back to article Alcatel unveils 'cheaper-than-Chromebook' Lapdock-alike phablet-powered laptop

Alcatel had the distinction of previewing the least powerful device at MWC. At the mobile extravaganza, the French firm unveiled the prototype of the Hero, a dumb terminal which interfaces to its Hero mobile phone to provide a full screen and keyboard. The device is called a smartbook, but all the smarts actually reside in the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was going to get another laptop but I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero to the end of the night..

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      In Bonnie Tyler we trust.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Hero we go again

      I thought the name "Hero" was already licenced by HTC was a model, about 6y ago?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Future

    This makes a lot of sense. These days the phone in your pocket is a very powerful computer. Despite phones getting bigger and bigger jabbing away on a 5 inch touch screen is still a poor use interface.

    Adding a cheap screen and keyboard (i.e. decent user interface) that can be tethered and use the power if your phone and not have to carry a laptop around as well would work for me. Plus there is no extra OS/machine to manage.

    Isn't this similar to what Ubuntu are trying to do, just have a phone which you dock?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: The Future

      I got my daughter a £7.99 case and keyboard for her little tablet. The keyboard is very useful for the phone when writing more than 'LOL' and actually makes it quite useful. There's HDMI over microUSB too which should allow me to plug it into the telly but I'm having trouble locating a connector that will allow me to use a USB hub so I can use the keyboard with the phone on the telly - or appropriate portable screen.

      But would much prefer to be able to run Linux on the phone - the apps are already out there and dont do adverts or call 'home' all the time.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The Future

        I'm not sure that a hub exists that will be let you use MHL and USB-OTG at the same time. Maybe a Bluetooth keyboard is your best bet: (scroll to near the bottom of the thread)

  3. Mage Silver badge

    This sort of makes sense

    If done properly as I remarked on an earlier post.

    The "phone dock" part shouldn't be much more than screen, keyboard and to make it really useful, ethernet and 4 x USB host sockets (though any decent smart phone has wifi, sometimes wired ethernet is better, e.g. open plan office).

    For smartphone users that only want email, internet, simple document editing & photo crop/Upload this makes more sense than a separate tablet or laptop. Nothing to sync.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: This sort of makes sense

      If it used some sort of standard interface/prototcol.

      Otherwise you have bought this and it doesn't work with any other brand phone, or the new replacement Hero phone you get at the end of the 2year deal. And then these devices all end up costing more than a tablet/chromebook/laptop because they are only made in small numbers.

      It's like when X-terms or dump cytrix terminals were all the rage - they soon end up costing more than the "full" PCs they were replacing.

      1. ocratato

        Re: This sort of makes sense

        This needs Google to specify an interface standard for Android docks. Then these can be made in large numbers at low cost.

  4. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    That kind of things

    may make me buy a smartphone.

  5. RyokuMas Silver badge

    How long...

    ... before Apple sue them for that case design?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    e-ink display

    A rear e-ink display is a really good idea. Yota have it built into a phone, but an add on would be good enough.

  7. Justin Clements

    MacBook Pro?

    Seriously? Aluminium coloured, black keyboard, black surround to the screen, large buttonless trackpad - could they make it look like a MacBook any more?

    But at least they changed the colour of a hinge.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: MacBook Pro?

      Actually, I'm sure that's just some real quick'n'dirty concept art, just to show how their system would work, without actually divulging what their actual hardware looks like this early in the game. It's fairly common with hardware in early development -- kind of like when an automaker is road-testing early prototypes of a new model on their test track; they know there'll likely be unauthorized photography going on just outside the test-track compound, so they bolt on body panels from known older models to disguise the prototype undergoing acceleration/braking/handling/other road tests.

      Whoever did the Alcatel concept image used a foto of what's obviously a MacBook Pro, and made no effort to disguise it aside from the nameplate which is obviously just sort of pasted in there, as Alcatel is probably still prototyping their own phone/tablet-dock dumb-terminal "notebook".

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: MacBook Pro?

      Not necessarily. The Samsung Chromebook has the same form factor and look too.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    power big screen off phone battery?

    Hello Alcatel, howabout you put a big battery in the flaptop thingy, so that the phone can charge when you plug it in.

    Also, a slot would be nice. The phone can switch over to aerials built into the flaptop thingy and be out of the way while you are in any case not using its interface.

    1. Craigness

      Re: power big screen off phone battery?

      It's cheaper without a battery. This thing would probably be used at home, so running down the phone battery is not a problem as it can be charged immediately, or it could be charging whilst you use the Hero. I have a battery in my Asus Transformer dock but the device has never been used on the road so it's never really been much of a benefit.

  9. Stevie Silver badge


    Prediction: The cost difference between this and a chromebook will be about the same as the difference between a bottle of vodka and a bottle of duty free vodka at an airport shop.

    1. e^iπ+1=0

      Bottle of vodka


      Last time I bought a bottle of vodka in a normal shop it cost $6; one week later I paid $22 in a duty free shop.

  10. Grease Monkey


    Why is the Chromebook price comparison made? Chromebooks tend to be full size laptops with full size screens - albeit with a poxy web browser only OS. This thing costs more than a similarly sized tablet with a blutooth keyboard, the nice thing about which is that you don't need an awful alcatel phone to be able to use it. Can't see it catching on at all. Of course if some cheap tablet vendor managed to make something cheaper which would work with any android phone then it might find a market.

    The nice thing about Chromebooks is that they tend to be decent laptops available for considerably less than a similarly specced Windows laptop. Drop ChromeOS and install your favourite Linux distro and you've got a nice laptop nice and cheap.

  11. Vociferous

    Abomination for people who listen to music on clock radios.

  12. Simon Rockman

    Can you listen to music on clock radios?

    I thought they only did The Today Programme.

  13. Chris Evans

    Difference from a Motorola lapdock?

    I'm not sure what the difference is from a Motorola Atrix lapdock?

    That didn't take off because of £4-500 price. Now they are available cheaply second hand they are very useful for use with a Raspberry PI. I wonder if the Alcatel unit with USB and HDMI connectors?

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