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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday January 17 2018, @09:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the one-platform-to-rule-them-all dept.

New laptops are drawing upon features/attributes associated with smartphones, such as LTE connectivity, ARM processors, (relatively) high battery life, and walled gardens:

This year's crop of CES laptops -- which we'll define broadly to include Windows-based two-in-one hybrids and slates -- even show signs of a sudden evolutionary leap. The long-predicted PC-phone convergence is happening, but rather than phones becoming more like computers, computers are becoming more like phones.

The most obvious way this is happening is the new breed of laptops that ditch the traditional Intel (and sometimes AMD) processors for new Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. So far, we've seen three of these Snapdragon systems announced: the HP Envy x2, the Asus NoveGo and the Lenovo Miix 630.

Laptops with lower-end processors have been tried before, with limited success. Why is now potentially the right time? Because these systems aren't being pitched as bargain basement throwaways -- and in fact, they'll cost $600 and up, the same as many mainstream laptops in the US. Instead, they promise some very high-end features, including always-on LTE connectivity (like a phone) and 20-plus hours of battery life with weeks of standby time, which also sounds more like a phone than a PC. The tradeoff is that these Snapdragon laptops run Windows 10 S, a limited version of Windows 10, which only allows apps from the official Microsoft app store. That's also similar to the walled garden of mobile OS apps many phones embrace.

[...] There's another take on phone-laptop convergence happening here at CES. Razer, the PC and accessory maker, always brings one or two inventive prototypes to CES, such as last year's triple-screen Project Valerie laptop. The concept piece for CES 2018 is Project Linda, a 13-inch laptop shell, with a large cutout where the touchpad would normally be. You drop a Razer Phone in that slot, press a button, and the two pieces connect, with the laptop body acting as a high-end dock for the phone. The phone acts as a touchpad and also a second screen, and it works with the growing number of Android apps that have been specially formatted for larger laptop screens or computer monitors.

Original Submission

Related Stories

Symetium Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for a "Smartphone PC" 13 comments

Tom's Hardware is reporting on an IndieGoGo campaign to fund a dockable "smartphone PC". Symetium is pitching a customized UI Android 6.0 smartphone with a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 6 GB of RAM, and from 64 to 256 GB of flash storage along with an SD card slot. The Symetium IndieGoGo claims that the device "features an operating system designed to work seamlessly as a desktop OS and a mobile one". When docked with an external display (wirelessly or by USB), the phone can act as a keyboard and mouse.

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be remembering the Ubuntu Edge, a similar concept phone from Canonical that also used an IndieGoGo fixed funding campaign. Canonical sought $32 million for the Ubuntu Edge but only raised $12,809,906. Symetium is looking for just $1.25 million. Prices range from $499 to $999 and it is expected to ship by July 2016.

Original Submission

Maru OS: an Android ROM that Turns into Debian when it Senses Connected PC Peripherals 8 comments

Softpedia reports

A phone that is powered by Android and magically transforms into a Linux desktop when connected to an external display has been tried before. It was called Ubuntu for Android and it was one of Canonical's earliest attempts at some sort of convergence between the mobile and PC worlds.

It never succeeded and it was never launched. [The idea, however,] was working and they had a preliminary version of it in a sort of functional state. It's not clear why Canonical dropped the project but it probably had something to do with the hardware which wasn't all that powerful three or four years ago.

Maru is trying to do a similar thing. [...] [Now that] the team behind this project has better hardware, [....] it should work--at least in theory.

For the moment, Maru only works for Nexus 5 and it's in a closed beta. This means that if you subscribe, maybe you'll be given access. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be the kind of project that can work on anything and support needs to be added to each individual phone model.

[From the project site [1]]

Maru Mobile is built on the latest Android Lollipop. It ships with zero bloatware, so your phone runs snappy and has lots of free space for all your apps. Maru Desktop brings you true multitasking and desktop productivity in a lightweight package.

[Update: Maru is being open sourced!]

[1] The site's content is behind scripts; the link bypasses it.

Original Submission

What Are Must-Have Specs for a Laptop in 2017? 76 comments

Ars Technica has an editorial on what they'd want in a laptop in 2017. Inspired by this, I figured to make my own list and ask SN for input. I'm not looking for a laptop, but it's fun to think about specs, right?

Anyway, I do think use case is important. My use case: working and travelling daily with laptop, sometimes to various institutes to give presentations. This already leads to some important requirements:

  • Lightweight (I frequently take the laptop somewhere)
  • Not needing a plethora of dongles. (I've forgotten the power supply more than once already, I'm sure forgetting a dongle or two will happen more frequently).

