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.