Poll: Would you use a mobile device as a desktop computer?


Needless to say that Android smartphones are powerful gadgets. We have already stopped using our computers and replaced them with our phones to perform many tasks. But as smartphone technology advances, the time when we can completely replace our PCs with our Android smartphones might not be very far off.

I have attempted to replace my laptop computer with the Transformer and laptop dock. This experiment lasted 2 weeks, and to say the least, it was a very frustrating time. But Android is evolving quickly, with quad-core smartphones, Chrome browser, and better UIs and applications being developed every day.

In this video, the user has hooked up his Samsung Galaxy Nexus to a monitor, and managed to get a great desktop experience with the help of a keyboard and touchpad. All main features work great with this set-up, and internet browsing looks like a breeze.

Other manufacturers are already making an attempt to unify computers, tablets and smartphones. Motorola and ASUS being the most notable, with devices like the Transformer, the Padphone and Motorola’s docks / desktop UI.

Using a mobile device as a computer replacement is not too convenient just yet, though. Performance is not quite there, and Android apps are nowhere close to beating some PC programs. Video/image editing, as well as other assignments would be a pain if performed only with a tablet (at least for now).

We have a long way to go, but projects like this make unified computing seem much closer. But what do you guys think? Participate in the poll posted below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

[polldaddy poll=5933994]

[Source: Clove Via: Droid-Life]

Edgar Cervantes

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  1. No way. My desktop is designated for certain task. such as podcasting and video editing. Just like I dont understand how people use their phones as their primary music device.

    1. If you ever used an iPod or mp3 you could understand. I don’t understand how you don’t understand how people use their smartphones as their primary music device.. do you still lug around a cd player? cassette player?have you ever owned those? its the same concept. as a matter of fact the reason is to cut down the many things you need to carry with you.

      1. You’re not understanding.   You’re latching on to “podcasting”.  He also said video editing.  No, an ipad using their crappy iMovie is NOT an efficient and useful editing app for anything other than a 2 min video.  Certainly not professional-friendly.    Editing audio, video and pictures (beyond the horrible filters in instagram) is a fail on mobile devices.  The apps, processing power, storage, OS and omission of external devices makes professional editing on a mobile device a fail. It’s getting there, but currently a fail.
        His point, which you clearly missed, has nothing at all to do with cutting down on things he carries yet utilizing a desktop/laptop for specific tasks that current and immediate future tablets and mobile devices just cannot perform.   Even an Air is horribly limited without needing external devices hooked to it, some of which aren’t even on the market yet (see thunderbolt IO devices for editing/capture)

  2. Heck yeah!!!

  3. Its all about the two: Read Only And Random Access man, you got enough of both and the right hardware you can do just about anything on a PORTABLE computer.

  4. I’ve always envisioned the future as a mobile device (like a phone) that docks into various setups. Like docking it at your desk and it will connect to your two monitors and keyboard/mouse. Or you can dock it into your TV, to run it. 

  5. adding an image to a message board post is a chore on a smartphone or tablet. the fact that small tasks like that become arduous means we have a long way to go. i even find myself closing my laptop to go to my desktop and use two screens because i find it so restrictive.

    Ideally we’d be able to have the smartphone be the base. so if you are using it by itself, it has a smartphone interface, if its plugged into a modular tablet display then it has a different interface, and then if it is docked as a laptop it will have a laptop-friendly interface.  if you have a desktop setup, there should be a dock for your smartphone to attach to and it can display the interface on multiple monitors if need be.  all of these can potentially augment the power of the smartphone, the same way that external video cards can augment a laptop’s power through a dock.  that is my computing dream. 

    1. True, but adding pictures and the like to something like facebook is easier on my phone than my computer. On a computer you have to save the file, go to FB, find the file, then post.
      On my phone, I long press on the picture, it share>facebook>post.

