The Superbook transforms your Android smartphone into a bona fide laptop

By Shawn Knight · 10 replies
Aug 1, 2016
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  1. Motorola made waves at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show with its Atrix smartphone. Dubbed the world’s most powerful phone at the time with a dual-core 1GHz processor, what really set the device apart from the competition was its ability to double as a full-blown computer through the use of a proprietary dock.

    The concept, however, never really took off, nor did Asus’ attempt to turn your smartphone into a tablet with its Padfone line. It’s a bit puzzling when you consider just how integral smartphones have become to our daily lives. Then again, their failure is not entirely surprising given their proprietary nature and when they launched.

    Would such a concept fly today if it weren’t proprietary? That’s the question that one Kickstarter campaign aims to answer and judging from the money it has attracted thus far, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

    The Superbook is more or less a laptop without the guts; it supplies the keyboard, trackpad and display and has an integrated battery. Just connect your Android phone to the barebones system via USB cable to use it like a laptop. The companion Andromium app simulates a familiar desktop operating system and is said to offer a mouse cursor, desktop shortcuts, easy file management and desktop-class browsing.

    The hardware and app work with all modern Android devices which means, each time you get a new phone, it will feel as though you’ve also purchased a new laptop.

    The base Superbook features an 11.6-inch LCD display at 768p although for $30 more, you can upgrade to a 1080p display. The laptop shell also features a USB Type-C port, QWERTY keyboard, Android-specific navigation keys, a multi-touch trackpad and an integrated battery that’s good for around eight hours of use – all in a package that weighs about two pounds.

    As for compatibility, you’ll need a phone running Android 5.0 or newer with at least a dual core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, a USB Type-C or Micro-B port and around 100MB of free space.

    With more than two weeks remaining, the campaign has already raised over $1.3 million from 8,300 backers. A pledge of at least $99 will guarantee you’ll be among the first to own a Superbook when they ship early next year.

    Previous attempts failed because they were both too early and proprietary. The Superbook, however, is arriving at the perfect time and is compatible with a wide variety of devices. Heck, you can even use it with Windows devices and Macs for a dual-screen setup.

    If ever this concept was to succeed, now is the time and the Superbook is the device.

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  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,319   +1,407

    While I really like this idea, android, and specifically apps themselves, have HORRIBLE keyboard integration.
  3. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,040   +678

    People are actually interested in carrying around a laptop that only becomes a laptop when you connect your phone to it?

  4. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +18

    I don't think I will ever want this, however I felt the same way about tablets until the surface pro made me want one. Anyway, I am more likely to get this, just because it's not proprietary. Proprietary not only makes you locked in to one manufacturer, but it also typically means you will be obsolete quickly. Non-proprietary is better for the consumer. I like to represent consumers with my money, since I obviously am one.
  5. johnehoffman

    johnehoffman TS Enthusiast Posts: 27   +35

    I am having trouble of thinking why someone would want to use this rather than an inexpensive standard laptop, which almost certainly would have significantly more power than a phone, and would likely also cost less.
  6. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 576   +185

    Wow no mention of the palm folio, was so physced for that little bugger, then everyone at Palm decided to just stop working apparently. This concept seems better in some areas, price being a big one, but I would rather the phone have a better way if being secured to the laptop vs just hanging off it by a cable.
  7. Spence1115

    Spence1115 TS Enthusiast Posts: 49   +39

    I'd like a tablet version of this with a better dock, like the aforementioned PadFone but with generic phone support, for when I'm at home and want to carry on with the same stuff but not on my phone.
  8. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 390   +666

    Probably because most people have long figured out that once you strip away the marketing gimmicks, and theoretical capabilities based on nothing more than CPU power, etc, there's a whole lot more to the actual usability and feel of a proper PC running full blown Windows applications than simply plugging a keyboard into Android and still being stuck with cut down "apps". Eg, simple things like copying a file from a USB stick take far longer in ES File Explorer than Windows Explorer. Mobile Office software takes several times longer to do the simplest things like formatting a table or text box and is so dumbed down for 5-8" tablet screens it hides almost everything expecting you to constantly "swipe" it into view.

    Quite honestly, 11" Windows 7 Atom Netbooks were the peak sweet spot for me. Ultra portable, +8-10hr battery life and they actually ran proper office software and hundreds of lightweight / older Windows games. Tablets are popular for trivial stuff like EBooks or watching your funny cat video collection, but for productive stuff if you have to consciously remember to carry this "fake laptop" + cable + optional mouse around (unlike a "no brainer" pocket sized phone), you probably won't think anything of the "effort" of just using a proper 11-13" laptop / netbook in a fairly lightweight carry case. After all, the heaviest & bulkiest things in any notebook isn't having it's own CPU / SODIMM's, it's the battery, keyboard & screen which are just as weighty in this (0.9-1.2kg depending on battery size) as a regular 1kg netbook.
    Teko03 likes this.
  9. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    Maybe it's just me, but the last thing I want to do is clutter up my phone with MORE apps and assorted items to hog up what internal storage space I have left... Plus, I have this horrible habit of actually using my phone to *gasp* MAKE CALLS, so I'm not so sure this little gadget would fit well with my usage patterns. I've got my little 13" 2-in-1 laptop for the big stuff, and my phone for the rest. The unified file structure you get with using one device for everything is the only part of the Superbook that appeals to me.

    Have to wonder how many people jump in with an "oooh, shiny!" attitude, without really considering the ramifications of how it will work in their real world. I've got far too many friends who love to be early adopters, only to end up with closets full of unused (and very expensive) junk that just wasn't as magical as they thought it would be. And they just don't seem to learn it's a repeating pattern.
  10. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 860   +874

    I look at it more of as a replacement for the awesome tablets asus used to make. Remember the TF301 with it's keyboard, that had a second battery and a touchpad? I twas great, but ahead of it's time software wise.

    Today, nobody seems interested in making tablets like that. they are either cheap junk or lack the features that made those machines great (the connector for the keyboard with a built in second battery). Combined with the ever shrinking difference in power between a phone and tablet these days, and I can see a market for a piece of hardware that would transform a phone into a semi-PC sounds quite nice.

    Of course, the execution will be the tricky part. But I can see a market for this stuff.
  11. Skyyy

    Skyyy TS Rookie Posts: 21   +7

    This would be cool for traveling. Also, a larger version would be good for public places. You can carry around your own desktop that's already set up, with immediate access to your files.

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