Acer's Extend Smart Phone / Laptop Hybrid mixes Form and Function


Take a look at your Smart Phone for a moment. Chances are that the hardware specifications may closely match the specifications of the average consumer laptop. With many newer phones coming with 2 or more gigabytes of RAM and powerful Quad Core processors that can scream past the 2.1 GHZ mark, it makes sense to wonder why you are still carrying around a laptop AND a smart phone with you at all times.

The developers as Acer seem to have been asking themselves the same question and came up with a laptop-like accessory that is powered completely by your mobile phone. The Acer Extend unit connects to most Android powered phones over a MHL port for display/USB connectivity as well as the ability to charge the phone with its built-in 6,000 mAh battery. The dock exposes a full-sized QWERTY Keyboard, Touchpad and at least one full-sized USB port. The Keyboard also contains several useful shortcut keys to help you navigate.

Screenshot from 2013-09-03 16:09:03

While this is not the first hybrid unit we have seen, it is the only one that seems to be universal as long as the target device supports the MHL standard. This also means that Audio is sent out over the docks speakers rather than the phone. Unfortunately this means Nexus 4 users are out of luck as it is not compatible with Slim Ports.

Unlike the Motorola Atrix, which attempted to add its own distinct user interface when docked, this laptop dock simply switches the phone’s display resolution to match that of a tablet. Because of this, it is safe to assume that this should work for any phone running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 or higher as it supports both the higher resolution natively. This allows it to run all native Android games. Your phone can also be used while docked as a controller for games that require a tilt controller.

Based on the video on the initial Engadget story, the device is currently a proof of concept however they are confident that this may eventually make it to market in 2014. Maybe it may be time to start thinking about your phone as a mobile computer.