For a few years now….well…ever since I broke down and finally got myself a smart phone, I toyed with the idea of replacing a laptop as my main computer with just a phone. After all, it seemed so repetitive to me fumbling around with a laptop when I had a duplicate computer in my pocket going to waste. But, there were some issues that I had to solve before switching to a phone completely would be possible.
So, lets take a look at what I’ve been doing for the last month with my new phone, and how my laptop is now sitting on the side table going to waste.…
Of course, this is all well and good. But, there is no way you can realistically replace a laptop or desktop with a phone, right?
This question was pretty accurate until the last few years, as phone technology has reached a maturity point that they are often times on par if not surpassing computers themselves. Desktops have never been my thing. In 1997, I skipped right over towers and monitors and desks for a laptop. Granted, they were, in my mind, ridiculously expensive ($500 for a refurbished model, which the sell was probably ripping you off anyway and you had a $500 paper weight). And they couldn’t do much. But they could get online. Win 3.1 anyway?
Laptops have come a long way in most respects. I remember hooking my laptop up to a phone line to get on and spending an hour down download a 3 minute song on Napster. Fast forward to today and people simply download any song they want from Youtube. I think most people don’t even bother to download anymore, they just stream.
And that brings me to one major drawback I had in replacing my laptop with a phone. Internet. About a year ago, most phone services offered limited service for data. Once you hit 2 gigs a month, you were either cut off or throttled. That is, until I happened onto a youtube review about a phone service that was $40 / month for unlimited everything and that included data on the phone and the ability to wirelessly tether a computer/laptop to the phone as well. Speeds were not the 100megs I was getting with Spectrum, but that were good enough to watch streaming video, download audio and video and surf the web. Plus, I was no longer tethered to my home wifi, which meant I could say myself $30/month by switching. And switch I did. And I’ve been thrilled with the internet.
But, as I kept hooking up my laptop to my phone, I kept thinking, “Why is my phone just sitting there acting as a modem? It’s got all the same specs as my laptop. Why not ditch the laptop for just the phone?”
Screen Size, Software, Etc
Whenever I mention this to someone, inevitably, the first objection that is brought up is the screen size. Mine is 6 inch diagonally and I specifically found a phone that was wider than the 2.5 inch that I had at the time. And, to my surprise, that did the trick. No more eye strain. No more missing the laptop screen size. In fact, because I now have the phone hovering at eye level in landscape mode about fourteen inches from my face, it is roughly the equivalent to the screen size of my TV that I never use anymore. Granted, it is about a quarter of the size of my laptop screen sitting in my lap, but there are some tradeoffs.
I can say, in the last month of using my phone exclusively for all digital activities, I have not once had a problem with the screen size. I’ve even found I can read really tiny print without eye strain at all!
Another major hurddle I had to overcome was software limitations. Let’s face it, I’ve been using Windows machines since 1997, so I’ve gotten accustomed to the software available to that OS. But, as I searched the Google Play Store, I actually found some solutions that worked pretty well.
One was trying to replace Scrivener. This is not an easy task, let me tell you. All the writing apps available for Android have one or more limitations that leave them DOA from the start. But, I found if I combined two apps (SimpleNotes + Word for Android) this accomplished all my wordprocessing tasks flawlessly. I can use SimpleNotes for my digital research notebook, for writing blog posts (like this one), and for taking notes on books and lectures, etc. Word for Android comes in when I need to do large writing tasks, but more so when I want to publish those writings as an ebook on Kindle. Or, when I’m doing a project like writing my dissertation for my doctorate (that was just approved by the way). Word for Android works fine as long as the template I’m using already has a pre-configured TOC included. For some reason, I can’t add one via the app itself. But I can easily copy and paste one from a different file, which makes life easy.
Another software that I was struggling to replace was LOGOS. For years I used The Word Bible Software because it was free and quite useful. But, last year I hit a wall with its feature set and it was clear from the creator that they had no intention of going further in development. I made the jump to LOGOS via an ill fated excursion with Accordance (boy was that a mistake), and $700 later, I’m not invested in a program that I couldn’t take to Android. That’s not entirely true. There is a LOGOS mobile app for Android, but it is not nearly as developed as the Windows program is. But, I downloaded it and started putting it to the test. When I found problems, I found ways to work around them. So far, it does the job, even if it limps along in some areas. It is an improvement over TW5 and especially a visual improvement over MySword for Android.
The next problem I needed to solve was hard drive space. A few years before I was buying the $160 acer laptops at Walmart that had 32gb of hard drive space and, let me tell you, it was doable but a real pain. I didn’t want to go back to that. But, I found a quick solution on Amazon with a micro SD card 128 gb. With the 32gb internal and the card installed, I don’t miss a beat. I download what I want. I dump when I’m done. It works great and I never get to the point that I’m running out of room.