Thinking about it more, most of the things the Ars Editor loves are things I honestly don't use, or actively do not want (touch screen).

With that in mind, I'd arrive at:

  • No touchscreen - it adds weight while I don't use its features
  • 13 inch screen seems to balance portability and screen size well.
  • 1920x1080 resolution - higher will drain the battery faster, and is not needed on 13 inch
  • VGA port - almost all presentation places I come across need converters (dongles) for anything else.
  • USB 2 and 3 ports - again, for compatibility
  • 512 GB SDD
  • 10GB or more memory
  • Dual boot compatible with Ubuntu (I use Ubuntu, but for the occasional gadget that can get updates via your computer, you'll still need Windows or MacOS)
  • Preferably with regular ethernet port - there are still hotels where wired is free, but wifi is paid.

Other than that I'd go for modern iterations of specs for things like ethernet, wifi, CPU, etc. So Kaby Lake processor, things like that. GPU is not a big issue, so probably the integrated Intel thing on a modern Intel CPU will be sufficient.

Anything I missed? Anything you'd do radically different? If so: why?

Original Submission

ARM Based Laptop DIY Kit Ready to Hit the Shops 23 comments

Olimex just announced the avaliability of their TERES I DIY laptop. The name is from king of ancient times that ruled in the area of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Return of the netbook? At least once the products stop being out of stock.

This kit lets you assemble a laptop with quad core Allwinner A64 (64 bit ARM Cortex A53 cores), 1GB RAM, 11.6" inch screen 1366 x 768, 4GB eMMC, WiFi & BT, camera, 7000 mAh battery in just under a Kg. Avaliable in black or white, with US keyboard showing a nice Tux. In the assembly instructions you can see two USB ports, HDMI, 3.5 headphone jack, microSD slot, mic and side speakers. Multiple modular cards to update or fix as needed. No fans. Current price 225 EUR incl VAT.

AC opinion: the RAM is soldered and small for modern times, but it could become a plataform upon which to improve without having to throw away everything. Olimex already lists some ideas for future add ons, like FPGA based Logic Analyzer, in the instructions. All spare parts are listed already in shop, some with PCB files (Open Source Hardware, developed with KiCAD) for those wanting to do custom versions.

Original Submission

Windows 10 PCs Running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to Arrive this Year 15 comments

The ARM partnership between Microsoft and Qualcomm is notable as it expands Windows 10's existing support of x86 chips from Intel and AMD. It also looks set to overcome the constraints of Microsoft's previous ARM effort with Windows RT.

The Snapdragon 835 PCs will run full Windows 10 desktop, which has been compiled natively for Qualcomm's SoCs. They'll also run Win32 apps via an emulator, as well as universal Windows apps. Microsoft billed the forthcoming devices as a "truly mobile, power-efficient, always-connected cellular PC".

Original Submission

Microsoft Knows Windows is Obsolete. Here's a Sneak Peek at Its Replacement. 160 comments

Microsoft's only choice to move forward is to throw the Win32 baby out with the bathwater. And that brings us to the introduction of Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S is just like the Windows 10 you use now, but the main difference is it can only run apps that have been whitelisted to run in the Windows Store. That means, by and large, existing Win32-based stuff cannot run in Windows 10 S for security reasons.

To bridge the app gap, Microsoft is allowing certain kinds of desktop apps to be "packaged" for use in the Windows Store through a tooling process known as Desktop Bridge or Project Centennial.

The good news is that with Project Centennial, many Desktop Win32 apps can be re-purposed and packaged to take advantage of Windows 10's improved security. However, there are apps that will inevitably be left behind because they violate the sandboxing rules that are needed to make the technology work in a secure fashion.

"A casualty of those sandboxing rules is Google's Chrome browser. For security reasons, Microsoft is not permitting desktop browsers to be ported to the Store."

Original Submission

Samsung to Give Linux Desktop Experience to Smartphone Users 57 comments

Samsung has announced a new app called Linux on Galaxy that works with its DeX docking station to bring a full Linux desktop experience to Galaxy Note8, Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphone users.

Comments from IDC sounded skeptical saying the concept is "interesting at best", but "the No. 1 challenge is that there is no public infrastructure for where you can dock your phone, other than in your home or office... Where you really would like to have that is at a hotel, at an airport, etc."

Samsung is touting their DeX environment as "supremely better than all the earlier attempts to have a smartphone docking into a big screen".

