Laptop Killer?

How many computers do you use most days? A desktop at work and a laptop for the road? Another desktop at home? How about a netbook for the couch? And then there’s your smartphone. Any accounting of computers would have to include those devices in our pockets that allow us to use the Web, do email, create (or at least edit) documents, take photos, videos, manage appointments and contacts, etc., etc., etc., and, oh yes, make phone calls, right? And with apps, these smartphones can do hundreds–maybe thousands–of other useful computing tasks — all because they are full-blown computers. We’ve just begun to tap the potential of these little devices.

Well, what if you could carry a smartphone around with you that contained all your data, documents, photos, videos, contacts, etc., etc., that you could then plug into a terminal wherever you went that provided a keyboard, monitor, pointing device and ports for external devices. After hooking up, the terminal would become a regular computer system with your exact computing environment ready to go. When finished, you unplug, and carry your  digital world with you to use in miniature form on the device, or in full mode on the next terminal. Think of how little redundancy and how much convenience  would be afforded when you don’t have to sync everything in order to have the current versions of everything on the computer you’re using now.

I’m not sure how close we are to that day but we can definitely see it coming. Now there’s a new smartphone and docking station that fulfills a good part of this dream. Motorola’s Atrix 4G, an Adroid smartphone that debuted at CES this week, can turn your smartphone into a laptop very much as described above through its accessory docking station. Could this configuration actually become a “laptop killer?” It will take some time — future phones will need faster processors, more storage and more powerful apps before they can truly replace our notebooks. But past is prologue in the world of computer hardware, so we can be reasonably assured that it’s just a matter of time before our phones are as powerful as the computers we use everyday.

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