Thursday, February 19, 2004

Using your laptop as a phone

In an article on, manufacturers are talking about using laptops as phones. Intel, among others, is talking about integrating Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and even cell provider access in its chipset. The term for these kinds of laptops is "Extended Mobile Access" (EMA). When the laptop is in a sleep state, a small EMA screen on the outer lid will still function as a phone, voice messaging system, display incoming e-mails, allow access to calendar, contacts, etc. (this sounds a lot like the Paul Allen computer I reported on earlier this week with its LID technology).

So who would really use this? The article says it is aimed at international travelers as a base market to help reduce the costs of calling, which I understand. However, having used a Blackberry phone (like holding a brick to your head), I really can't imagine using my laptop as a phone -- yes, I understand that I wouldn't be holding a laptop to my head; it still doesn't feel right.

How about this -- just build VOIP into my phone. The way smart devices are going, I'd love to just be able to leave my laptop at home. I could certainly conceive of a Treo 600 form factor that intelligently switched between GSM and VOIP to save me money.

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