Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?

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Offline Karsten

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I don't own a cell phone but I hear many interesting things about them. Especially the ability to connect to the web and other definitely existing features are fascinating since they may allow me to replace my desktop computer, internet connection, conventional phone service, digital camera, voice recorder, etc.. Are the better cellphones so advanced that they can replace a basic desktop computer or laptop? I would want to connect a full size keyboard to my phone. Could I? How about a larger monitor, could I attach one? How about software compatibility? Freeware? Open source operating systems? Speakers? Earphones? Listening to internet radio anytime I have cell phone service? Is that all possible?

I know, I know. Lots of questions. But I trust you folks more than cellphone sales representatives.
« Last Edit: 28/11/2009 15:46:20 by Karsten »
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Offline techmind

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« Reply #1 on: 28/11/2009 22:53:07 »
Mobile phones are becoming more and more sophisticated and are getting good enough to do some basic web-browsing such as a Google search to find local taxi companies, to check the weather forecast, news headlines, traffic report, summon Google maps, or check out what friends are doing on Facebook.

That said, the experience falls far short of what you could do with a proper laptop.
-I'm not aware that any phone on the market could connect to a full-size screen (this is somewhat outside the remit of a phone)
-I think some of the smartphones do have some accessory keyboards - but they still won't be as ergonomic as a proper keyboard
-the internet connection can be reasonable if you have a good "3G" mobile-phone signal, but when you're out of coverage the speeds are agonisingly slow (virtually like an old dial-up modem)
-You should be aware that the phone networks often intercept your web-browsing to give a cut-down version of the web (faster to download) with shrunk images and other dynamic reformatting. This can 'break' some websites (especially those with complicated layout and not really intended for mobile use) and make them unusable on your phone.

In-built digital cameras in phones are great as a freebie, but the resolution is a bit below what you'd get on a stand-alone digital camera, they'll rarely have a proper flash, and the low-light performance is pretty ropey. Given that the camera module in a phone adds no more than a dollar or two to the handset cost, what do you expect? Also the lens gets scuffed and covered with dust and pocket-lint, so after a few months the picture quality will be degraded compared to when the phone was new.

Probably you could listen to internet radio on some advanced models (provided the 3G signal was good enough), but you'd probably run the battery down in a few hours, and your contracted data-allowance may get used up pretty fast (radio might well be 40 megabytes per hour or something).


What you might consider is what they call a 'netbook' which is a somewhat cut-down and slimmer laptop, typically running Windows or Linux with integrated 3G data-modem which works off the mobile phone network. In the UK at least you can buy these from the phone companies on a contract model where you pay £25/month (perhaps US$40/month) for a 2-3 year contract which pays for both the computer and the ongoing data-service. By the end of the contract you own the netbook (no, or minimal up-front payment).


I have 3G (mobile-network based) data-modem USB dongle which gives "broadband" internet. If I only ever used this with a laptop, on the move, I'd be thrilled with it. In reality I use it as my home broadband with my desktop computer (I'm in rented accomodation and didn't want to commit to long wired-broadband contracts)... it works reasonably well, but it has a number of teething troubles indicative of an immature technology and is a passable, but poor, substitute for real wired broadband. I suspect how well it works depends on the operators attitude to it, and we get the impression in the UK that its a far lower priority than voice-calls! I don't know what things are like in the USA.
« Last Edit: 28/11/2009 23:07:37 by techmind »
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Offline Geezer

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #2 on: 29/11/2009 01:36:38 »
Unless you are continually on the move, don't bother with a feature loaded phone. It's all just another way to separate you from your money.

Mobile phones are great for one thing. Phone calls! I have a basic Nokia and pre-paid T-Mobile service that I only use when I'm not at home. I buy 1000 minutes for $100. They last for a year. If I buy more before the year is up, they roll them over into the next year.

It costs me about $8 a month! Try getting a mobile contract at that price. They'll try to talk you into a bunch of features you'll probably never use.
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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #3 on: 29/11/2009 11:45:39 »
The convergence between mobile phones and 'conventional' personal computers (including laptops and netbooks) is a certainty.

The issues needing to be addressed are the screen size, data input and control, and of course, power.

