Will your smartphone become the brains of your home PC?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: September 6, 2011

We live in a world where everything is "pick up and go." It's fairly easy to take care of business on the move, via smartphones and tablets. But there are still those few remaining tasks that we will always need a larger, more powerful computer for – larger displays, peripherals, etc. That said, mobile manufacturers are nipping at the heels of the personal computer market, wanting a piece of that pie, too.

Apple's former CEO, Steve Jobs, harked the beginning of the post-PC era countless times over the past year. For the most part, I can agree. But his vision of the future has everybody's computing lives centered around the cloud, with devices that can be interchangeably used, without skipping a beat. This may be the case several years, maybe even decades, into the future. We have a long road ahead of us before people can afford cloud storage to that extent.

But are we entering the post-PC era? Sort of, but not really. The PC as we know it is about to dramatically change. Laptops are going to be upstaged by smaller, lighter ultrabooks, and mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have enough power for millions of average users to get by without ever owning another PC.

Through all of this rapid and unexpected transformation, the lines are becoming blurred. And the giant brains of engineers at corporations like Motorola, ASUS and various others scattered about the mobile market that you may not even know exist have begun noticing potential in hybrid devices that straddle the line between two drastically different technologies. The first evidence of this – though they completely missed the mark on marketing and price point – was Motorola's laptop dock for the Atrix 4G. Simply pop your Atrix into the dock and you have a fairly powerful machine in your possession. The same can be said of the pending Padfone from ASUS. This is a smartphone/tablet hybrid that harnesses the power and added functionality of a larger display, but doesn't sacrifice pocketability when you need to take work with you on the go.

This is the future of the mobile world. Korean company KT has realized this and has taken the concept to the next level with their Spider series, which was recently shown off at IFA. The Spider concept is centered around the phone, which surprisingly taunts all existing smartphones with its heavy spec sheet. It will ship sometime in November or December in Korea with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a 4.5-inch display (1280 by 800 pixel resolution), HDMI out, 1GB RAM and 16GB built-in storage with a microSD card slot. The idea is that you use your phone as the CPU of three different machine attachments like a laptop dock (where the phone is ingeniously used as the touchpad), a tablet and a portable gaming system. Each of the three devices have optimized interfaces ("laptop UI" or "pad UI" as stated by the guy in the demonstration video), and they only carry their own power supply – which also charges the phone while in use – and a display.

This whole "attachment" concept is still in its infancy and will require OEMs to work on fitting their phones with more built-in storage and RAM before people will agree to replacing their existing machines. But mobile technology is quickly gaining on the PC market; manufacturers can barely keep up. Who knows, maybe one day they will clash head-on, which could only result in a mobile computing superpower. Android is constantly becoming more desktop-like, iOS and OS X become more alike with each update and Microsoft's Windows 8 ... well, you get the picture.

This only seems like the natural progression that should take place. It consolidates the need for added data plans and tethering and could easily get the job done for the average consumer. What do you say, folks? Is using your phone as a "plug and play" CPU for all of your personal computing and gaming devices appealing at all? Or is this just another concept that will inevitably fail?