Here at Mobile World Congress, the latest and greatest technologies for on-the-go computing make up most of the buzz. Still, the humble PC hasn’t been eclipsed by sleek, do-all tablets and smartphones. At Broadcom’s booth, the PC isn’t going away. It’s just becoming more compact and more affordable.
Today, at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Broadcom is showing a dongle-like device — think of it as a PC on a stick that’s about the size of a pack of chewing gum. The device, displayed without a cover at the Broadcom booth, is essentially a printed circuit board that plugs into either a USB port or HDMI port on a larger display, such as a monitor or TV.
Combined with cloud technology and connected to any Bluetooth-enabled mouse or keyboard, this dongle has the potential to become the next generation of personal computing. Through Wi-Fi, the device taps into the Internet, where it connects to an operating system and computing applications hosted in the cloud to become, in essence, a personal computer than fits into your pocket.
The potential use cases are numerous but Broadcom’s Martyn Humphries, Vice President & General Manager, MAP, in the Mobile & Wireless Group, highlights two immediate potential, always-on-the-go user groups: telecommuters and students.
For remote workers, the dongle-like device is a surrogate work PC, authorized for access to a company network and files, via the cloud. Because it’s significantly cheaper to issue than a standard laptop or desktop, the company even has the option of disconnecting the user when the job is over, instead of trying to chase someone down for returned equipment.
Likewise, students can also benefit, Broadcom’s Humphries said. Getting broadband into classrooms isn’t as much of a challenge as it once was — but procuring computers for students is still expensive, as is maintenance and security. Through this model, student-issued computers become a less costly expense – each dongle costs less than $50 to make — and the ability to purchase them in bulk becomes far less pricey for budget-strapped schools.
And, because the operating system and applications are housed in the cloud, system-wide updates and upgrades become much easier and far less disruptive.
In an age of mobile, it’s easy to look past the old standby PCs, but many companies will find this to be an attractive and affordable — and portable — alternative.
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