I want a phone that is a computer
August 3, 2011 5:35 AM   Subscribe

I want an Android phone that I can use like a computer - keyboard, monitor, wifi. Does one exist? What is it?

So, I'm looking for a new phone. I want it to basically be a useful computer in phone form. Here's the features I'm looking for:

* Android
* Root
* Unlocked gsm (I use tmobil pay-as-you-go)
* Wifi
* HDMI output
* USB Host
* SD card slot (the bigger the better)
* As much ram and cpu speed as you can cram onto there

I want to have it in my pocket for phone-like things, and for pda-like things, but I want that, if I take it home, I can bust out my ergonomic keyboard and my monitor and use it like a computer.

My ergonomic keyboard is something I already own. It's a regular usb keyboard, not a "docking station". I want to keep using it.

I also want to sometimes plug an external usb nic into it so that I can plug it into ethernet.

I doubt I'll ever pay for 3G, since the plans are so unbelievably horrible. So that's not necessary.

Camera would be nice, but I could do without it if it's necessary to get the other things. Same with GPS.

What do we know? Does such a device exist? In phone form factor and not tablet form factor?

Also I'd like to install an ubuntu chroot on the phone, doing something like this guide http://androlinux.com/android-ubuntu-development/how-to-install-ubuntu-on-android/ (warning: view with noscript. Annoying pop-in overlay ads. I removed them with firebug)
posted by Galaxor Nebulon to Technology (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The shiny new Galaxy S II supports USB host mode natively, has video-out, and people are reporting success in getting some USB keyboards and mice to work with it. I will offer the caveat I haven't personally tried and it looks hit and miss.

It's a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and has a dedicated video processor, so it would appear to fit the bill for grunt.
posted by rodgerd at 5:57 AM on August 3, 2011

You may want to ask this question on XDA's forums, but I would imagine only the top-level phones (at this point I can only think of the Galaxy S II mentioned above and the HTC EVO 3D) would support this.

BTW, when you say "SD card slot (the bigger the better)" are you talking about capacity or form-factor? If it's the former, I believe all Android phones are required to be able to support up to 32GB, but it's possible they may support larger. If it's the latter, I can't think of any phones that support anything other than microSD.

It's very important to read up on the various types and manufacturers of microSD cards, though. Theoretically the higher classes (6, 8, and 10) are supposed to be faster, but the manufacturer/build quality seems to be a much larger factor in real-world performance on a lot of Android devices. For instance, the current front-runner at the moment is Sandisk Class 4 cards, with 8GB & 16GB leading the way. Again, look for relevant threads on XDA.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:27 AM on August 3, 2011

The Motorola Atrix is advertised to be exactly what you want. (I have the phone, but not the laptop-dock accessory, and i've been very happy with it, though i can't speak for the laptop experience.)
posted by Kololo at 6:45 AM on August 3, 2011

2nd Atrix, since it is exactly what you want. It just got the Gingerbread update as well. Be warned, the Laptop Dock part is pretty expensive.
posted by NotSoSimple at 11:25 AM on August 3, 2011

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