometimes I go over to a friend's house and we use it to watch movies on their television. Other times I can hook it up to a conference room projector for presentations. Yet other times, I carry my pocket projector, which allows me to use it in a variety of places like personal meetings, pubs, camping, etc.

It may not be as convenient to carry as a notebook dock, but there are other benefits to doing it this way.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (3, Insightful)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 2 years ago | (#40281591)

"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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40281731)

"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...

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 2 years ago | (#40281315)

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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 2 years ago | (#40281645)

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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40281741)

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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#40281369)

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?

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40281403)

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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#40281493)

The one James Watt made. I know he wasn't the inventor, and there was a long history of utilising steam. Internal combustion engines, gas (as a weapon of war), the machine gun, the Tank (as a weapon), Velcro, and rockets weren't 'stand alone' inventions either, but they _were_ game changers nevertheless.
I just wanted to make clear that something like this just isn't a game changer, it is a tool at best, probably landfill in a year or so.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40281491)

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 (5, Informative)

mysteryvortex (854738) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:RaspberryPi + phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281639)

The steam engine was a game changer IMHO

+1 funny

Is it the Holidays yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40280995)

This. Now. But only if it's any good.

BYOD... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#40280999)

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.

Re:BYOD... (2)

Jahta (1141213) | about 2 years ago | (#40281081)

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 the risks of BYOD are primarily about things like data theft/breaches and introducing malware into the organisation, I don't see providing a nice screen and keyboard as a mitigating factor.

Re:BYOD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281385)

IBM is rumored to be moving to a pure BYOD model after the current supply of laptops is exhausted. I have an Atrix 2, so my strategy is to buy a lapdock shell and use my laptop stipend to pay for an official desktop image hosted on the IBM cloud. Pairing up paying by the hour with a company paid Android phone running Lotus Traveler - it turns any Android or iOS device into a Blackberry alternative - means I may never need to request a laptop refresh again. If I can get on the Internet, I can get to my work image. When I can't, my phone gives me access to email, calendar and IM.

Of course I just got a T420 a few months ago and that thing rips. I'm very happy with it and may not need to move to the cloud (yes, I threw up a little just writing that phrase) for a number of years.

Re:BYOD... (4, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#40281623)

As the risks of BYOD are primarily about things like data theft/breaches and introducing malware into the organisation, I don't see providing a nice screen and keyboard as a mitigating factor.

Well, it isn't a risk in the same sense, but the other risk with BYOD is employees not being able to effectively work together.

Right now BYOD is OK because people only use it for email and browsing, for the most part.

When you try to apply that to everything else, you start having problems. One employee starts authoring all their documents in one format, and another uses a different one. So, you impose some standard. Now a bunch of employees can't comply with the standard readily, unless you buy a lot of software for them. Some employees have devices that don't work well with the corporate Exchange server or whatever.

So, then you start certifying individual models of devices. At that point you're not really doing BYOD so much as Pay For the Corporate Device. My own company has started taking that route, which just means that I don't use my smartphone for work. They don't even certify a single device for my carrier, and since they aren't paying for my phone bills, I'm not going to revolve my phone around their selections.

Re:BYOD... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#40281679)

Which is why open standards are so important...
It works for browsing and email simply because there are standards in those fields. The only reason it may not work in other areas is due to a lack of standards, and that's what needs to be fixed not trying to paper over the cracks with "certified" devices.

Re:BYOD... (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#40281667)

Well the risks are that the device is not under your control, so you cannot wipe it etc...

Data can be stolen from a company supplied device, and malware can be put onto one just as easily.

On the other hand, a bunch of isolated android devices will be far less susceptible to malware than a bunch of windows boxes which have common access credentials.

Re:BYOD... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281225)

I'm not sure how the IT lifers / drones on slashdot can be so misguided sometimes. BYOD isn't worried about cost, they're worried about security, big time. Having a bunch of separate cellular devices is a security nightmare, at least with the current policy enforcement situation even in 4.0. Oops so and so installed malware in a game they downloaded from the official store. It's even scarier than on PCs as users inherently seem to trust app stores.

Re:BYOD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281413)

Check out Junos Pulse. IBM requires that we install it before we are allowed to install Traveler, the app that gives the corporate data on my Android the same or better protection as a Blackberry. It also supports secure wipe of the corporate data area on my phone, and checks my phone for malware after every app install or upgrade and after every file download.