      So while most things are easier on a computer, theres something to be said about the simplicity of smartphone UI’s

  6. the only things i use my W7 laptop and/or XP work computer for are as follows:

    -playing flash files (school) 
    -Lego Digital Designer
    -iTunes (still the best media manager out there, and i don’t like cloud services)
    -Android development tools

    If those programs come to android, i will GLADLY ditch “desktop OSes” for my android tablet. i need the bigger screen tho, can’t do a lot on my phone.

    1. Pretty sure minecraft is on android o_O

      1. not the full desktop version – its the “lite version” at best. And no mods FTL.
        same thing goes for autocad.

    2. iTunes is a poor media manager. What do you mean i can’t sync my friends playlist apps or movies to my iPod without erasing my information. Yay apple… sarcasm.

    3. God I hope you are kidding about itunes, it doesn’t even support FLAC. How can you think itunes is the best media manager?

  7. Never say never, but I’m a long way from being able to play Skyrim on my phone.

    1. You can play Skyrim on the Transformer Prime… you may not be as far away as you think.

      1.  Not really. Not at 1920×1080 with antialiasing, high resolution textures, mods, keyboard and mouse control and such like.

        1. An x86 Windows 8 tablet will support all of that assuming the hardware is powerful enough. Since Windows Phone 8 will be the same kernel and largely the same code base, it’s not far-fetched to think a powerful x86 phone could do all of that when docked in a couple of years.

          1.  In a couple of years maybe, but then a more demanding sequel will be out. I did mean never say never, but for the foreseeable future these docking solutions will be lagging behind what desktops can handle.

          2. The Windows 8 UI will make it feel less like a desktop and more like a lite version of windows.

          3. If you’re docked, use the desktop – exactly like Windows 7 with a few improvements.

            If you’re using touch, the Metro UI will serve you well.

      2. Not really, it plays on the PC and you use the Prime as a remote display/controller. Hardly the same as running the game on your mobile device.

    2. never.   There’s no way compositing or real 3D apps will make it on a mobile device within the next 5 years.   After 5 years I’ll say that mobile devices will have the same power as current PCs (not macs..they’re just fruit themed PCs but a year behind on specs).    We’ll be able to dock our tablets and get access to full keyboard, mouse, wacom and so on.   Who knows, maybe a mini-Thunderbolt option will be available for external devices.

      1. Fruit themed PC’s, you’re having a laugh.

        I work daily with PC’s, I have a Sony Vaio Laptop and all a bitch slow in loading and running. I sending this post from my new iMac and man it loads fast, app as fast and even in 3 years time it will run like new. Yeh if you have the latest PC hardware you might boot up in 2 mins if the antivirus lets you.

  8. 1280×720 on a 22inch monitor would bug me

    1. I think it scales automatically. Video outputs in 1080p at least on my Galaxy S2 when connected to a monitor.

  9. I already do most things on my phone and tablet

  10. 1 really good application of this is bypassing carriers wanting you to not tether

  11. i use my desktop for daw only

  12. As far as the mobile devices have come, I still say no. i’m a programmer, Web designer, 3d designer and graphic designer, my computer still takes rank. I can see the ability to do that stuff in phones but I don’t see them being as easy to use.

    1. I wouldn’t want to do most of that stuff with a laptop, let alone a phone.

      1. I do most of it on a desktop but i’m on the go all the time so I also do it on a laptop. I prefer Web design and graphics design on my laptop. My 3d design is done on my desktop.

  13. I have to agree with others. Content creation and editing are still a looooong ways off for mobile devices. I work with photos and while their are some photo editing tools for mobile devices, they come with A LOT of constraints that I’m not willing to give into. (Nor should anyone!)

  14. I would not replace my desktop with a mobile device for a few ones and the main point is that I can get so much more done with a keyboard and mouse and a large 20inch monitor then I could ever do on a small 3-10 inch device. I am also a pc gamer at heart because I am able to mod my games and make them so much better once the game starts getting stale. and another thing touscreens and touchpads just suck for gaming. I hate trying to game on a laptop using a touchpad it just doesnt work for me so I need a real mouse for it.