The screen and data input/control issues will eventually be solved by in-eye laser projection systems.  The in-eye projection system will also incorporate a scanner so that it can also be used for iris scan identification, so that several different people can be simultaneously identified and fed customised feeds.  The same technology will also handle data input by overlaying a virtual keyboard, where needed, and handle control by tracking gestures.

I'd be surprised if the in-eye projection and scanner system hasn't already been prototyped by now, but power is still looking to be a bit of a problem for the foreseeable future.
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Offline Karsten

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« Reply #4 on: 29/11/2009 14:12:46 »
Thank you so far for all those super-informative answers. I will wait with getting a cell phone.

The pre-paid version is an option. It is useful occasionally and for emergencies. Not necessarily because I need the mobile phone but because everyone else has one these days and forgot how to communicate or organize their lives without one. Or just plainly expects that you have one and should be able to help yourself. Try finding a pay phone these days! One per town, maybe.

The netbook sounds interesting. I will wait for further developments. Maybe I can avoid buying a computer and broad-band internet service to replace what I leave behind. I currently use equipment that is not mine.

In-eye projection sounds scary.

And I do hate to be separated from my money if I don't get something good for it.


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Offline santosh09

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« Reply #5 on: 04/12/2009 07:30:15 »
now a days cellphone is more necessary than laptop.cellphone is so sophisticated than that for taking.now in the market more advanced cellphone are available.by through cellphone we browse,chat &do diff.thing.i think cellphone are good than a laptop in more cases.
there was some spam here, now it's gone
« Last Edit: 04/12/2009 19:24:03 by BenV »

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« Reply #6 on: 04/12/2009 19:05:24 »
Must be one of those Spamish cellphones.
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Offline JimBob

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« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2009 19:31:20 »
Yep, they use ALL of the pig these days. Used even in call phones.
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #8 on: 05/12/2009 00:17:31 »
I bought a Moto Q...smart phone from Motorola two years ago... and I lov e my phone. I pay $79.00 a month for unlimited internet  and phone service along withs Wi-Fi so that I also use my wi-Fi to use my note book anywhere I am without worry. This cost includes unlimited texting and everyring....all unlimited callin both natioal as well as international calls... my phone has usb hookup and I wil try it with my big compuer etc, and let you know. I am on phone now! I love my phone service.... Love it... It has video capabilities music.. sound etc....

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #9 on: 05/12/2009 04:08:10 »
Sounds like Karen's got a techno addiction!

My phone's got a teddy bear on its wallpaper. Top that.

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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #10 on: 05/12/2009 06:45:49 »
My phone has a teddy bear on the wall paper too, but of the human male Naked variety!! LOL,,,, Topped indeedy!
« Last Edit: 05/12/2009 06:47:34 by Karen W. »

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #11 on: 05/12/2009 07:10:29 »
Yeah, well send us a.........on second thoughts, no, don't bother. OK. You win.
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #12 on: 05/12/2009 07:17:41 »
LOL... Yes well...indeedy I do!!! LOL And he is one hell of a handsome old geezer too! LOL..LOL...

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #13 on: 05/12/2009 07:21:35 »
Under no circumstances post the picture! We'll take your word for it.
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #14 on: 05/12/2009 07:28:20 »
MOI.... Post a picture....LOL Never.. my private stash mine mine mine mine alone...LOL...

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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #15 on: 05/12/2009 07:31:02 »
I have a young friend who has a pole dancing young lady dancing Naked on his screen......She sashays across his screen and works her pole quite well! LOL.. Thats the one you boys need! LOL.....

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Offline Karsten

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« Reply #16 on: 05/12/2009 16:01:45 »
I bought a Moto Q...smart phone from Motorola two years ago... and I lov e my phone. I pay $79.00 a month for unlimited internet  and phone service along withs Wi-Fi so that I also use my wi-Fi to use my note book anywhere I am without worry. This cost includes unlimited texting and everyring....all unlimited callin both natioal as well as international calls... my phone has usb hookup and I wil try it with my big compuer etc, and let you know. I am on phone now! I love my phone service.... Love it... It has video capabilities music.. sound etc....