IBM has a very strict security policy and they have figured out a way to make this work.

Re:BYOD... (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 years ago | (#40281489)

users inherently seem to trust app stores.

My app store has been curated by Steve Jobs (R) himself. It is surely safe !

Re:BYOD... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40281773)

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 after you reset their password.

All done. You can fire 90% of the worthless IT department, submarine the cost of replacement laptops back onto the worker by taking it out of their pay, and not even have to have a phone system because you are also making the worker pay for all your business communications. Bonus points if you can figure out how to deduct the Chomebooks data plan also out of the workers paycheck.

Heck put that plan in place and I'll bet they promote you twice and give you a nice big golden parachute. Corperate america loves it when you can screw the employees for better profits!

You're not that young, oz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281003)

I'm sure it'll take off like gangbusters.

Sorry. That may be overstating it a bit.

I'm sure it'll be on the trash heap of tech history by this time tomorrow.

Re:You're not that young, oz (3)

BluBrick (1924) | about 2 years ago | (#40281209)

And I'm sure the reality is that the future of this device is somewhere between your two hyperbole-laden extremes - but that's not quite as exciting now, is it?

It's the apps, stupid! (5, Insightful)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#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:It's the apps, stupid! (2, Interesting)

Kangburra (911213) | about 2 years ago | (#40281043)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281483)

There is something called QuickOffice preinstalled on my Symbian S60 phone that is doing this. The free version does not allow editing though, and the formatting is all messed up.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (2)

Targon (17348) | about 2 years ago | (#40281627)

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 idea of a docking station is good, but people are currently treating phone or tablet applications from the point of "good enough for phones", and don't look at the question of "is it good enough to replace what is used in the office?" question. Openoffice, or Libreoffice are decent for document editing, yet you don't see these used as the primary office suites used in offices. The same applies here, replacing what is used in an office, is it good enough, and compatible enough.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281085)

I'm sure an Office app will appear soon enough if these lapphones catch on. I one can't wait. Where do I send my money?

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (2)

PSVMOrnot (885854) | about 2 years ago | (#40281125)

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, appointments, facebook stuff, etc. but you can't write a sizable computer program or do image editing, or basicly anything really useful.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (3, Informative)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (3, Informative)

Inda (580031) | about 2 years ago | (#40281159)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (2)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#40281207)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281465)

I don't trust Ubuntu for Android for one reason [ubuntu.com] (scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the image next to "Ready to talk?")

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (1)

Eirenarch (1099517) | about 2 years ago | (#40281211)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (3, Insightful)

ignavus (213578) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 2 years ago | (#40281359)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (2)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 2 years ago | (#40281475)

> A web browser is not enough.

If you use Google Apps then it is.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#40281535)

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.

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (2)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 2 years ago | (#40281601)

> If you only use Office, then yes.

You're contradicting yourself...

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

Re:It's the apps, stupid! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281677)

Ever heard of Citrix or VNC, to name just two examples? Have a stack of Citrix farms and hook up a Citrix client from the phone to the office net and instant, full sized desktop. Heck I've even used Citrix on my Samsung SGS2 to catch work mail and fix very simple DB problems at work when I've been on call and out and about, and that's on the crappy touch screen keyboard. Even easier with a full QWERTY and a 28" screen hooked up to it I would imagine.

wedge (0)

amnezick (1253408) | about 2 years ago | (#40281021)

is that a wedge design? that looks like a wedge design to me. cash up and smash it with a hammer or else...

Re:wedge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281067)

It might be a wedge design, if was, erm, y'know, wedge shaped.

Try harder next time

Butt fart on yout fort fone the fart of butt the (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#40281037)

Butt fart, you it smell the fart of a bad butt in the butt fart heldover the fart gasts pof a bad butt burtoia slashdort is assfartgas of an Italian,,, the fart is itl

And when the phone rings? (4, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | about 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:And when the phone rings? (4, Informative)

Medinos (2020312) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:And when the phone rings? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281199)

They generally come with hair gel to complete the douche bag look. Previous model BMW not included.