Original Submission

Samsung Shows Off Linux Desktops on Galaxy 8 Smartphone 18 comments

El Reg reports

Ubuntu--all of it--running Eclipse on a phone, and a DeX dock

Video Samsung's shown a little more of its plans to run fully-fledged Linux desktops on its 8-series Galaxy smartmobes.

Samsung teased the idea of Linux on its flagship phones in October 2017, promising that Linux would run in your hand or, if you use its DeX dock, in full desktop mode on a monitor. Now it's released [a video] to show off its idea.

Described as a "Concept Demo", the vid has a couple of interesting moments.

The first comes at the 12 second mark, after the "Linux on Galaxy" app has been run. At this point we see Ubuntu 16 listed, along with a plus sign to add other OSes to the app. This appears to make good on Samsung's promise that you'll be able to have multiple OSes in your Galaxy.

Not long after the app boots, an Ubuntu desktop duly appears and runs Eclipse [the FOSS integrated development environment].

In its original announcement of Linux on Galaxy, Samsung said it was aimed at developers wanting Linux wherever they may roam, on the off-chance they feel like doing a spot of coding on a very small screen. At 1:09 in the video below, the company puts some meat on those bones by suggesting Linux on a smartphone means developers can "use classic IDE desktop IDE for native ARM development."

Which sounds a bit more like it as The Register can imagine developers using a handset to test an app and tweaking it on the run, popping a phone in and out of a dock when a proper look at the code is required

Samsung's still not saying when Linux on Galaxy will debut, but at least now we know it's more than[sic] advanced than mere announcementware. The company's still offering the chance to sign up for more info about the tool, here.

Previous: Samsung to Give Linux Desktop Experience to Smartphone Users

Original Submission

First ARM Snapdragon-Based Windows 10 S Systems Announced 15 comments

Microsoft Windows is back on ARM:

Just shy of a year after announcing that Windows was once again going to be available on ARM systems, the first two systems were announced today: the Asus NovaGo 2-in-1 laptop, and the HP Envy x2 tablet.

[...] The Asus laptop boasts 22 hours of battery life or 30 days of standby, along with LTE that can run at gigabit speeds. HP's tablet offers a 12.3 inch, 1920×1280 screen, 20 hours battery life or 29 days of standby, and a removable keyboard-cover and stylus. Both systems use the Snapdragon 835 processor and X16 LTE modem, with HP offering up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage to go with it.

Lenovo is expected to announce a similar system in the coming weeks.

Also at The Verge, Engadget, and TechCrunch.

Previously: Big Changes Planned by Microsoft - Windows 10 on ARM, Laptops to Behave More Like Phones
Windows 10 PCs Running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to Arrive this Year
New Windows 10 S Only Runs Software From Windows Store
Microsoft Knows Windows is Obsolete. Here's a Sneak Peek at Its Replacement.
New App Allows Win32 Software to Run on Windows 10 S
Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation

Original Submission

Snapdragon 845 Announced 6 comments

Snapdragon 845 is a newly announced Qualcomm ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC) built on a 10nm "Low Power Plus" process. It is the first SoC to implement ARM's new DynamiQ clustering scheme:

The Snapdragon 845 is a large step in terms of SoC architectures as it's the first to employ ARM's DynamiQ CPU cluster organization. Quickly explained, DynamIQ enables the various different CPU cores within an SoC to be hosted within the same cluster and cache hierarchy, as opposed to having separate discrete clusters with no shared cache between them (with coherency instead happening over an interconnect such as ARM's CCI). This major transition is probably the largest to date that we've seen in modern mobile smartphone ARM consumer SoCs.

[...] The Kryo 385 gold/performance cluster runs at up to 2.8GHz, which is a 14% frequency increase over the 2.45GHz of the Snapdragon 835's CPU core. But we also have to remember that given that the new CPU cores are likely based on A75's we should be expecting IPC gains of up to 22-34% based on use-cases, bringing the overall expected performance improvement to 25-39%. Qualcomm promises a 25-30% increase so we're not far off from ARM's projections.

The silver/efficiency cluster is running at 1.8GHz, this is clocked slightly slower than the A53's on the Snapdragon 835 however the maximum clocks of the efficiency cluster is mainly determined by where the efficiency curve of the performance cluster intersects. Nevertheless the efficiency cores promise 15% boost in performance compared to its predecessor.

The Adreno 630 GPU should provide up to 30% better performance than the Snapdragon 835's Adreno 540 at the same level of power consumption. Snapdragon 845 devices can record (encode) 2160p60 10-bit H.265 video, compared to 2160p30 for Snapdragon 835.

Also at The Verge, CNET, TechCrunch, BGR, and 9to5Google.