That is close to $1000 a year just for the service! I better check some numbers. All the stuff I want adds up of course, so maybe it ends up being that much or more if not combined. Gulp.
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #17 on: 05/12/2009 20:24:29 »
I try not to think about yearly cost because I refuse to have a land line when my cell phone does the job better then a land line without crazy fees for long distance etc..  so combined wi-fi + unlimited Internet for my phone, + plus a handy dandy camera + texting and picture messaging and all the amenities of my big computer along with the fact that on bad days when I cannot sit up enough to use my notebook, I can lie down on my side, back, etc and use my phone to do everything my computer does..
There are two drawbacks for me.. I love cut and paste, but I have not figured out how to do it on my phone as of yet! Also the keypad is small. I can see pictures just fine just like my computer also transfer them to my computer when I have saved them to my phones Hard drive.. My phone is a computer also has a desktop storage basically the same as my computer but with less storage of course.. when I need to save something I can use my USB and transfer to my computer..

My keys have a slight rounded hump to them which pose difficulty for me as a woman who likes pretty hands and long nails..LOL nails tend to slip off the key and make typos. Truth be known I am an excellent speller and am entirely to lazy to go back on my phone and correct errors that happen.. because of the keys and my nails..LOL
I am, right at this moment, sitting up in my bed using my phone for my Wi-fi connection with my USB, which is also charging my phone as I use it. My phone came with two batteries so that one would be charging, or charged while the other is in use.
I also bought a power converter for my car from Harbor Freight, so that rather then waisting my battery while using both my notebook and phone that I can plug in the converter to the lighter hole, and then Plug my notebook straight into converter, just like a regular household outlet with a three prong, grounded hole.

This means if I have forgotten to shave my legs before pool time.. I can pull out my electric razor and plug it into a regular plug in the converter, and it converts my car power for use with my personal accessories.. Hell.. I can power my curlers and set my hair if I so chose to do it! LOL

A power converter is really very inexpensive and offers a lot of flexibility to my phone, notebook or many other problems...

I was without power for 7+ months and this gadget was a life saver!

LOL.. I do so love technology!!! LOL...

Anyway I hope you find something cool that will work for your needs.. I have had great luck with my smart phone, but I really looked around. Most people who have used my phone rather then their Blackberries prefer my phone, and have said that it works better then their Blackberries, and was virtually hands down better in the fact that it functions as more of a computer then a phone. The phone is really secondary, but the service has been great! I am not sure that I could ever part with my phone... it would take a mighty good demonstration to prove that another was better! LOL.. They have ceased making the model I have now but the newer one was the lime green model and they have only a handful left in Eureka which I could upgrade to.. They stopped making them..:(!  I have not yet checked out the newest moto Q to replace the ones I am familiar with.

Oh Yeah My Moto Q initially cost me $400.00 dollars..USA. Will cost me $125.00 to upgrade to the green model should they have any left when I go to upgrade!
« Last Edit: 05/12/2009 20:40:56 by Karen W. »

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Offline Karsten

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« Reply #18 on: 05/12/2009 22:25:32 »
Karen - I appreciate the detailed explanation of what your phone can do. It is in many ways what I am looking for. I will have to check how this would work out where I live since this is "the boons". Of course there is an initial cost but that is the same with any computer. Having a computer that can do most basic work and make phone calls is great. I still wonder if it will be able to run typical PC software. I may have to wait a little longer when it comes to non-communication software on phones (accounting, drafting, etc.).

I will hate being stuck with a company and having to upgrade (and pay for it) every few years even though nothing is wrong with the device I use. Growth-based economies suck this way. Always more, more, more. Never it is allowed to stay just fine the way it is.
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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #19 on: 05/12/2009 22:26:46 »
The green model has no batteries, so you have to hand crank it  [;D]
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #20 on: 05/12/2009 22:29:10 »
LOL...LOL Geezer...hand crank...No batteries.. LOL..

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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #21 on: 05/12/2009 22:52:54 »
Karen - I appreciate the detailed explanation of what your phone can do. It is in many ways what I am looking for. I will have to check how this would work out where I live since this is "the boons". Of course there is an initial cost but that is the same with any computer. Having a computer that can do most basic work and make phone calls is great. I still wonder if it will be able to run typical PC software. I may have to wait a little longer when it comes to non-communication software on phones (accounting, drafting, etc.).

I will hate being stuck with a company and having to upgrade (and pay for it) every few years even though nothing is wrong with the device I use. Growth-based economies suck this way. Always more, more, more. Never it is allowed to stay just fine the way it is.

