Smartphones: The Future of Personal Computers?

In 2015, Microsoft tried to obliterate the boundaries between smartphones and computers by introducing Continuum, a docking station that could turn a Windows 10-powered smartphone into a desktop computer. Two years later, Samsung did something similar, but this time on an Android platform, with Samsung DeX. It came with a user interface similar to Chrome OS and features like multi-window operation and such. Both of these solutions had one major shortcoming: they were limited to certain smartphone models only. Continuum only worked with Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950 XL, while Samsung DeX was only available for its Galaxy S8 and Note8 models. Running the Red Flush smartphone app – the future of mobile entertainment – in a desktop-like experience was off-limits for users of other phone models. But others were also inspired by the idea of turning a smartphone into a fully-fledged computer – and (almost) universal solutions were presented last year.

Sentio’s Superbook is an accessible solution for those who want to use their smartphones for more than their usual functions. It is a laptop shell fitted with an 11.6″ screen and a full notebook keyboard built into a laptop shell along with a few accessories, like a memory card reader and a battery pack offering it eight hours of autonomy. It also comes with an app that transforms the Android user interface into one similar to Chrome OS (and pretty much any other desktop operating system). The Superbook is available in two versions: the cheaper one costs $149 and comes with a 768p TN LCD screen and a standard keyboard, and the premium model costs $209 and comes with a 1080p IPS screen and a backlit keyboard. To use it, you’ll need a smartphone running Android 5.0 or above with 1.5 GB of RAM that supports USB-OTG.

The other universal solution is a bit more expensive but comes with more features. It is called the Mirabook, and the French startup Miraxess offers it. For one, it comes with a 13.3″ 1080p screen, a light aluminum body (the device weighs 1.4 kg or about 3 lbs), a backlit keyboard, and a battery pack that allows it to function for up to 10 hours. It also has two USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C port for charging, one USB-C port for connecting a smartphone, and HDMI output. It also comes with broader compatibility: it works with Android and Windows Phone-powered smartphones that can be charged via USB-C and support DisplayPort over USB C, Raspberry Pi devices, and ComputeStick devices. Mirrabooka can be pre-ordered for $249 and will be delivered sometime this May.

With these devices, smartphones will truly become the only computers we need – they will be perfect both for fun and for work. They are, indeed, the future of personal computers.

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