The final issue was connecting my phone to my already existing external drives. I have (had – it does on me last week) an 8tb hard drive, a 4tb hard drive, and a 2tb hard drive that I could not connect to my Tracphone. Just wouldn’t work. When I switched to my current unlimited carrier, that phone I got (the cheapest they had) had no OTG connectivity, so that was a bust. When I purchased my new phone (a Samsung Galaxy A21), an online search said it was OTG compatable, but with my previous track record, I was not too hopeful.
Sure enough, though, two of my three external drives connected without issue. The third was in a format that Android could not read. This required I let the phone reformat, which took a few seconds and then it worked fine. No extra software needed. No clunky workaround connections. I plug in my dongle to the phone and it just works.
Keyboard and Mouse? Battery Life?
A BIG issue was input. I’m certainly not going to try to write a novel or even a blog post using just my thumbs. In fact, I really hate texting or typing on the soft keyboard. But this was solved with a quick Amazon search that found me a Finite bluetooth keyboard and it works great. I typically do my writing sitting in my recliner and I keep the keyboard on my stomach and have the phone suspended by a phone/tablet arm at eye level, about 14 inches from my face. It just works. Well. In fact, I’m doing my last three re-writes and edits of my dissertation on my phone.
Another issue, and one that I had all the time with laptops, is battery life. Currently, I’m five days a week from a power source and so I rely on either a battery brick or a generator to power whatever device I’m using. The laptop would last about 5 hours on a single charge, maybe 6 if I was lucky. My previous Acer laptop was rated to 14 hours but only lasted about 7-10. That’s pretty good, but I always felt nervous about having the laptop out at my camp. What if it rained? What if something happened to it? The brick would charge the laptop twice and it took 3-4 hours to re-charge the brick. But worse still, the connector I had between the brick and the laptop was terrible.
Enter my new phone and all these problems just went away. The phone is in my pocket when I’m out working on the property and the stand easily breaks down and travels with me, so its set up in my tent next to my recliner. The keyboard, battery brick, cables, and connects all fit perfectly in a soft case I bought for an old netbook that has long since died. But, the real story is, the brick will keep my phone running 24/7 for 5 days at a time before the brick needs to be recharged. This means I go a week at the lake without a single use of the generator. If it takes 4 hours to charge the brick, that means I only need to run the gen that long once a week and then I have all the power I need.
Internet at the lake was also a problem. About half way across the lake (1.5 hour trip one way in my kayak) the internet would die on my previous phone. I would have little to no connectivity while at my property and certainly nothing stable or dependable. This new phone, though, changed all that – miraculously. Many spots on my property now provide a solid connection. This is especially true where my tent is currently located on the flat, and it appears to be true on the deck (where I’m heading in a few weeks once the workshop is finished). I can watch youtube videos without issue. I can download tv shows, movies, books, surf the web, and even post blog posts, all from paradise. This means no 45 minute paddle to get internet while sitting in my kayak in a rain or wind storm!
Unfortuantely, I don’t think there will be internet in my dugout up in the tree line. But, hey, I never dreamed I would have stable internet on the property at all, let alone on the deck, too. Maybe I will get it in the dug out as well. I haven’t tested it yet, so we’ll see.
All in, switching from a laptop to a phone as my main computer has worked out quite well. The phone cost me $264, the SD card I think was $20 or something like that. The brick I paid $150 several years ago and the external drives I don’t include in the price since I used those when on my laptop, too. So, all in, I’m still getting a great all around system for less than $400 (the price of my last laptop) and that stupid think is falling apart after less than a year since I purchased it. The screws won’t stay tight on the hinges, so the screen wobbles terribly. It smelled for the first six months that I had it and the battery power is nothing compared to the phone/brick combo (my brick, by the way, is a 50,000 MAH Crave). The whole system, the brick, keyboard, cables, phone, stand all stow way easily into a backpack or bag and travel quite well.
All in, it was a great option switching over when I did. I honestly think laptops have served their purpose. I for way don’t see me ever going back. If I were planning on staying at my house (hope to put it up for sale in a year or so) I would buy an 80″ tv for my wall and connect my phone to it. But, since I’m semi living out on the property and “roughing it” the phone as a monitor works just fine for my needs.
I would recommend ditching your regular computer and go all in on your phone as your new solo device. My next move, of course, will be to augment the phone display with a pair of easy to wear glasses that displays your screen in front of you at all times, no matter what you’re doing. Augmented reality anyone? I don’t want virtual reality, I just want to be a cyborg in this one.
Until my next project…
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Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos.
Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat.
As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull.
Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind.
The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
Buy the entire story The Light Aurora today and get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime! What is this foreign and hostile place these strangers find themselves in? What does it all mean? Will all of them survive?
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But, trust me when I say, reading this book will change your life forever.