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Inside HP's plan to turn smartphones into wire-free laptops

Agam Shah | Feb. 22, 2016
HP returns to the smartphone market with the Elite X3, and has a three-year plan for success.

But many large desktop applications won't move to cloud, and conventional PCs will be needed for those programs, Park acknowledged. A Web-based delivery model for larger applications requires bandwidth, which remains a problem, Park said.

Park would not talk about the third phase, but hinted at something that could involve moving to hands-free computing, perhaps with technology revolving around wearables and the Internet of Things. He gave the example of a firefighter, wearing a suit full of sensors feeding environmental and other relevant data to assist in rescue operations. That particular scenario may take a long time to become reality, but Park said computing is headed in that direction.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether HP comes out with a consumer smartphone, though Park didn't dismiss the idea. HP has been cutting many low-margin tablets and PCs from its line-up in order to improve profitability.

The Elite X3 has 4GB of LPDDR4, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a microSD slot for up to 2TB of storage. Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 technology lends ruggedness to the screen. It has an eight-megapixel camera, and "dual biometrics" that include iris detection and a fingerprint reader. It has dual SIMs and a large battery that could provide a full day and perhaps more of run time. HP didn't provide exact battery life.

The company is also selling add-ons like a desk dock that has USB-C, USB-A and Ethernet ports. The dock can be used to charge the phone or connect handsets to wired networks, DisplayPort monitors or external peripherals like storage drives.

Another interesting accessory is a "Mobile Extender" that provides a full-fledged laptop experience when linked up wirelessly to the smartphone. The Mobile Extender has the looks of a laptop with a keyboard and 12.5-inch display, and can also link up with the Elite X3 through a USB Type-C cable. The Mobile Extender has no storage or memory of its own and all the computing power is drawn from the Elite X3. 

HP did not provide a specific release date or pricing for the Elite X3.


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