Phone-Tablet-Computer Combination Concepts

The idea seems obvious, and the technology already exists. With the power of phones becoming equal to that of a laptop, the evolution to a combination seems inevitable. Already available (at least on eBay) is the Asus PadFone 2. This is a phone/tablet combination where the phone powers the tablet. You use the phone as normal, and when you want it to be a tablet, you slide it into the back of the tablet and presto, you’re using your phone with a tablet interface. Add a wireless keyboard and a mount for the tablet, and you’ve basically got a PC. Yippee ki yay mamacita!

There are a variety of advantages to this. First, you have instant cellular data without needing to tether anything. Second, the arrangement of your desktop remains similar if not identical, so things are where you placed them. Third, all the files on your phone are still on your phone, but now accessible from your tablet. There’s no need for transferring files across the cloud. Oh, you’ll still use the cloud to back things up, and maybe to access them via machines (say your work PC vs. your home machines). But, if there’s no cellular connection, or you don’t want to place your data in the cloud, now you don’t have to, and you’ll still have access to a single set of files – the ones on your phone.

It’s a cool idea, and technically, it should lower the cost of the tablet or PC. After all, your phone’s processor is doing all the work, so none of those components will ever be needed in the tablet or the keyboard display system. Your phone becomes your computer. Your tablet and your keyboard/display become ways of accessing and using your phone.

The NexPhone concept intends to take that all the way, with a phone that is the source processor for a tablet and a PC. It uses a dock to connect with its keyboard / monitor combination. And it snaps to the back of its tablet to become a tablet.

Now, while the concept is sound, and it seems like a logical evolution in computing, there is always the issue of user adoption. Pen-based devices, for example, were available long before they were actually adopted by users. The Apple Newton failed miserably. It took the Palm Pilot to drive adoption of pen-based computing and hand-held data assistants. And it was still something of a niche market for decades before it was killed by smartphones that provided the same features and didn’t require a pen for most of them. This phone/tablet/PC combination looks like it could be one of those concepts. It won’t be adopted quickly, but it may have a niche market among certain types of users.

Personally, I like the idea of having my phone by my tablet and my PC, so long as the cloud can back up my files for me in case I lose the phone, or it quits working. And there’s part of the detraction. If your phone goes out, then you’ve also lost your tablet and your PC. So it’s not all rainbows and ponies here. Plus, there’s still the cost for the convenience. I think what it will boil down to is how bothersome it is to use the cloud to transfer files. As cloud transfer systems like Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Dropbox become easier and more secure, people may see no reason to upgrade to a combination system if they already have a computer, tablet, and phone. And in that regard, this concept may never take off. At least not initially. As we have seen, technological mutations can sometimes rise up well after their initial rejection. User adoption is a fickle beast, and can turn at a moment’s notice.

I wonder where this idea will go. If you’re reading this in the distant future, let me know what happened.

2 Responses

  1. And here I thought the laptop that converts to a tablet was the latest thing …

    • I have a Lenovo that does that. It’s over ten years old. Predates the iPad, actually. Great machine, but it’s not a touch screen. Pen-based input only. On the up-side, it was much better for drawing than today’s touch-based tablets. Nowadays I just use it for browsing.

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