Re:And when the phone rings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281111)

"smart" headset like this one: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/8928/

Re:And when the phone rings? (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#40281467)

Oh Noes! This Product is Out of Stock. This product is not available for purchase at this time.

Re:And when the phone rings? (1)

Inda (580031) | about 2 years ago | (#40281173)

1) Send the display image to the monitor via WiFi
2) See #1
3) See #1

Re:And when the phone rings? (2)

nabasu (771183) | about 2 years ago | (#40281175)

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.

A modest proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281253)

A small amount of memory in the dock. An SD-card should do.
It can be used both for keeping your active files, and for keeping screenshots of what you are working on - so you can browse, but not edit while you are talking on the phone.

Or simply use those stupid headsets.
Or have a phone for your phone - stupid headset built like a phone, so that you can phone while you phone. Dog.

hardware looks sexy

Actually, I find it looking stupid and unergonomic.

They should get the dock INTO the keyboard and make that the power source too. That way it wont slide off the table when you type.
And it widens the bottleneck(s) between keyboard and the CPU and the screen a bit.
Also, make sure to provide additional cooling - this setup will be using your phone's CPU and memory for 8 hours straight, every day.
Was the phone built for that kind of use?

Make the screen detachable. No. Scratch that. Throw it away altogether.
This is supposed to be a replacement for a desktop machine. Using it as a laptop would drain the mobile's battery - so unless they are planning on adding a battery pack into it too...
Get some kind of an interface box and plug regular, large monitors into it. It's a docking station after all.
Chuck the trackpad as well. You already have a multi-touch device right in front of you. Use that.

Re:And when the phone rings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281425)

Stupid headset? Move into the times Grampa.

Where has this guy been hiding? (4, Interesting)

Assmasher (456699) | about 2 years ago | (#40281079)

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.

Re:Where has this guy been hiding? (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40281153)

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.

Re:Where has this guy been hiding? (3, Insightful)

otuz (85014) | about 2 years ago | (#40281241)

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.

Re:Where has this guy been hiding? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 2 years ago | (#40281451)

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?


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 is primary Java and Matlab developers using windows machines. We write software for scientists running Linux machines to analyzing data that was collected and processed from satellite imaginary on Macs. Just because someone is running open source solutions doesn't mean they automatically spending their time "tinkering". A statement like that is dangerous if read by ignorant bosses and makes you seem a very out of touch to anyone that is actually in the know. Linux and Mac machines and their respective software are used to do real work, just like windows. Not all the scientists where I work are Linux gurus and they don't spend their time tinkering. Propagating the stereotype that someone using open source solutions is just tinkering really creates an image that people using open source solutions aren't doing real work, which just isn't true and is harmful to the community. Some pointy haired boss is going to read a comment like that and take it to heart.

My group had a hell of a time after our boss stumbled onto this article The Zero Defect Vision [agilejournal.com] where the journalist suggested that it was possible to write software that has a 0.0003% bug ratio. We use agile development practices with monthly software releases and have a 5% bug ratio with a lot of our larger systems. We pointed out several times there were spelling and grammar mistakes in the article, which were missed by both the writer and editor. Then we went on to explain that although doctors make very few mistakes during surgery, the techniques they use were perfected over hundreds of years, and not all of the patients used in the process actually survived. Basically everyone of the professions talked about in the article had their period of trial and error and accidents, some of which actually lead to the loss of life. At least our software has never killed anyone, at worst there was an indexing issue or the output was in a space delimited format when it should have been comma separated. We managed to get our boss to back down from his holy crusade to have us produce 100% bug free applications when we basically stopped making monthly releases, because in an agile environment there's always some new feature or bug to fix, which would normally be pushed to the next release cycle.

Re:Where has this guy been hiding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281463)

Because when the vendor's model no longer suits the company, try switching to something else. It's already hard enough with just software lock-in.

Re:Where has this guy been hiding? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40281471)

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'm saying you're not as limited when choosing a solution where multiple options are available. ... and open source means you need to tinker now?

What took them so long? (0)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#40281095)

I very seriously doubt that I'm the only one who predicted this more than a decade ago, back in the PDA era.

Still, being Android, I don't expect this to take off. While I'm a huge RIM supporter, the only player I can really see winning in this market would be Microsoft. A shame, really.

Docking Stations for the masses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281107)

This would be perfect for classes, conferences, meetings and public internet access points (internet coffee shops).

