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Summary:

Most people today wouldn’t think of replacing their PC with a smartphone, but that future may not be far off. Amazing advances in hardware and software show this becoming a real possibility as shown in this fantastic video demonstration with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Galaxy Note 2 as a PC

Smartphone performance is improving so quickly that the handheld devices are closer than ever to replacing a full personal computer for some. This isn’t yet a practical solution for most people, but a demonstration video from a YouTuber named ColdFustion shows that the possibility is a reality thanks to high performing mobile chips, more internal memory in today’s modern smartphones and software that adds PC-like multitasking options.

Watch as a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is paired with an external monitor, wireless mouse and keyboard and a full sized-USB stick:

A few thoughts struck me as I watched this over the weekend after it surfaced on Chris Pirillo’s Google+ stream. Although I’ve followed the computer industry from my early days growing up in the late 1970’s, the video introduction reminds me how far we’ve come since then; especially in the last decade.

The computing power in our pocket is hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than that of desktop computers from my teenage years. My Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has 2 GB of RAM, a 1.6 GHz quad-core chip and a 1280 x 720 screen, for example. Compare that to my Commodore 64 from 1983 (which I still have): a paltry 64 kB — 39 or so which was usable — a 1.023 MHz chip and 300 x 240 resolution on a computer monitor. Surprisingly, the price for both is roughly the same, not adjusted for inflation; the C64 cost around $600 or a little less than what I paid for my no-contract Galaxy Note 2!

While the Android mobile interface isn’t optimized for a large external monitor, it appears easy enough to navigate and use on a bigger screen. And the right applications make all the difference. The ability to run multiple videos or browser tabs on a single screen while taking a Skype call, for example, is certainly something most would equate with a PC, not a smartphone. The gaming examples are PC-like as well. No, they don’t provide a cutting-edge PC experience, but they’re getting closer in many respects: graphics shading and texture, for example, as well as high frame rate support from today’s mobile. Add in the ability to use a wireless game controller and the experience is even better.

Am I recommending that people trash their computers and replace them with a smartphone? Not at all. I’m simply noticing where the smartphone is at when it comes to this possibility. Although I will admit that after watching the video, I’m giving the $99 Samsung Smart Dock a second look for my own Galaxy Note 2. It’s obviously not needed to use the handset in a PC setting, but with three USB ports and a full-sized HDMI interface, it makes it easier to take advantage of the smartphone hardware for computing use.

  1. Unlikely… I think a digital wearable watch or something like Google Glasses will replace the smartphone. Desktop and laptops are here to stay, they are heavy duty hardware made to create content, not to consume.

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  2. The key here is to find the most convenient way to get it done.
    Google hasn’t done much to better Android for bigger screens,there is ChromeOS, Ubuntu for Android that could be options some try.
    Next Win RT or WP could be a solution (we’ll have to wait and see).
    Wireless connections to the screen should make it a lot easier soon enough,allowing the phone to be used as a controller (call it keyboard, touchpad, 3D mouse , maybe soon gesture control) Integrated projectors should push it forward too – long way to go here since what is available is just some 25 lumens and 720p max and we might get to 50 lumens and 1080p soon with somewhat acceptable power consumption.
    What is certain is that they shouldn’t just try to replicate the desktop experience,they should push it forward.

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  3. Where is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review?

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      1. Cool – thanks for pointing that out. And nice to see ARM is paying attention to our community here. :)

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  4. This is the future. Docks will be standardized to work with most devices, just like USB is standard today for most devices. There will be common docks to work with both tablets and smartphones. Within 3-4 major versions, Android will have a big screen mode that is automatically enabled when the device is docked, or perhaps, the tablet interface will be enhanced to be more big screen-friendly. Most people will use their phone or tablet device as their primary computer. Workstations will consist of a monitor, keyboard, mouse and docking station. This is the future.

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  5. …are you high?

    Ever tried to code software on a smartphone…or run Illustrator…or create a PPT presentation….or write a proposal on a smartphone…editorials that suggest the PC is dead are just plain wrong…

    …here is the reality…PC’s with their large screens and wide key boards are targeted for use scenarios that involve long duration’s and low frequency of use…such as doing the things above…

    …smartphones are intended for the opposite…high frequency and short duration of use…such as checking emails, info, etc… because of their constricted keyboards and screens…

    …even with the addition of voice recognition to replace keyboards you still need the proper display for the proper use…

    …write a story on the reality

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    1. Good point. Every smartphone owner is also a coder. ;)

      See the caveats in the post: yes there are clear limitations here. No, I didn’t suggest the PC is dead or that folks should do this right now. The point was how far the technology has come and how much potential overlap there can be in the future as a result.

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    2. You apparently didn’t watch the video at all.

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    3. No need to be catty. Relax the deathgrip on your PC. It’s just an editorial.

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  6. I would hate to type up a book on a smart phone. Get over it, when people can’t read the type, and their eyes go bad from reading such tiny type, they will want BIGGER monitors, with lower resolution. I see it happening at my workplace already.

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    1. True. Our internal developers want to create apps laid out for screen resolutions of 1280h or higher, and our end users find anything higher than 1024h on a 19″ flatscreen “too small to read”.
      The users are winning out.

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  7. Smart phone can be your PC? Yes! Well who could ever thought of that. Now its happening. You can literally move your whole desktop and operate your smart phone as your work place wherever and whenever you can. Read about taking your show on the Road and how to work effectively wherever you may roam: http://www.dincloud.com/blog/Taking-your-show-on-the-Road

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  8. Logitech K760 or K810 pair with three devices PC, Tablet & smartphone & switch between with touch button

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  9. I think that’s a stretch to say they will totally replace the PC. They are obviously growing and the applications for them are expanding into many niches, but I do agree with qbist, the PC, desk and laptops are here to stay!

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  10. I don’t think it’s likely they will ever totally replace the PC.

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