One of my hobbies is browsing through KickStarter and Indiegogo to see what the brilliant minds of tomorrow are coming up with today. Or maybe that’s the other way around. Anyway. every now and then something grabs my attention for some reason. Of course, that’s the point. But this item, the Superbook is one of those items that someone is making that I’ve been wanting for some time. Or at least, I think I’ve been wanting it, but we’ll delve into that later.
Just what is it?
The Superbook is a laptop shell that turns your phone into a computer. Now, if you think this is a familiar tale, you’re right. Some companies have been pursuing just such a device for some time now. Some OEMs have built an entire phone just for this purpose *cough**cough*Microsoft*cough*. Others have already tried and failed to get this concept right. But the Andromium team, the team behind the project, are doing a few things right, and that’s why I wanted to share this with you.
In the past there have been really big obstacles to actually using your smartphone as a computer. I’m going to pick on Continuum here, sorry Windows 10 Mobile fans, because it is the most recent iteration of this concept. Don’t worry, we have plenty of vitriol to spread onto Motorola as well. But where Continuum fails is in the requirement for a separate monitor, mouse and keyboard, along with the $100 Continuum dock in order to work.
So it works, but…
Such a hardware commitment is a big ask for most folks. If someone wants a desk with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard on it, they want a computer on it too. Sure, there is a computer there when you have your phone plugged in, but otherwise it’s a bit of a waste of space. The Superbook combines the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and the continuum dock itself into one laptop-like interface. So, not only do you not have to supply your own dock, you don’t need the peripherals with it.
Another company tried this once upon a time. I won’t bore you with details of the Motorola Atrix saga, which was fraught with problems. But the moral of the story is, the dock at the time was very costly. The Superbook avoids that problem entirely, undercutting not only the Atrix Dock, but also the Continuum dock at $99. Overall, this may be the dream product we’ve been waiting for.
Netflix in da house?
Andromium also solves Continuum’s “app gap”, for lack of a better term. Maybe I’m just a simple man, but whenever I try out a device that’s new and different, Netflix is inevitably the first thing I try with it. This means Android tablets, webOS tablets with ACL, Windows Phone back in the day, Google Cardboard, the list goes on. So when I plugged my Lumia 950 into the Continuum dock and tried to fire up Netflix. Wah wah, epic fail. Andromium presumably won’t have that issue, though to be perfectly honest I haven’t seen Netflix running on a Superbook with my own eyes yet.
Not so fast
Of course, it’s not all wine and roses. Personally, I’m very much on the fence with this product. This isn’t really Andromium’s fault, so much as it’s Android’s fault. At the end of the day, I will still pretty much need a full laptop to do my job. That may not be the case for you, but for me, editing photos and video alone disqualify my phone as a CPU. Sure, this is just my use-case, but if I’m toting a laptop every day, I don’t need my phone to be a laptop too. I suspect this may be the case for some.
Additionally, these days, 1080p is pretty much going to be the minimum requirement for any kind of mobile device, and especially a laptop. Making that an up charge is less than desirable. In this editor’s humble opinion, that is almost a deal breaker.
Fence riders anonymous
I’m still not sure if I’m going to jump on this train. On the one hand, I tote a full laptop back and forth from work every day, and my phone will not do what I need to do for work, so there’s that. However, on the other hand, this is really close to the utopia that many of us are seeking. The combination of mobile and desktop computing is so tempting, it’s actually alluring. Being for Android only is also kind of a personal bummer since I have been known to carry an iPhone from time to time. I’m going to go ahead and blame Apple for that one though. But Kickstarter is not only about the products, it’s about the ideas.
That being said, if this were for my wife, who really only needs word processing and web browsing, and consequently wouldn’t have to bring her bulky laptop home every day, this is really tempting. Plus, then I can borrow it. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is on for another two days, so if you want to take a chance on a very intriguing piece of tech, here’s the link.
The unicorn is almost here folks. We’re getting closer and closer every day. And the Superbook is the closest yet.