I am not required to upgrade and the reason I wanted to upgrade was because the lime green was my favorite color and I have plain black, the only one my Q came in that year...LOL.. I am not sure how much better the lime green one is..LOL just easier on my eye thats all...

By the way I live kinda in the sticks in Northern California.. so reception is really hard but My moto Q gets perfect reception using US cellular!...So I would definitely check things out... i have a calculator and other programs email etc. etc...It will sync
 with my computer as well as other devices.. hands free etc speaker phone all the good stuff.. really..

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Offline Karsten

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« Reply #22 on: 06/12/2009 15:17:35 »
You are good. Do you sell these things?
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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #23 on: 06/12/2009 19:25:02 »
"Oh Yeah My Moto Q initially cost me $400.00 dollars..USA. Will cost me $125.00 to upgrade to the green model should they have any left when I go to upgrade!"

For that sort of money it ought to be at least gold plated!
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Offline geo driver

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« Reply #24 on: 06/12/2009 21:37:34 »
oh the wonders of wifi. but one of the problems is that with the email thing....work is always 1 beep away
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Offline geo driver

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« Reply #25 on: 06/12/2009 21:38:27 »
i was gonna buy a gooseberry. but it was black thought it was off
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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #26 on: 06/12/2009 22:13:50 »
I had a Blackberry for years. I came to hate it! People expected you to answer e-mails at all hours of the day and night, weekends included.

The classic statement was, "What! Didn't you get my e-mail? I sent it almost ten minutes ago."

My boss managed to drop his Blackberry in the toilet, on two different occasions! Mrs Geezer often threatened to take a hammer to mine because the first thing I would do when I got home was scan the latest barrage of e-mails to see if some new fiasco had surfaced at work.

Boy, was I happy to turn that sucker in when I retired!
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Offline LeeE

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« Reply #27 on: 07/12/2009 00:16:46 »
I had a Blackberry for years. I came to hate it! People expected you to answer e-mails at all hours of the day and night, weekends included.

The classic statement was, "What! Didn't you get my e-mail? I sent it almost ten minutes ago."

My boss managed to drop his Blackberry in the toilet, on two different occasions! Mrs Geezer often threatened to take a hammer to mine because the first thing I would do when I got home was scan the latest barrage of e-mails to see if some new fiasco had surfaced at work.

Boy, was I happy to turn that sucker in when I retired!

I think this highlights one of the problems regarding 'working' these days; that you are not just offering a service in return for your pay, but are treated as though you are in service and are actually owned by your employer.

There's a widely held notion, by many employers, that although you both agree to a contract whereby you work for 40-odd hours a week, if they screw up, or their management fails to anticipate other 'unforeseen' incidents, you'll sort out their problems for nothing.

I fail to see anything virtuous in allowing yourself to be exploited in this way.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #28 on: 07/12/2009 02:21:25 »
I had a Blackberry for years. I came to hate it! People expected you to answer e-mails at all hours of the day and night, weekends included.

The classic statement was, "What! Didn't you get my e-mail? I sent it almost ten minutes ago."

My boss managed to drop his Blackberry in the toilet, on two different occasions! Mrs Geezer often threatened to take a hammer to mine because the first thing I would do when I got home was scan the latest barrage of e-mails to see if some new fiasco had surfaced at work.

Boy, was I happy to turn that sucker in when I retired!

I think this highlights one of the problems regarding 'working' these days; that you are not just offering a service in return for your pay, but are treated as though you are in service and are actually owned by your employer.

There's a widely held notion, by many employers, that although you both agree to a contract whereby you work for 40-odd hours a week, if they screw up, or their management fails to anticipate other 'unforeseen' incidents, you'll sort out their problems for nothing.

I fail to see anything virtuous in allowing yourself to be exploited in this way.

I totally agree. For so many people, it's a horrible trap. I don't think the situation in Europe is quite as bad as it is in the US. Here, it is positively Dickensian. Most vacation policies are pathetic. Anyone who puts their family before their job risks termination (although it will be called a "layoff due to restructuring" or something equally dishonest).