Previously: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 Detailed: 3 Billion Transistors on a 10nm Process

Original Submission

Qualcomm Joins Others in Confirming its CPUs Suffer From Spectre, and Other Meltdown News 31 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Qualcomm has confirmed its processors have the same security vulnerabilities disclosed this week in Intel, Arm and AMD CPU cores this week.

The California tech giant picked the favored Friday US West Coast afternoon "news dump" slot to admit at least some of its billions of Arm-compatible Snapdragon system-on-chips and newly released Centriq server-grade processors are subject to the Meltdown and/or Spectre data-theft bugs.

[...] Qualcomm declined to comment further on precisely which of the three CVE-listed vulnerabilities its chips were subject to, or give any details on which of its CPU models may be vulnerable. The paper describing the Spectre data-snooping attacks mentions that Qualcomm's CPUs are affected, while the Meltdown paper doesn't conclude either way.

[...] Apple, which too bases its iOS A-series processors on Arm's instruction set, said earlier this week that its mobile CPUs were vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown – patches are available or incoming for iOS. The iGiant's Intel-based Macs also need the latest macOS, version 10.13.2 or greater, to kill off Meltdown attacks.

ARM Aims to Match Intel 15-Watt Laptop CPU Performance 12 comments

Arm Unveils Client CPU Performance Roadmap Through 2020 - Taking Intel Head On

Today's roadmap now publicly discloses the codenames of the next two generations of CPU cores following the A76 – Deimos and Hercules. Both future cores are based on the new A76 micro-architecture and will introduce respective evolutionary refinements and incremental updates for the Austin cores.

The A76 being a 2018 product – and we should be hearing more on the first commercial devices on 7nm towards the end of the year and coming months, Deimos is its 2019 successor aiming at more wide-spread 7nm adoption. Hercules is said to be the next iteration of the microarchitecture for 2020 products and the first 5nm implementations. This is as far as Arm is willing to project in the future for today's disclosure, as the Sophia team is working on the next big microarchitecture push, which I suspect will be the successor to Hercules in 2021.

Part of today's announcement is Arm's reiteration of the performance and power goals of the A76 against competing platforms from Intel. The measurement metric today was the performance of a SPECint2006 Speed run under Linux while complied under GCC7. The power metrics represent the whole SoC "TDP", meaning CPU, interconnect and memory controllers – essentially the active platform power much in a similar way we've been representing smartphone mobile power in recent mobile deep-dive articles.

Here a Cortex A76 based system running at up to 3GHz is said to match the single-thread performance of an Intel Core i5-7300U running at its maximum 3.5GHz turbo operating speed, all while doing it within a TDP of less than 5W, versus "15W" for the Intel system. I'm not too happy with the power presentation done here by Arm as we kind of have an apples-and-oranges comparison; the Arm estimates here are meant to represent actual power consumption under the single-threaded SPEC workload while the Intel figures are the official TDP figures of the SKU – which obviously don't directly apply to this scenario.

Also at TechCrunch.

See also: Arm Maps Out Attack on Intel Core i5
ARM's First Client PC Roadmap Makes Bold Claims, Doesn't Back Them Up
ARM says its next processors will outperform Intel laptop chips

Related: ARM Based Laptop DIY Kit Ready to Hit the Shops
First ARM Snapdragon-Based Windows 10 S Systems Announced
Laptop and Phone Convergence at CES
Snapdragon 1000 ARM SoC Could Compete With Low-Power Intel Chips in Laptops

Original Submission

This Dock Turns Your iPhone or Android Smartphone Into A Laptop 14 comments

PC Watch has uncovered a new makeshift laptop design that turns any smartphone into a working laptop:

The HTL WitH features a 13.3-inch display and a 5000mAh battery. It is compatible with Android and iPhone smartphones featuring display output through their respectable charging ports.

The WitH features a 13.3-inch IPS LCD that supports a 1080P resolution; the clamshell measures 311x210x14.9mm and weighs 2.6lb. The device carries a very respectable 5000mAh battery that we believe powers both the device and charges the smartphone simultaneously. Either way, the laptop reportedly has a 6-hour operation time.

[...] Sadly, this laptop device is not available in the United States and only appears to be available from Amazon's Japanese web page, priced at 61,380 Yen or $449.

A viable alternative to Chromebooks?