  15. Only if it had a full OS on it.

      1. I’ll definitely be getting a Windows 8 Tablet. They sound very promising.

        1.  Now if someone comes out with a windows 8 tablet like the Transformer series by asus that include a good keyboard dock then I might get it for some of the lighter tasks that I dont need a full pc for. like some of the tasks I use my current tablet for such as movie watching and browsing the web. as typing thing these these comments would be a lot better on a real keyboard and the touchpad is ok for the basic stuff like web browsing.

      2. No

        1. How open-minded of you :P

  16. Hell no. I love having the ability to build my own custom desktop piece by piece, overclocking, modding the case and doing what I please to it. Mobile devices seem to always be locked down by the manufacturer and just don’t compare to desktops in speed or functionality.

  17. yes and no. not the way this guy does it at least. now i would say that if it would display android ICS in “tablet mode” when hooked up to that screen then maybe. i use my HP TP with a bluetooth kb and mouse and it pretty much replaces my 2nd gen i5 laptop for everything except for SWTOR. like others mentioned they would need some major companies to jump on board….i.e. skyrim, cad, wow, real adobe products ie photoshop, dreamweaver, ext….

  18. No I would not unless if I could Download ares, limewire, and watch porn without any lag Yea

    1. I have no issues with my Porn. 

      You’re watching it wrong.

    2. You can download torrents on android phones. I didn’t realise Limewire was still a thing

      1. No it’s not. They were closed down in 2010.

      2. Its kinda a pain in the ass though. And slow… I dont wanna be downloading HD movies through my phone

        1. Downloading torrents on my phone is usually faster over the same wifi connections that peoples’ laptops. I’m not sure if this is a general trend or just something I’ve found on the Galaxy S2, but it would make some sense that a phone would have really good wireless tech.

  19. Call me back when you can at least develop for Android ON Android.

    I’m already used to low-power nettop desktops (intel Atom CPU w/ nvidia ion GPU for 1080p h/w accel), so performance isn’t the main issue for me. Also, I doubt an Android ‘desktop’ could ever satisfy power users as much as a pure Linux distro does.

    1. Just grab yourself a copy of Terminal IDE (free in the market), if you’d like to develop on your Android device.  I’ve been using it on the ASUS Transformer, and it works quite well.

  20. I definitely think this is going to be the future. You have your phone with you all the time. And you can do most of what you need to do. But some things are just easier with a full size screen and keyboard/mouse. But I think eventually there will be more storage in the cloud and your phone will be your one and only computer that you dock when you get home.

  21. it is basically a computer right now for a more basic/intermediate user.

    you can download and extract, you can watch many types of video formats, it plays your music, you can create documents, you can send emails, you can check your bank account, go on youtube. 

    but for stuff like editing videos and programs to create content or to develop or gaming, its not quite there yet.

    almost tho. we went from nothing in 2009 to all this in about 3 years. give it some more time and yeah definitely.  

  22. I think Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) looks to be the best chance of reaching this for now. It’ll run the same code base as full-scale Windows. If there’s an x86 medfield-style Windows 8 Phone, it could potentially give a similar experience to a Windows PC today on the mobile.

    Something that would instantly improve the experience shown in the video is if there were an option in Android to manually adjust the screen-size and DPI to match the monitor, so rather than the 4.65″ 720p interface on a 23″ 1080p screen, it adjusts as though it’s a 1080p 23″ tablet.

  23. My current computer has 16GB RAM, Quad-Core i7, 17.3in LED screen, full keyboard, 1.5 Terabytes of storage, 3GB DDR5 Video Card, etc. Even my amazing Galaxy Nexus isn’t anywhere near competing on a spec-level basis.

    Maybe phones can achieve these tasks through doing the same things through lighter alternatives, but they cannot fully perform Photoshop, real games, video editing, etc.

    Also, that “in the future they’ll be more powerful” argument is useless because Desktop Computers will not stop evolving either. One day phones will do what Desktops currently do, but they will never be equal within the same time period.

