One Smartphone to Control it All

Laptop, check. Smartphone, check. Tablet, check.To a lot of people, especially to the tech geek, this is how a normal day starts out. Laptops have been out for years now, and we know their advantages. Tablets are relatively new, at least in the sense of their wide-spread consumer appeal, thanks to none other than Apple. The smartphone also owes much of its current status to the growth Apple injected into the market releasing the iPhone. The thing is, these devices are starting to intersect more and more, and the necessity for separate devices becomes blurred. My only thought is, could we be moving toward a point where there is one device, the smartphone, will become the standalone mobile device?

I recently demoed the Motorola Atrix 4G and Laptop dock accessory. Using this device made me think if we really need more than one device to handle all of our mobile needs. The Atrix 4G is an Android smartphone that operates on AT&T. The Atrix 4G introduced a new era of powerful Android devices on AT&T’s network, and with the laptop dock had the potential to become your only device.

Connecting thru the USB and HDMI port to the laptop dock accessory, the Artix 4G launches into its “laptop mode”. The laptop dock although a good thought, seemed to be a bit lacking in the execution. The only standouts to the laptop dock are a full desktop browser, thanks to Mozilla’s Firefox, and specialized media app. The dock does actively charge the phone when connected, so that’s a plus. The browser, although a full browser, ran into a few hiccups when playing flash videos, performance significantly dropped and almost grinded to a halt. The phone itself is great, especially running Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), the front facing camera, and the NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset, but trying to justify the dock, I just can’t see it, yet.

Other manufacturers are joining in on this trend as Asus and CMIT have shown they are willing to try the dock accessory, with their Padphone and Transphone, respectively. And why not? I could get used to the idea of having one device that serves many purposes.

Since cellphones have been around, they have already seen upgrades by merging devices. One example is the camera. Could you imagine having a phone without a camera? Those devices, seemingly unrelated, have come together to essential forced you rethink what’s a necessity when buying a phone.

The next area that points to a convergence of devices is the operating system. Companies are looking more into finding ways to unify the user experience across all of their devices. Apple has already started to add things from its mobile platform iOS to its desktop platform OS X Lion. Microsoft has shown off their Windows 8 platform which will run a full version of Windows, but will also run a Metro UI that resembles their current Windows Phone OS. Google may head in that direction as well and merge their Chrome OS and Android.

Eventually, the experience is meant to simplify our lives, and what better way to do that than with one device. Think of a camera with different lenses, the same could be said of future smartphones. One phone with a laptop dock, tablet dock, camera dock, the possibilities are endless. I just hope it happens sooner, rather than later.


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