Related: Laptop and Phone Convergence at CES

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Wednesday January 17 2018, @09:50PM (3 children)

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 17 2018, @09:50PM (#623838) Journal

    New laptops are drawing upon features/attributes associated with smartphones, such as […] walled gardens:

    If it is a walled garden, it's not a laptop. It's a smart device in laptop form factor.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday January 17 2018, @09:53PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 17 2018, @09:53PM (#623842) Journal

      New laptops are drawing upon features/attributes associated with smartphones, such as […] walled gardens:

      If it is a walled garden, it's not a laptop. It's a smart device in laptop form factor.

      It's a smart clamshell.
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday January 18 2018, @08:55AM

        by c0lo (156) on Thursday January 18 2018, @08:55AM (#624073) Journal

        New laptops are drawing upon features/attributes associated with smartphones, such as […] walled gardens:

        If it is a walled garden, it's not a laptop. It's a smart device in laptop form factor.

        It's a smart clamshell.
        Really? Like... really-really?!?
    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Grishnakh on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:27PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:27PM (#623863)

      Fallacy: No True Scotsman.

      These are laptops, like it or not.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:16PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:16PM (#623855)

    I don't want a locked down laptop running some half-assed OS.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:32PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:32PM (#623869)

      Then don't buy it. This isn't the first time Microsoft tried hawking Windows 10S.

      If people buy these things in droves and in a year or two everyone's forced to run Win10S with its walled garden, we only have ourselves to blame.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:20PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:20PM (#623859)

    Or will it be a year of a source-based distro? (Assuming you can root the device.) Since no legacy binaries will likely run on it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:23PM (#623860)

      I certainly hope you can run your own OS on it.

      This doesn't necessarily mean the year of Gentoo, though: Debian for example is compiled for the following architectures:

          * amd64
          * arm64
          * armel
          * armhf
          * i386
          * mips
          * mips64el
          * mipsel
          * ppc64el
          * s390x

    • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Thursday January 18 2018, @12:09PM

      by TheRaven (270) on Thursday January 18 2018, @12:09PM (#624102) Journal

      Legacy Win32 binaries will work on them, via binary translation. I've not played with one, but apparently the speed is pretty good. They do the same sorts of tricks that Transitive did, proxying a load of API calls, so time spent in any of the system libraries is running native code and only time spent in the application binary itself is emulated (this means things like text layout / rendering, most graphics drawing code, and so on is all native, and GPU shaders are, of course, compiled to native code for the GPU).

      Not sure why you'd need Gentoo though, you just need an OS that provides binary packages for ARM, which a lot of Linux distros and BSDs do.

      sudo mod me up
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:52PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:52PM (#623882)

    Tablets and ebook readers. These devices seem somewhere between laptop and smartphone, but not suitable for work (laptop) nor portable communication device (phone). But it turns out to be a good form factor for media consumption - viewing ebooks and technical manuals, retail data for salespeople, browsing the web for recipes and other info, and watching videos.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Thursday January 18 2018, @06:49AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 18 2018, @06:49AM (#624044) Journal

      A tablet will become a suitable replacement for an ebook reader when they start having comparable battery lifetimes, at least when only used to read ebooks.

      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:54PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17 2018, @10:54PM (#623883)

    All in all it sounds like Microsoft simply didn't learn anything from their Windows RT attempt back when Windows 8 launched.

    • (Score: 2) by Virindi on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:28PM (2 children)

      by Virindi (3484) on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:28PM (#623900)

      No, no! The real problem with "Windows RT" was that "RT" is not a cool enough set of letters. Luckily, Apple has already paved the way by naming a version "S" and all Microsoft has to do is follow. Success is guaranteed!

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:56PM (1 child)

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:56PM (#623914)

        S ? Seriously ?
        Even Apple considers "S" to be low-end.

        I demand these tablets run Linux FX GTO XP or at least Linux 2 Alpha Turbo Prime.

        • (Score: 2) by Virindi on Thursday January 18 2018, @01:46AM

          by Virindi (3484) on Thursday January 18 2018, @01:46AM (#623958)

          I demand these tablets run Linux FX GTO XP or at least Linux 2 Alpha Turbo Prime.

          I first read that as "Linux FX GTFO XP"...

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MostCynical on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:17PM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday January 17 2018, @11:17PM (#623898) Journal

    Things that switch between (removable keyboards)
    And now.. giant tablets that kind of act like phones.

    Provided the graphics cards aren't crap, they will be okay for Skype and facetwitgram, so they really will be competing with "normal" sim card tablets.
    If enough people hate typing on a screen, and these are better, they could take off in the over-60s non-tech market.

    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20 2018, @02:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 20 2018, @02:12AM (#625007)

    Every converged device I've seen costs *more* than the separate components would and delivers less.