I like PCs. I spend most of my days writing about them. (Or at least, something related to them). But I also like light, portable devices and these twin interests led me to purchase a Diamond Mako once upon a time.
Back in the era of the personal digital assistant (PDA), you only had two real choices for mobile computing: a big notebook or an even bigger laptop. If you needed a device that doubled as a blunt trauma weapon (or means to improve your stamina while tromping to and from classes), you were living in the right era.
Meanwhile, PDAs served as rudimentary proto-smartphones, and they weren’t cheap. They didn’t do much either—not compared to today’s iPhones and Android devices. But that Mako. It had a large screen (remember, this was the early 2000s), a compact keyboard (perhaps the smallest 65 percent board in existence), and a touch screen. More importantly, you could actually edit documents and spreadsheets on it, in addition to more basic PDA functions. I loved that thing and used it until I finally saved enough for an ultra lightweight laptop (a Dell Latitude X200, if you’re curious).
Are you in the market for a lightweight laptop? If so, you should check out our roundup of the best 2-in-1 laptops available right now.
Since then, I haven’t really looked back. I actually sold the Mako, too, thinking that it deserved to live out the remainder of its life in service rather than moldering in my desk drawer.
But the trend of folding smartphones has stirred up that dormant part of my brain, and I don’t think it’s going to quiet down until I finally get some extended time with one. Whether that’s one of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold models or the rumored Google Pixel Fold, I’m wondering how well I could use one as a PC substitute.
This part of my brain is active in spite of my own experience. I know better than most people that a phone is not a PC. More specifically, I know that you can’t transform a phone into a substitute for a desktop PC—software like DeX isn’t quite the same. I’ve also spent hours trying to determine if I could easily force mobile devices into acting like a full computer: Perhaps I could find a way to root a tablet and put Windows for Arm processors onto it? Maybe I’d overlooked a modern phone or tablet running an x86 processor? Could it be possible to use Linux or ChromeOS? (The answer to all those questions: No).
But I love the idea of being able to pull out a single device from a jacket pocket, flipping it open to a larger screen, pulling an ultra compact keyboard from my bag, and comfortably diving into writing an article on the fly, as well as tweaking the accompanying images. Then after I’m done, folding it back up and using it like a regular phone—a juiced up, modern take on the experience I had on my Mako. I can kind of do that now on my current smartphone, but the screen is small and my eyes aren’t what they used to be.
Will the reality be seamless and easy? Probably not. But I’m jazzed to try. Maybe chalk it up to nostalgia, but the idea of tempering expectations because of device limitations doesn’t bother me. When I held that fancy PDA in my hands twenty years ago, I only saw possibility. I see that again now.
When I finally get to run this experiment, I’ll let you know how it goes.