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Smartphones vs Personal Computers

Posted on: 09/13/2017 · Estimated reading time: 1 minutes to read

I think that expanding the capabilities of mobile phones until they became handheld computers was a mistake. Instead, I think we should have worked on miniaturizing general purpose PCs until we had handheld computers with touch screens that ran VOIP apps on our choice of operating system (Windows, Linux, *BSD, or OSX) and could be plugged into a docking station via USB for desktop work.

There’s no technological reason we can’t. And there’s no shortage of blog posts explaining how to use a smartphone as a desktop computer. However, they all suffer from some crippling limitations:

  • You must use a wireless mouse and keyboard.
  • You’re stuck using Android or iOS, both of which are locked down.
  • Unless you can root/jailbreak your device, you’re limited to software available from your device’s app store.
  • There isn’t a unified standard for connectivity to external devices such as monitors, keyboards, mice/trackballs, and external storage.
  • You cannot access external storage.

The Raspberry Pi solves the problems I listed above, but has its own drawbacks. While touchscreens for the Pi are available, they come in sizes that make the Pi unsuitable for use as a smartphone. Nor does the Pi connect to mobile phone networks by default; its wireless connectivity is based on the 802.11 wifi standards.