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Pocketable PCs

It's the right idea, provided it works as a tablet
Dell Wyse Cloud Connect
Dell Wyse Cloud Connect

Two or three products have crossed my desk of late and they're all headed in a direction I think makes a lot of sense, both from a sustainability and a disaster preparedness point of view (not to mention that these things could make mobile computing a lot easier). I'll talk about the one that's available now in this entry, plus cover the general concept. We'll tackle the other two (plus one outlier) on later days.

The most productized version of this concept is out from Dell. It's a small computer tucked into what looks more or less like a large USB fob. In fact, the Dell Wyse Cloud Connect is functionally reminiscent of a bootable USB drive, but the difference is that the CPU and the video logic and so on are also tucked into the fob. And thus, rather than a USB port, it's got a video port (in the case of the Dell, it's an MHL port, about which more in a moment, the upshot is that it'll plug into an HDMI port on a monitor or television). The Dell pocketable has a USB port in case you want to plug in a peripheral, plus bluetooth, so you could pick up your keyboard and mouse that way. In other words, if you've got a television and a bluetooth keyboard, you've got a computer.

What kind of computer? Well, an Android computer. In other words, it's a smartphone that they forgot to put the screen on. In my view, this is potentially a great thing. You can download apps for it from the Google Play store--and if you confine your downloads to well-known apps loaded exclusively from that source then you can be pretty sure that you won't wind up with any malware or viruses on this device (or any Android device for that matter). Additionally, if you want to remotely access some other PC of yours, there's a built-in client for that.

At $129 bucks, it has the virtue of being affordable enough that you could have backups on hand. Depending on where and how you stored your documents, you could lose or destroy one of these fobs without any risk of data loss.

On the flip side--and here is where things get complicated--you can buy a Chromebook these days for $200 bucks and get the whole notebook enchilada (screen, keyboard, computer) in one dose and not actually be paying all that much more for it. And you'd definitely be getting more computer power and you can still run whatever you like from Google Play. Additionally, you can load Linux on it and then you're way past smartphone capabilities.

The idea of having separate, small, affordable components that you could swap out as needed is altogether appealing, though. That's what I like about this, and that's also what draws me to the BeagleBone Black card, which you could essentially think of as the guts of a computer like this. It's the computer without the case, but it's got an HDMI port, USB for the keyboard and mouse, and it runs Linux (or, for that matter, Android). So if you imagine a suitable casing for the BeagleBone, you could have essentially the same thing, though minus the Bluetooth, for roughly half the price.

There are a couple other plays on this -- and they're interesting because they offer full-fledged PC-style computing--in the works at IndieGoGo. I'll look at those shortly.

Robert Richardson is the principle nomad here at the Mode.
0 Comment(s) to the "Pocketable PCs"
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The Tango pocketable PC
Two additional pocketable PC type concepts I wanted to menti...
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 21:33
Dell Wyse Cloud Connect
Two or three products have crossed my desk of late and they'...
Sunday, February 2, 2014 - 11:30
If you've been thinking to yourself, watching the news of la...
Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 21:35
Well, it's hard not to be intrigued by this. It's a 3D print...
Friday, January 10, 2014 - 22:46

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