We are our own worst enemies. We have to have all the accoutrements of "success". But these things are not inexpensive. So we end up working our butts off to pay for all of them. 
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Offline RD

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« Reply #29 on: 07/12/2009 03:03:02 »
The green model has no batteries, so you have to hand crank it  [;D]

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #30 on: 07/12/2009 04:24:48 »
Come to think of it, maybe we should pass a "green" law that says cell phones cannot have batteries and the user must generate the power to drive it in "real time". It would certainly cut down a lot of the inane chat that's clogging up the airwaves, some of which is not unlike this post!

Oooh! Oooh! Bags I "green law" before Al Gore trys to claim it.
« Last Edit: 07/12/2009 05:37:02 by Geezer »
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Offline peppercorn

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« Reply #31 on: 07/12/2009 17:04:12 »
Come to think of it, maybe we should pass a "green" law that says cell phones cannot have batteries and the user must generate the power to drive it in "real time". It would certainly cut down a lot of the inane chat that's clogging up the airwaves
Might do something to stem obesity also!  [;)]

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Offline geo driver

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« Reply #32 on: 08/12/2009 09:03:30 »
thinking of holidays.

the wonderful french if i work more then 35 hours a week its called over time and i am payed for it.
i get a minimum of 5 weeks off a year not including bank holidays
my pay however is poo, the french are rude
and i dont own a goosberry. my boss does however oh the fun to be had
board of ignorance

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Offline JulietWaugh

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #33 on: 05/01/2010 13:20:43 »
Yes It is true that mobile phone is getting more popular and you can do a lot of web related on it.But still It can not replace Computer because if you want more things on net then surely you want the help of laptop or computer.

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Offline LeeE

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #34 on: 05/01/2010 13:45:38 »
Yes It is true that mobile phone is getting more popular and you can do a lot of web related on it.But still It can not replace Computer because if you want more things on net then surely you want the help of laptop or computer.

What other issues are there, other than the ones I identified in the third response to this thread, that require a laptop or computer?  Digital mobile phones, as well as laptops are all computers and like I said, their convergence is inevitable.  The fact that Linux is increasingly finding its way on to digital mobile phones means that you are already using the same fundamental software on every platform, from super-computer clusters to mobile phones, not forgetting even more primitive devices like NAS.
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Offline harrifolfenced

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #35 on: 27/01/2011 07:15:28 »
Well it is even difficult to imagine how the varied applications and features of a computer will be shrinked into the small size of a mobile phone. But it is indeed very much feasible. You cannot predict science and technology, you never know what surprises can spring up at what time.
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Offline CliffordK

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #36 on: 01/02/2011 22:57:51 »
There are some mini-computers, for example the OQO

http://www.oqo.com/products/index.html

Although, apparently they have dropped the telephone interface.  The problem is that a laptop computer and a telephone have somewhat different requirements.  For example, a 1-2 hr battery life is acceptable for a laptop, but not acceptable for a cell phone.  Plus you have screen size issues and all. 

What I would envision is a "dockable phone".  For example, have a semi-mobile workstation that you could dock the phone into which would give you a full power CPU, screen, keyboard, etc, and perhaps secondary communication interface.  Have both primary (cell phone) and secondary storage available on the dock.

Then...  to go mobile, you just undock and fly.

I suppose one could almost do it now, although USB won't give you high enough performance for a primary drive, and Windows won't like it if you yank a main partition, even if it is just your documents folder. 

The problem is that you would end up with a "business system" which would be sold at a premium.  Especially if you needed both a work interface and a home interface (and perhaps a travel interface) to make it all work.

I don't know if they are still doing it, but on at least one Dell model (Latitude C840/Inspiron 8200), the "Home" and "Business" laptop models were essentially identical except for a metal plate covering the docking interface, and ROM locking out the Dock (and perhaps $1000).

I suppose an alternative would be to mirror your documents folder to your cell phone. 
The phone would then work as a backup, and you could have all your docs wherever you went.  Then all you would need would be a "guest-mode" feature if you were travelling and using a computer that wasn't your own.

Again though, the advantage would only be minimal over currently available remote desktop applications. 


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Offline briligg

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Can a cell phone replace a basic laptop computer?
« Reply #37 on: 09/02/2011 23:17:38 »
Karsten - here you go, the exact thing you are looking for:
http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/06/motorola-atrix-4g-hd-multimedia-dock-and-laptop-dock-hands-on/

To go on sale probably in a couple of months. If you just buy the phone, you are probably still looking at an investment of $500 to $700.
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