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 — those computers in our pockets that allow us to use the Web, do email, work with documents, take photos, and videos, manage appointments and contacts etc., etc., etc. And, oh yes, make phone calls. Right! And with apps, these smartphones can do hundreds of other helpful computing tasks. They’re full-blown computers, and we’ve only begun to tap their potential.

Well, what if you could carry a smartphone around with you that contained all your applications, data, documents, photos, videos, contacts etc., etc., that you could plug into a terminal, say in the office, a coffee shop, the airport, etc., that provided a keyboard, screen, 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 on the device or in full mode on the next terminal. Think of how little redundancy and much convenience are afforded when you don’t have to sync everything and can work seamlessly wherever you go.

I’m not sure how close we are to that day, but we can see it coming. A new smartphone and docking station fulfills a good part of this dream: Motorola’s Atrix 4G, an Android smartphone that debuted at CES this week. It can turn your smartphone into a laptop, much as described above, through its accessory docking station. Could this configuration become a “laptop killer?” Future phones will need faster processors, more storage, and more powerful apps before they can replace our notebooks. But the past is prologue in computer hardware, so there is some assurance that it’s just a matter of time before our phones will compete with, if not replace, the computers we use every day.

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