    1. But you reach a point where more power is redundant. I’m sure hardware manufacturers will find more things that require more speed, but if you can generate full HD graphics in an open world, and edit photos with a higher resolution than the eye can see…

      It reaches a point where you have a choice between a phone that can do everything you need that you can carry everywhere in your pocket, or a desktop that can do everything you need plus things you can brag about that is restricted to a desk.Also, your screen size, keyboard and storage (to an extent) are redundant in this argument because they can all be connected to the phone.I don’t think that day will come for quite a few years, but you can’t honestly say it won’t happen eventually.Also, with a computer that powerful, why the tiny screen – is it a high-end laptop?

      1. It is a high end laptop. The “small” screen is much larger than my Nexus “large” screen however.

        I do believe in an eventual future like you described, but not for at least another 30 years.

        1. Yeah, but you plug the Nexus into a 23″ screen and suddenly it wins. The screen size on the phone doesn’t matter when it’s docked. Obviously nobody expects a 4.3″ screen to be enough.

          Whether we get to a point where desktops are redundant or not, I think we’ll see phone-docking setups in workplaces for basic desk tasks in the near future (by 2015 perhaps). The kind of jobs that they use computers from 2004 because it’s “good enough”.

      2. There is always a need for more power, in the 90s people were saying the same thing about 500 MHz is all that will ever be required, we are now running OC water cooled CPUs at 5 GHz and soon there will be programs that will even melt these CPUs, it’s a constant development between software requirement and hardware power, eventually you have a real world that is controlled by your nerve impulses and sent through your optic nerves (this point if far from reached yet), which has to be able to keep up with the human brain (well for some brains I am sure an ARM cortex 9 will do lol).

  24. I attempted my Transformer with dock but I have to go back to my pc for Microsoft office. Excel cannot be beat! Another issue is screen size, I love my 17″ laptop, there are no tablets with a large screen like that, yes I can hook it up to a bigger size but I have no touch capability

  25. You (like many others) seem to have missed the point. The mobile isn’t replacing your TV, monitors, keyboard, mice or external storage. It’s about whether you can use it to replace your desktop tower. Obviously at the moment it’s not feasible for the average consumer, but consider;

    High-end phones out NOW are roughly as powerful as $1000 laptops from when Vista came out. My Galaxy S2 (and presumably the Nexus) are able to output video in 1080p (true HD) on any screen you connect it to. Hardware-wise, it’s not much of a stretch once you connect up a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

    You wouldn’t be able to play high-end games of course, but the limiting issues for average day-to-day tasks (or the kind of work you need to do at work) are around the software. But again, consider

    Windows Phone 8 will be built on the same kernel as Windows 8 and share a lot of code. If they desktop UI is built in somewhere (which isn’t much of a stretch) in the future so that it can  display when it detects HDMI connection to an external monitor – you have full Windows running on your phone. This includes the multi-tasking and pure functionality. If Apollo is available on Medfield-esque x86 phones from Intel, you’ll be able to do pretty much everything you do now on your desktop.

    Also, there is already an x86 phone that runs pure Windows 7 with a Windows 8 version in the works – this could literally plug into everything for the instant desktop software experience. All you need is powerful enough hardware for what you want.

    Suddenly it doesn’t seem so “dumb”, does it?

  26. I think that MOST people could do everything they do on their computers with a good smart phone. Gamers and others who want/need a larger screen and controllers/joy sticks, etc.will NEVER be satisfied with just a phone.

    If phones could interface with monitors/keyboards/mice at any desk in any office/airport/hotel, etc. then nearly everyone would only use their phone.

    Soon they will be all interconnected and pinned on your shirt….I just hope we aren’t required to cut our sideburns like CPT Kirk.

    1. EXACTLY! These won’t replace peoples’ gaming rigs or intensive graphical work battle-stations any time soon – but I would wager 90% of people who use a computer at a desk for work could switch tomorrow with the right software support.

  27. Once there’s VMWare for Android, I’ll jump right in. Before that – no way, I’ve got work to do.

  28. What we are seeing in that video IS the future. You will have one device that does everything.  Basically you’ll be able to dock your mobile device and have a keyboard, mouse and large LCD readily available.  You’ll then be able to use you your favorite imaging editor or play your favorite game.   The mobile device will transform itself into a desktop at home.

