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Ditch that laptop for good: How to convert your phone into a full-on computer

Killer Device: How the humble smartphone is quickly killing off PCs and laptops to become the ultimate all-in-one productivity gadget, thanks to new features like Continuum, Convergence and Maru Mobile.

The future seems to be bleak for bulky, clunky home computers.

Last year we saw Microsoft introduce Continuum for its new Windows 10 phones, undoubtedly the most interesting stand-out feature for the new platform, which allows you to connect your Lumia phone to any standard monitor or TV via HDMI using Microsoft’s special dock.

Of course, we’ve had the ability to pair smartphones with tellies for a while now, even without the use of wires via the likes of Chromecast, but the experience is often basic at best; you can only see an exact reproduction of your phone’s screen, blown up to eye-scraping proportions, which is fine if you simply want to bore your relatives to death with photo slideshows.

What Continuum does instead is provide a proper desktop experience, as if you’d just plugged your laptop into your monitor instead of your phone. You have a full-on widescreen workspace to play with and the ability to attach peripherals such as a keyboard and a mouse, either using the dock’s ports or via Bluetooth, to complete the set-up.

Enough words. Check out our video below to see Continuum in action.

This is a system that makes perfect sense, as our mobiles are rapidly becoming powerful and efficient 64-bit machines. It’s one thing having all of your files in the cloud, so you can jump between devices on the fly. But wouldn’t it be nice to just need one device, whether you’re sat at home in your makeshift office or stuck outside London Bridge on a packed-out train for the third bloody time this week? And as an added bonus, you’re no longer dependent on a constant data connection to work on your documents.

Fair enough, the likes of the Lumia 950 isn’t ideal for editing complex documents on the move. But the all-in-one mobile device of the near future will probably look more like Samsung’s Galaxy Note, a big-screen phablet with stylus support and clever multi-tasking abilities, to give a genuinely satisfying work experience both on the move and in the home or office.

The Android alternative to Continuum

Android users will soon have their own version of Continuum in the form of Maru Mobile, a replacement OS that provides pretty much the same functionality. Simply connect your phone to a big screen using a USB-to-HDMI cable (available cheaply via the likes of Amazon), then add on a wireless keyboard and mouse to enjoy a fully-fledged Linux desktop experience.

Maru is still in the beta stage, so it currently only works with the Nexus 5 handset, but the developers are expanding support to other popular Androids soon. And the beta is free to check out if you happen to own LG’s Google-branded phone.

Ubuntu Mobile

In fact, there’s already another alternative to Continuum for enjoying an all-in-one mobile and desktop experience, in the form of Ubuntu OS. Last week BQ announced a new ten-inch tablet running Ubuntu called the Aquaris M10 that can also double as a desktop PC when hooked up to a monitor or telly.

The Aquaris M10 looks like a decent enough tab, packing one of the latest Mediatek processors along with a massive 7280mAh battery, but its biggest draw is the Convergence feature that allows you to connect it to any big screen, giving you a full Linux desktop environment. You can use any Linux-based desktop apps as well as Android mobile apps, making it a seriously flexible portable device.

Have you tried out Continuum or any other desktop-style experiences on a mobile device? Hit us up in the comments below.

Read next: Best big-screen phones and phablets

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