USB OTG, Android OS Devices & The Future of ComputingToday I had a lengthy "talk" with an former friend about the future of computing as it relates to smart phones and tablets. Leaving out the contentious points his stance was that he'd rather have a laptop for a bit more than what he gets for his money out of a tablet - and that tablets have some major shortcomings. Which I can definitively say he has some points. The devices are totally different. IMHO, it's an unfair comparison. Especially his tone when it came to pointing out that a $200 tablet (the new Nexus 7 I assume) can't run games like Rift, Crysis and the popular by a mile, and demanding Battlefield 3. That's fine, but I'm concerned with what's on the horizon, what's the future of computing looking like. However a laptop that runs Battlefield 3 on "recommended" requirements - and is worth what you are putting into it - needs at least a GeForce GTX 560. The cheapest laptop I could find to run this with optimal settings would be something like the ASUS G53SX-NH71. The current Newegg price is running at $1,179.99 plus shipping. And it's a powerhouse machine, i7 CPU (mobile edition!), 8 gigs of RAM and other goodies except a kinda small hard drive at only 500MB. Still, a decent machine. If you don't have $1,179 laying around TigerDirect has you covered with a refurbished machine for $1,039.99. So if you want a hardcore gaming rig you are looking to spend over $1,000. That's five times the price of a tablet that can do 99% of what that laptop can do - except play "hardcore" games. [Note: the Samsung line of gaming PC's being pushed at Newegg? $1,829 + shipping - that's 3.8 times the price of the Asus Transformer Prime with the highest end mobile CPU on the market, the Tegra3] And since "there is an app for that" - and almost an app for everything, especially on Android, there is no reason to be limited to just e-mailing, chatting, taking snapshots, checking Facebook/Google+ and using it as a phone. For the rest of the discussion here we'll assume iOS devices don't exist. Because they are not going to compare to either a laptop or an Android device of any type. Apple, we love you, but you are ages behind today. And Google is killing you in development and ideas. Daily. iOS is largely becoming irrelevant. Much like Steve Jobs (too soon? The guy was kinda a zuckerberg to say the least). Getting back to the bigger point of the discussion was that he can do more on the laptop than on an Android phone or tablet. But I disagree - if rooted you can hack it just as much as anything. I personally run a custom ROM and a custom kernel on my phone. And since it's rooted I can change any setting imaginable. Add in the run-of-the-mill apps (and specialized ones that pair up with hardware extensions) and the possibilities are endless really.
His Point Where He Was 100% + 2% Correct: Upgradability.You can upgrade your laptop - mostly. Most of the time you are stuck with the video card you bought with it, but you can upgrade drives, RAM and even pop in a newer CPU if you are so inclined. You can add a ton of peripherals with USB ports, etc. But you can also add peripherals to Android phones and tablets with USB OTG (On-The-Go) as well (turning the device into a USB host as opposed to just being a dumb USB Peripherals). The Android team added this in 3.1, Honeycomb, for their tablets - as Honeycomb is not part of the AOSP project and targeted towards tablets only. It is further supported in Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Support varies by manufacturer - so if you are interested it seems Samsung is the best in terms of supporting USB OTG devices. From the previous link as far as keyboards and mice are concerned;
Desktop keyboard: If you need to do long-form writing, you can use a standard computer keyboard (wired or wireless) to type on your Android phone or tablet. Even shortcuts like Ctrl-A and Ctrl-X will work. Mouse: This was pretty surprising -- when you connect a mouse (wired or wireless), a pointer will appear on your Android's screen. With that, you can use the mouse just as you would your finger.Though USB OTG is not required to use a keyboard and a mouse with most Android devices as they are standard HID (Human Interface Devices) and are supported by Bluetooth protocols. As of the time of writing of the aforementioned article the beloved Samsung Galaxy S III supports the PS3 controller out of the box;
PS3 controller: Now, this is pretty crazy. The Samsung Galaxy S III is stock-compatible with the PS3 controller. As soon as you connect it, you can navigate the interface using the analog (thumb) stick. Most importantly, the controller is compatible with some Android games. So far, the inventory of PS3 controller-ready games has been hit or miss, but [ED: Ironically?] Sega games (like Sonic) definitely work.An article published today (7/23/2012) on phones review states there is even more compatibility for the PS3 controller:
The following devices have been found to support the accessory and include the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Sony Tablet S, Droid RAZR, Acer Iconia Tab A200, Acer Iconia Tab A500, Toshiba Excite 10, and the Archos G9.