Attempts to make your smartphone work like a desktop PC or laptop take time to market. Motorola Atrix tried him for years, and then came ambitious ideas, which Canonical had to leave – Microsoft with its Lumia 950 / XL and Samsung finally, that DEX raises a really promising alternative.
These projects are not the only ones in search of convergence and that a mobile is much more than a mobile. In fact in recent months we have seen launches such as the HP Lap Dock or the birth of initiatives like Superbook or Mirabook that connect the smartphone to a “dumb laptop” to give us that combination of mobility and productivity that many are looking for.
“Dumb” laptops that become “smart”
The Miraxess French startup that launched the Mirabook in Indiegogo basically provides an alternative to known Superbook, which was successfully launched in early 2016 and is already starting to send the first prototypes to users.
The product is eye-catching, and although it looks like a normal laptop it is actually just the “casing” of the notebook with a 13.3-inch screen and 1080p resolution, plus a keyboard and a touchpad. That casing also houses a battery that according to its creators allows to work with him 10 hours, which must be added that can provide our smartphone.
In the interior, however, we found no components such as the processor or the memory of a conventional notebook: the raw power is supplied by the smartphone, because in fact without it the Mirabook and Superbook are nothing but empty shells they cannot do anything.
An Android Adapted to the Portable Desktop
When connecting the mobile to these “silly laptops” (Intel and its NexDock also follow that line) through connectors such as USB-C starts a session where the work experience is that of an Android laptop, or rather With an Android “adapted”.
In that interface we have resizable windows that we can move, a task manager similar to the desktop and an experience that as we had seen in DeX is just about bringing Android to a desktop or laptop.
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The Mirabook concept is virtually in line with that of Superbook, and the first units are expected to hit the market in December 2017. The starting price is $199 (plus shipping) in the IndieGogo collective financing campaign, A major downgrade from the $299 it will cost when it finally launches massively.
Advantages and disadvantages evident
These devices that convert the mobile phone into a laptop to use are certainly curious for several reasons: when you update your smartphone that “silly laptop” will also benefit from improvements in process power or memory for example: you will not have to buy “a new Laptop”, because both Mirabook and Superbook are nourished by the features of your smartphone.
The advantage of this advantage is that of the cost: although the power of these devices can provide the smartphones we connect (more limited than most conventional notebooks), it is also true that the absence of components such as the processor Or the memory significantly lowers the final price against laptops of that format.
Among the disadvantages, the clearer is the user experience that Android and its “desktop modes” can really offer to the holder of these products.
In Mirabook you can use modes like DeX (if you have a Galaxy S8), but also others like Remix Singularity, Microsoft Continuum (with mobiles like the Lumia 950 / XL) or alternatives like Leena OS, Oxi OS or Maru OS. They even talk about compatibility with Ubuntu Mobile phones if you have a smartphone based on that platform.
Here is probably interesting the proposal of Sentio, the company responsible for the Superbook, which focuses mainly on Android devices for which Andromium (which takes time in the market), a software layer in charge of transforming that mobile experience into a portable desktop. While in Mirabook we take advantage of other platforms, in the Superbook have a tailor made for this use case.
They all have their charm, but in many cases users are likely to see their productivity hampered by alternatives such as Windows or OSX / macOS and even Linux, which have been evolving years to deliver desktop experiences and laptops as polished as possible.
The options, as always, are good, and it is clear that this type of devices have generated interest. Now it remains to be seen if Mirabook or Superbook effectively end up convincing a large mass of users. And if they do, we will see if Google or Apple respond with similar products, as has already done HP with Lap Dock for their Elite x3.