Traditional PC makers haven’t had the easiest time in the past few years. Smartphone and tablet sales are booming, while PC sales are mostly flat, and sometimes declining. To combat this trend came Windows 8 and a sea of devices that attempt to incorporate tablets and phones. But much the way Motorola failed to design a suitable PC with the Atrix and its laptop dock a couple years back, PC vendors have struggled to create marketable tablets and phones. Luckily, the PCs fortunes appear to be shining a bit brighter these days. A new round of Windows 8 devices have improved dramatically when compared with those released back in late 2012, and several announcements made at CES 2014 revealed that the bonds between mobile and PCs are stronger than ever before.
The Lenovo Horizon 2 table top PC is a good example. It can be paired with Android phones or tablets, allowing you to share content from your phone to the PC via an Android app called AuraU, which is being developed by Lenovo. In a matter of moments, we were able to use AuraU to send photos from the phone to the Horizon 2 simply by opening the app and setting it down on the Horizon 2’s display with it in table top mode. The Horizon 2 doesn’t just stop at photos, either. With the AuraU app, you can share videos and other content with Lenovo’s latest tabletop PC. Sharing content with friends and family the way the Horizon 2 does gives desktop users the ability to experience the kind of sharing that mobile users take for granted.
Then there’s the Viewsonic VX2876iml 28-inch 1080p monitor. At first glance, it may look like any other display, but it has one important, mobile-friendly feature. Its Miracast wireless tech allows phones and tablets running Android to connect with the VX2876iml and mirror whatever’s on their device’s screen on the monitor. You scroll on your phone or tablet, and the monitor scrolls along with it. You play music or video, and the monitor displays it, and transmits the audio (nearly flawlessly in our hands-on) as well. We’ve all gathered friends and family around to show them stuff on our phones and slates. Being able to simply send stuff to a desktop monitor instead is a great way for PC and component makers to leverage the popularity, prevalence and power of mobile tech.
And the biggest change of all are the multitudes of PCs revealed at CES 2014 that ship with both Android and Windows 8, like the Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300. The Transformer Book Duet can dual boot the two operating system, giving desktop users the same apps and content available to owners of Android slates and smartphones. You can switch between OSes with the press of a button – it takes about two seconds. The ViewSonic VSD231 monitor and Asus Transformer AiO P1802 also ship with Android 4.3. With more than a million apps available for Android, it couldn’t be more useful, given the poor showing in Microsoft’s Windows Store. This idea was initially broached by Android emulator Bluestacks, but PC manufacturers have begun to fully integrate Android into Windows in increasing numbers.
These are all clear signs that PC makers are finally learning how to take advantage of the mobile world. The more our PCs, tablets, smartphones, and possibly smartwatches interact, the easier everything will be.