    I agree,  right now mobile hardware has some catching up to do but with the quick progress of IC technology and the fact that we’re already seeing intel and Nvidia getting into the mobile business, it will not be very long before a smartphone is as powerful as an entry-level PC. 

    I also see Android evolving into a hybrid OS, supporting both a desktop format (higher resolutions for use with large LCD) and a mobile, switching between the 2 as needed.

  29. How does his homescreen rotate to landscape?  is that part of HDMI out??

  30. The future, fairly distant, but none the less, the future is where you have your phone as your #1 source of computing. You have your mobile phone OS, then you go to your office set your phone near your monitor, and wirelessly streams a Desktop optimized version of the OS (Designed for use of mouse and keyboard).

    Same with tablet (Padphone, or wireless transfer), and since you are effectively bringing an OS to monitors, the same would go with TV’s. Set your phone by your TV, and shazam! Google TV. All optimized for the screen size, one platform!

    I present to you the future my friends.

  31. My phone is 50 times more powerful than my 1st PC lol!

    1. I don’t get the point of your post.  Your current PC is probably 1000x faster than your 1st PC.   You use applications on your current PC that were never available or even thought of on your 1st PC.   That’s like saying your dad’s old pinto is faster than your bike.   Who cares?

  32. This IS the future you know?!!? One day the mobile phone will be the ONLY device you need. It will wirelessly connect to all your peripherals(monitor/keyboard/mouse/printer) when you are at work. When you get home at night it will wirelessly connect to your home theatre. Wirelessly connect to your “tablet”.(when you want a larger screen to read your books/etc…)

    You will have your basic things on the phone and EVERYTHING will be cloud based.I’ve been saying this for at least a year now. Think I’m wrong? Go ahead… but just remember this post 5 or 6 years from now when this is reality.

  33. I don’t think that “some” people are getting the question. It’s quite simple, if your phone or similar mobile device is/was/will be in the future powerful enough to do everything your current PC (just the tower, not the keyboard, mouse and screen) can, could you live that way?  Why have a tower if something much smaller can do the same thing? Hell people are already replacing them with these lighter and much smaller air type laptops. 

    I’ve been telling friends for the last three years that by 2015 that is what will happen. You’ll be be able to come home and plug your mobile device into your TV(computer monitor) and then plug in a keyboard and mouse and use it just the same as you would if it was an actual computer. You can already do it to some degree as shown, but with how fast the technology is growing then everything that your current computer can do today will be done by your mobile device by that time IMHO.  Hell my phone is already more powerful then the laptop I purchased 4 years ago it just doesn’t have a hard drive that is as big.  However even with how old it is I can still plug it into my big screen and watch TV and movies via Hulu and Netflix all day in HD, it’s not so far fetched to think I’ll be replacing that laptop with a much smaller device when it stops working.

    With the cloud I could easily listen to music/play games/watch tv/movies, write documents/edit video’s….etc. with a mouse and keyboard plugged in, well I’m sure it will be via something similar to blue tooth and it will all be wireless. No need for a DVD/Blue Ray player with UltraViolet type technology. I already browse the internet with my phone. 

    It’s a done deal…

  34. As it it? no, right now mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are killing the need for a netbook but a laptop or Pc? not even close. I believe it can get to that point to where our smartphone is a portable pc but the UI and functionality needs to be there thats all thats really missing. I mean you look at android now you think mobile OS with the UI the whole point of a desktop or laptop is a full OS. 

  35. A Full OS on a Smartphone with output to any scale size tv would be awesome and then have one of those infrared keyboards. honestly the reason there is a desktop is so that we can just sit down and do our business nothing can really replace that luxury. theres no killing desktops.  

