Why not a surface-less Pro? Or a phone that's a Windows PC?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface General Discussion' started by berberry, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. berberry

    berberry New Member

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    In other words, why not a cellphone-sized, full-blown Windows 8 PC with, first of all, no screen at all? Just one port, for docking and charging, and a built-in wifi adapter/repeater for un-docked, portable access?

    When undocked, you'd access the PC using something like Splashtop for iOS or Android, the latest version of which supports Windows 8 gestures, from your iPad or other tablet. I use Splashtop to access my Vista and Win 7 systems from my iPad 4, and of course Windows supports Retina-quality resolutions so it looks great after a few tweaks. It's a bit klunky, but on the same wifi network it works quite well, and I am able to get real work done using this setup.

    A pocket-sized PC built specifically for this type of usage and running Windows 8 with its touch features would be so perfect!

    I don't see why we couldn't also have a Windows 8 phone with full PC specs, to which an iPad could connect and take control Splashtop-style, with even the ability to use the phone's screen as a second monitor.

    So where's the flaw in my thinking? Am I the only one who would find a PC like this useful?

    EDIT: Since this model of PC would be built to the purpose of remote, nearby access from tablets, it should also offer bluetooth.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  2. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    I believe your use case will come about very soon, with one notable exception. It would make no sense of Microsoft or the OEMs to make a device that relies on Apple or Google devices for its screen or using a third party app for UI access.

    I believe we will see the continue the merging of Windows Phone and RT, at some point the brick form factor of the phone for ultra mobile scenarios with docking options for Tablet or Desktop Mode or with Windows Blue’s ability for smaller screens the introduction of Windows Phablets that are 5 to 8” in size.
     
  3. Dewg

    Dewg New Member

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    What I can see is the way ASUS is engineering their padfones. One device that does everything. You cell phone, with 5" screen. You then dock that into a 10" tablet screen (with an extra battery) and get a tablet experience. Or you can dock the cell phone into a docking station to power a full monitor, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, etc. to become your full work PC.
     
  4. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator

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    They already have these and have had them for years. They are called various names, portable PCs, box PCs, stick PCs and they have even integrated them into keyboards that you just plug in and are the whole pc. Problem 1 it is hard to cram top shelf power into a tiny device so you usually end up with an underpowered pc. Problem 2 if you do make it powerful you have a hard time convincing people to buy a tiny box no matter the performance. If people are going to spend a lot of money they are going to want a nice looking well designed total PC. There are other reasons but you get the point. It is very niche still after years of availability.

    More likely to happen is cloud computing where we have tablet and phone devices that hook into cloud computers and only need minimal spec to run the device itself. Data speeds are already at a point to make this happen and it is happening on corporate levels with companies renting processing power from Amazon and Google. This way you device isn't also outdated two years down the road.
     
  5. gpstrucker

    gpstrucker New Member

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    I agree that they (MS) aren't going to build a device that requires an iPad to be used. I do see in the near future there will be small, portable, powerful, all in one devices. I don't see them not having a screen though, as they will be phones as well as computers. I agree that cloud based computing will (and already is) be playing an important role. The biggest issue right now is battery technology. More computing power means higher battery drain, and who wants an all in one portable device that needs to be charged every couple of hours?
     
  6. berberry

    berberry New Member

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    I never meant to propose a device that would require an iPad, only allow its use as an i/o device. The Splashtop app I mentioned runs on iOS and Android. The device could also be docked and made into a traditional PC.

    With past versions of Windows, Microsoft had little or no interest in what brand of i/o device a PC employed. MS makes tablets now, of course, but they once also made mice and soundcards; never did the Windows OS require the use of a Microsoft-branded piece of hardware, so why would that change? Win 8 is still in the OEM channel, isn't it? Seems to me that Acer, Dell or any other decent brand could produce a device like this; it wouldn't necessarily have to be MS.

    As for the device being under-powered, that's kinda why I used 'surface-less' in the thread title. I thought of the same problem when this idea occurred to me, but if it's built to the same specs as the Surface Pro then it should have power. It should also fit into a very small form, about the size of a phone. Thus, why not also a similar phone?

    This should be an even easier bet for Microsoft: a phone that becomes a full-blown Surface Pro-class PC when either docked or accessed by a tablet of a certain minimum size, say 8.5" or so. The docking hardware could even feature a traditional phone jack that could be used for phone calls during the docking session.

    The ability to control a Windows 8 PC from an iPad or Android tablet is already here. So long as the tablet and the PC are on the same local wifi loop, it not only works, it works very well. I'm just thinking that maybe MS should find a way to take advantage of that fact.
     
  7. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator

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    It is a value proposition thing. Good luck convincing people you are going to sell them a little black box that is a PC they can remote into. Again these devices already exist from servers to home theater PCs. The average mainstream user isn't going to bother. I understand what you are saying and in theory it is a nice idea but try convincing the masses. That is where the problem lies.

    Same goes for dockable devices like the padphone (see Motorola Atrix family for one example). So far similar devices have failed in every iteration and the padphone has not proved to be an exception yet. With new technology coming out on a yearly basis the argument can't be made for having a larger screen to dock into. Invariably the design changes and the companies would rather have you buy the latest and greatest screen with higher resolution, better battery or just a different design.

    It's not that things won't eventually change but it probably won't happen until Apple does it ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  8. jnjroach

    jnjroach Administrator Staff Member

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    The OEMs can create whatever they want, (that has been the issue of late) but again it doesn't make business sense for them to rely on a competitor's device for its UI interaction. Acer, Samsung or ASUS could create such a device and make it interface with their Android Tablets or Samsung could use their LCD TV business. Intel has already showed the concept PC (reference design called the Intel NUC) that was demo'd last summer running Ivy Bridge with the HD4000 GPU that is the size of the of the Samsung Series 7 dock. The two biggest issues that need to be overcome is that a Core system currently needs fans and eats through battery. Haswell's SoC will help this issue but we will need to see...
     

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