• Can mobile devices replace a computer?

    By Jon , February 1, 2017 - Leave a comment

    Microsoft Office Android Mobile ComputingNot too long ago I was reading this article over at Android Central. In it the team questions whether they could do away with desktop or laptop computers and just use their mobiles.

    The general feeling was that in part, for your general web browsing, purchases etc. “yes”. But generally speaking for ‘work’, the increased power and functionality a desktop or notebook brings is still advantageous.

    It got me thinking about my own usage of a smartphone and computer. Could mobile computing actually replace my desktop?

    For me the answer still firmly remains a no. My productivity for daily tasks at work would be too greatly hampered. However the beginnings are there. Where once you had to switch on a computer to check your email, make purchases or do a bit of online banking, now your phone will suffice.

    I could write all my emails and documents on my phone. Would it be practical? Most certainly not. It is very much possible though and you need not be tied to a desk all day.

    My partner for example uses nothing other than a tablet or her smartphone. The same goes for my mum, my brother and many friends of mine.

    For most a smartphone or a tablet is more than enough unless your job or interests require the additional benefits a standalone computer can bring.

    Mobile Computing Accessories

    Microsoft Display Dock Mobile Computing
    Microsoft Display Dock

    It’s really the comfort and convenience factor that makes interacting with a computer better. The large keyboard and mouse is a far smoother experience than a smaller smartphone screen. Yes you can connect keyboard, mice and even a phone to an HD display. This still remains an impractical proposition for most though and requires the need to often carry extra components.

    Devices like the Moto Z have modules like a projector which could potentially assist with the large screen issue. Whilst the likes of the HP Elite X3 have a Lap Dock. Then there’s Microsoft’s Display Dock for Lumia phones.

    Chromecast Version 2 Mobile Computing
    Chromecast Version 2

    Finally almost all Android and iOS phones can use Google Cast, which allows wirelessly mirroring the screen image to a larger display. Everything is getting better! Yet for those who have a lot of work these are not always practical everyday solutions. They are feasible though and workable when the time arises.

    Ultimately your work and interests will inform your usage. For many the form factor of the desktop computer poses many benefits.

    Clove customer Barry Jenner runs Cameron Fourcourt recently found himself in a bit of a predicament.  He shares his story.

    Yesterday I was at a meeting with a client and had to present a web application as well as a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet involved some modelling work to show outcomes. It wasn’t particularly complex but was an essential part of the presentation. I had taken my Windows Laptop and I have a Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor to wirelessly transmit to an HDMI TV screen that I had been told that I could use for the presentation.

    As you can imagine I felt confident that I was prepared. When I got the client to set up I found that the HDMI TV was screwed to the wall and that the HDMI ports were not accessible. To make up for this the client had a free HDMI cable with a male plug on the end.

    I didn’t have anything to connect the Display Adaptor to the cable as the display adaptor only has a male plug and no socket. I used to carry an adaptor for my laptop to HDMI in my bag. I’d left the adaptor at another client’s a while back though, thus the Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor. I really didn’t want to transfer the files for the presentation onto their computer display computer. So I was sort of at a loss of what to do next.

    I rummaged about in my bag and found my Microsoft Display Dock and cables. I was therefore able to connect my HP Elite X3 to the TV using the display dock. So using the phone with OneDrive was able to access all of my documents and open those that were needed in Mobile Excel, Word and even two PDF’s as well as the web presentation.

    I used the screen of the phone as the track pad and have a small Bluetooth keyboard on which I was easily able to type. The only difficulty I had was that I ended up perched on the end of the table rather than my intended position sitting back from the TV, this was a limitation of the available length of the cables, something that of course would have not been an issue had I been able to use the wireless display adaptor.

    The presentation went without a hitch and of course the changes that we made to the documents were instantly saved to my OneDrive.

    My client was impressed that the phone had provided the display and indeed the last 15 minutes of the meeting were filled with discussions of how far a mobile phone could possibly go towards fulfilling the computing needs of the mobile worker.

    Whilst I would have ideally liked to have used my laptop for the presentation, I didn’t find any issues with using the phone other than those presented by the short cables, but that was more about the way that their TV was attached to the wall rather than the available technology as the Wireless Display Adaptor would of course work with the phone just as well as it would a laptop. I thought that it performed so well that I might chose to use the phone for such presentations in the future.

    To me this is a perfect example of how mobile computing works more impressively than many give credit for.

    Do you still use a laptop or desktop? Or is everything you do mobile first?

    Can Mobile Computing replace the desktop banner


    Constantly challenging opinions and looking for new opportunities, Jon develops the product ranges and business activities and very much strives to maintaining growth and taking Clove in to the future. Never knowing when to stop, he spends a lot of time coming up with ideas. When he does relax, however, he can be found out in the forest walking his Dog, down the pub or enjoying food at local restaurants.


  • I can use my Sony Xperia Z4 LTE tablet/keyboard combination along with SoftMaker Office HD to edit Word & Excel documentations with no major problems; I’m also buying a “SuperBook” keyboard/screen accessory for use with a mobile…

  • I’ve been trying something similar with an iPad pro – hoping that I could finally dispense with a bulky laptop when travelling. It’s a nightmare – mainly because of the way apple silos documents against specific applications, and the pain around shuffling files readily in and out of the apple eco-system.

    Other eye openers –

    – as a manager, I was really hoping to be able to quickly and easily annotate any document (draw ‘anywhere’), as well as replacing my livescribe notebook for general note taking. You can’t, the pen is very much an after thought, and the drawing tools vary from app to app – so in one app I may be able to draw rectangles automatically but in another just freehand and in another not at all. Pencil support is an after thought, and should be integrated at an OS level rather than an app level (and poorly designed – no pen dock, stupid charger adapter)

    – as a developer I use the web browser’s debuggers – there’s no practical way to do this with just an iPad despite the fact the rest of the development environment (using cloud9) works really well. So I need to write my own app to interface to chrome’s debugger port, so very painful.

    I wish now that I’d spent my company’s money on an equivalent screen-sized android tablet with decent stylus (is there one?), or perhaps a surface book.

  • I do use my mobiles (with big screen) and tablets for many things… but I can’t stop but dreaming of a device like the ones in Westworld (all touch, hardly any frame, and unfolds to double the size)

  • I’ve had a desktop PC since about August 1994. It’s in a fixed position in my home office and it’s impossible for me to think that I’d ever want to change that.

    However, I recently had a problem in that my Windows password suddenly stopped working, so I was locked out of my PC. It took two days to sort out, and in that time I really have liked to have been able to connect my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to my keyboard and monitor. I love my 5.7″ mobile phone screen but it’s awkward when you have a lot of typing and browsing to do.

  • 2 things that may never go away regardless of the efforts to render them obsolete: laptops and physical keyboard phones. They will remain niche at worst.
    Personally, I also share your sentiment that notebooks do have a place when you want to be most productive at work. The tabs and slabs will be functional and beneficial as short term solutions though but not likely as replacements.

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