  36. Personally the small screens, even tablets (compared to 27″ desktop screen) cannot replace a PC, nor do they intend to, mobile computing is handy, but it is nowhere near as efficient. Just the input methods alone are tedious compared to a full-sized keyboard and a mouse. I know you can get keyboards for phones and tablets, but lets face it carrying these around defeats the purpose of the added mobility, just get a laptop instead. The other thing is power, I can’t multitask on a tablet or phone as well as on a PC because the performance is not there yet, the other problem is also that the access of multitasking functions still needs extra steps a CTRL-Tab is still faster than holding down a home button and wait until the last 8 apps show up, or making a swipe gesture and see all the open apps in small tabs then choose one.
    Overall I love having the option of being mobile, but the PC is far from replaced, it would be so inefficient not having one.

    1. Me thinks you missed the point of the article

  37. Can Wait!
    It’ll be nice to connect phone to any tv wireless, use phone as mouse and type with gesture. I give PCs max 5-10 years.

  38. You should think about renaming the article title seeing as nowadays many/most people probably do use mobile devices as their desktops.
    They are called laptops. o_O?

    Now as for our mobile phones and tablets replacing our desktops? I’m expecting the ASUS padfone to replace my laptop which has already replaced my desktop. Phone to tabet dock to keyboard dock. Me want……

    I really dun do much extensive work on my computer anymore nowadays. Just browsing the web and IMs pretty much sums it up except on my art tablet. I don’t know how long it will be before there is better/more support for penabled devices but until then I’ll be sticking with Motion Computing for that. The current crop of sylized devices is rather lackluster imho. Samsung note is just way to small. HTC and Lenovo tempted me, but no enough. Ill stick to my Motion with Wacom until there is some sort of REAL alternative to replace my art tab.

  39. Already 1 year and until now I use my Motorola Atrix 4G with Motorola Laptop Dock to be my personal Laptop / Notebook / Netbook in my home and Motorola Atrix HD Multimedia Dock to be my PC in my office. Now I use Motorola Razr dan Motorola Droid Razr with Motorola LapDock 500 Pro to be my Laptop / Notebook / Netbook and Motorola Razr / Motorola Droid Razr HD Multimedia Dock / HD Station to be my PC. 80% my work on my Motorola LapDock 500 Pro and Motorola HD Multimedia Dock. Fast and simple just bring my Motorola Razr / Motorola Droid Razr. Too late for Samsung.

  40. Mobile computing just isn’t there yet. They don’t have powerful enough of a CPU or gpu. If my galaxy nexus lags sometimes through whale trail I don’t think it can handle adobe premiere or any other intensive software. I love my phone but I believe until we see tablets that can go head to head with an i7 laptop and the results be close. I will have to own both. I love tablets and phones and I am very excited for the day when there is one device to rule them all

  41. I only have a phone, I’ve never really had a computer. But my needs are met with it nevertheless. I can call, text, surf, email, and download. But I’m sure if I had more power I would use it.

  42. Maybe not as desktop computers, maybe as mobile laptops as we have already seen with the Transformer

  43. I don’t have a desktop computer, I have laptops, an HTPC (running XBMC) and a server that is currently just a FreeNAS box, but would like to be able to convert it to a VM server. This would negate using a Transformer Prime or similar’s downsides (specifically software) but simply using remote desktop or some other protocol when at home or abroad. I have used RDP on my Nook Color, but would expect a lot more responsiveness out of a Transformer Prime. Has anyone else done this or thought about it?

  44. Can’t wait for better integration , would be nice to do away with all the different coms and devices and just have one unified device that docks to form other useful devices , ie … lapdock , tabletdock .
    Can’t wait .

  45. Are you serious?  Once upon a time the question might have been: would you have a computer on your desktop?

    Now everybody does.

    Of course using your mobile device as a desktop computer is the future.  We’ll all be doing it.  Eventually.  I’m not setting a date.

    All it takes is:
    * adequate hardware power
    * a much larger software base that replaces all our current desktop software — and that’s a tall order

  46. I could use it if I had to. It would be a cheaper option since I am going to have the phone, but I wouldn’t be happy with loosing advanced gaming and the dozens of windows programs I use. If MS Office came to android it would make it so that I could use my phone for all official things, but entertainment and productivity would be better on a real desktop. In a couple of years this might change.

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