Imaging going to a conference or meeting with a phone, placing it on a docking station and you have a laptop at hand.

If it went that way, lets hope that this ClamBook thingy will have some hard-coded security features to prevent malaware and viruses. Companies always tend to f*ck things up just for a small amount of profit and so called marketing statistics / data.

Maybe this is the idea (2)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#40281137)

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!

Re:Maybe this is the idea (2)

otuz (85014) | about 2 years ago | (#40281275)

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.

Re:Maybe this is the idea (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#40281377)

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


Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281191)

And then run ...Angwy Boydies !! Turn OFF the phone radio !!

This idea fits with predictions (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#40281277)

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.

straw and clouds (1)

village fool (2046524) | about 2 years ago | (#40281283)

One more straw to break Micro$oft's back - and this could be a big straw. Yes, there is still the problem with proprietary office software, but isn't everything going to the cloud anyway? Beats tethering.

why laptop style? (1)

bfree (113420) | about 2 years ago | (#40281293)

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 real (desktop) browser or office suite on a phone is impractical for all but the most trivial uses on 4.x" resistive screen let alone the capacitive screens which appear to have taken over.

Nothing new about this idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281301)

There is nothing new about this idea of using a mobile phone with a laptop shell. Motorolla has a similar device known as lapdock since more than a year now:

ASUS PadFone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281341)

Isn't it the same thing? With the advantage of having also a tablet between the phone to laptop transformation.

Seems a shame to leave a processor out (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#40281365)

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.

Re:Seems a shame to leave a processor out (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40281635)

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 don't like is android x86 burns battery about as bad as any other OS. For whatever weird reason I subconsciously thought it would run for 12 hours like my phone, but it doesn't. Its not any worse than any other linux install, but not any better.

Re:Seems a shame to leave a processor out (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#40281693)

I can't do android development on android, so I do it on ubuntu on the eee. For me, android is fine for a phone but it is a long way from being adequate on a laptop.

License? (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#40281383)

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?

Been waiting for this (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#40281391)

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).

Fucking stupid - processors + storage are cheap (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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...

They coul do it loooooong ago.... (2)

vovkav (246694) | about 2 years ago | (#40281453)

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.

Warrantless Search? (1)

retech (1228598) | about 2 years ago | (#40281495)

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 already had this idea, which means HP does (1)

Targon (17348) | about 2 years ago | (#40281555)

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.

Re:Palm already had this idea, which means HP does (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281715)

I think you've missed the point of the article... The Foleo was a sub-notebook (NetBook before its time?) complete with its own CPU, memory, storage and IO. This article is about a dumb terminal that uses the smart-phone's CPU and memory.

If Hotels Support This ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281617)

The real game changer will be if the hotels business customers use roll these out. I will most certainly pick a hotel based on having a keyboard and screen I can drop the tablet into. When on longer trips, I bring a netbook, VGA cable and bluetooth keyboard so I can bring the damn netbook with me to meeting, but when back at the hotel I can plug in and stop cramping my hands and eyes. Damn the hotels that have only 720p TVs, by the way.

Wireless Dock (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 2 years ago | (#40281657)

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, but only power in a separate cable from an optional data cable connection.

Now we've got my mobile personal data and apps integrated into the local infrastructure, with grades of trust I can use without abandoning safety. Now it makes sense for me to BMOD, not just the cheapo management who can't spring for a $150 Android device of their own.

Obvious step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40281767)

It's as clear as day to me that desktops are dying and will be removed from 99% of offices, tablets and docks are the future. While we may scoff at the idea of reducing functionality from file-based to task-based devices, the rest of the world is anxiously awaiting it. Simplify the future and you win over the 99% of people who haven't got the time to learn the difference between ram and hard drive space.

Coming from a database programming job in my state government I can tell you it takes weeks for people to adapt and learn how to use windows in an office environment. I've yet to meet anyone at work who comes close to the speed and efficiency I'm running at when using a computer because of how difficult Windows/Linux/Mac is for the vast majority of people. Which is where I feel the whole notion of moving to a locked down/tablet system fails people here. These advances are aimed at improving technology to get into the hands of everyone, not the elite few who have the time and intelligence to learn how to operate them, ie the visitors of /.

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