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The laptop is dead

Mike Elgan | April 3, 2017
Here's my open-and-shut case on why the venerable laptop is on its way out

The ban may have been implemented in response to two recent laptop bomb explosions — one blowing a hole in an airplane flying from from Somalia to Djibouti and the other wounding six people in a Somali airport. These events coincided with intelligence chatter finding increasing sophistication by Al Qaida in building laptop bombs.

One congressman said at a recent security conference that more countries would be joining the ban.

There are several assumptions we can make about the ban.

First, like so many security measures, the ban may spread globally and eventually include all flights. For the next few years, it may become impossible to use a laptop on a commercial flight.

Second, such a ban will affect laptop sales. Many travelers won't want to place an expensive laptop in checked luggage for fear of loss or theft. The general fear, uncertainty and doubt around laptops on airplanes is enough to change consumer behavior. And the frequent flier is the laptop industry's best customer base.

Third, the ban will be an incentive to develop alternatives so passengers can travel without laptops.

Wait, what alternatives?


The docking smartphone alternative

Samsung announced this week its upcoming Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, and the public is impressed. But even more impressive is a Galaxy S8 peripheral called the DeX Station.

The DeX is a smartphone dock into which you plug a keyboard, mouse and monitor. DeX enables you to use your Galaxy S8 as a desktop PC. (Instead of a monitor, you can also plug in a TV or projector.) The dock outputs at a 4K resolution, and it supports Ethernet for faster connections.

I expect some of you business users to buy two — one permanently installed in your office and another in your home office. That would enable you to use your smartphone full time as your only device, even as you benefit from the giant screen, full-size keyboard goodness of a desktop PC everywhere you work.

You can take it with you on trips, and use it in hotel rooms to plug into the room's big TV.

Years ago, the use of a phone as a desktop PC wasn't practical. But now, thanks to the cloud and the emergence of strong, even enterprise-capable apps for Android phones, a smartphone docking setup makes perfect sense.

The DeX Station costs $149.99 and ships in late April, according to Samsung.

At that price, you still can get a bigger screen and better keyboard than what you get on a laptop, and at a fraction of the price — even if you have to go out and buy a monitor, keyboard and mouse.


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