Update: Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

Last December, I wrote the following in this newsletter at http://bit.ly/2nNh4gC:

“Today, the smartphone can become a person’s only computer, used alone when away from home or the office, then used with a “docking station” when at home or at the office. Of course, most smartphones already have internal cameras, even webcams. With a docking station to accommodate a keyboard, a larger screen, stereo speakers, printers, scanners, and more, today’s home computer may soon become a thing of the past.”

I also wrote:

“Will your next PC be a smartphone? Do you really need a desktop computer for checking email, surfing the web, or doing genealogy research? The smartphones of today will do most everything your present desktop computer can do.”

It looks like some people agree with me. One company with plans for converting a smartphone into a desktop or laptop computer is a rather well-known producer of personal computers and of smartphones: Apple.

A new patent application from Apple shows the company is toying with the idea of a laptop powered by an iPhone that’s docked face up where the touchpad is normally positioned.

LiteBook – the Impressive $249 to $269 Linux Laptop

NOTE: the following article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. Instead, it reflects one of my other interests: low-cost hardware that can be used for multiple purposes. I decided to publish the article here in case others might have similar interests.

Linux has always been known as a more secure operating system than Windows and even more secure than Macintosh. For most installations, Linux also requires less computing power than do either of its two major competing operating systems: Windows and Macintosh. Therefore, it is interesting (to me) that a company called Litebook has released a new Linux laptop that is priced to compete with Chromebooks and other low-cost laptops. The price? $249. If you want to add the one (and only) option available, it may cost you $269. Those prices include a one-year warranty.

Even at those prices, the LiteBook has some impressive specifications.

An Easy Way to Add More Disk Space to Your Computer

low-disk-spaceIs your computer’s hard drive getting full? No matter how much hard drive space came with your computer, chances are you have already used a good chunk of that space. Sometimes I think that all disk drives exist simply for the purpose of filling them up. Of course, you can always buy a new computer with a bigger internal disk drive, but my wallet rebels at that that idea. For many people, there is an easier and cheaper solution: add an external plug-in disk drive.

Adding an external hard drive adds huge amounts of disk space, as much as you might want. It also adds portability and safety, and it provides an easy way to backup your valuable data. It is surprisingly affordable and easy to do. I recently added a 960 gigabyte external hard drive (that’s almost a terabyte!) to my laptop computer and thought I would describe the process. It was simple. The entire “installation” process required about three minutes to complete. No screwdrivers or other tools were required. The technical knowledge required? Just about zero.

The Best Laptop for Traveling Is One You Can Afford to Lose

laptop_stolenThis is not a genealogy-related article. However, I wrote an article that describes a problem and a solution that I think every person who is contemplating purchasing a laptop should read. I won’t publish the article here but will mention that it is available at https://goo.gl/CvYS4i in case you would like to read it.

All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps

asus_flipChromebooks offer a lot of computing for very little money. Some Chromebooks cost less than $200. Spending a bit more money, however, results in faster performance, better displays, and better keyboards. The better Chromebooks cost $250 to $350 although a few may cost even more. When traveling, I normally carry my $200 Chromebook laptop with me and it does most everything I need to do. You can read my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=h_&ia=web.

A few recent Chromebooks have been able to run both web-based apps as well as Android apps simultaneously. The new capability includes dozens of genealogy apps that were developed for Android. Now Google, the company that produces the Chrome operating system, has announced that ALL the new Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps and will have access to the Google Play Store, the marquee store for Android apps.

Dacuda – PocketScan Wireless Scanner

This might be the world’s smallest scanner. A genealogist could carry it in pocket or purse when visiting libraries or archives and make digital copies of documents, photographs, pages from books, or anything similar.


Quoting from the advertising:

Swipe this hand-held scanner over any text or image, and it sends a high-res image to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.

Kids’ artwork, documents, recipes, or just a part of a page—all look much clearer than a pic from your phone, thanks to built-in illumination. Even artwork, large books, and other images that aren’t completely flat get scanned beautifully. That can’t happen on glass or with a camera.

Kingston Announces the World’s Largest Capacity USB Flash Drive that has More Storage than Your Desktop Computer: 2 Terabytes

I have written often about the need to make frequent backups of your genealogy data and anything else that is important to you. While not the only backup method available, one method is by copying files to flash drives. Traditionally, flash drives have been capable of storing a few gigabytes of data although the exact number keeps increasing every few months as the manufacturers constantly release new, higher-capacity devices. Now Kingston has beat the competition by offering a two-terabyte flash drive. That’s 2,000 gigabytes! This is now the world’s largest capacity USB flash drive.


The new DataTraveler Ultimate GT is a USB flash drive that offers 2 terabytes (2,000 gigabytes) of storage. It is expected to start shipping next month. A one-terabyte version will also be available. The drive features a case made out of zinc-alloy for improved durability, and the storage capacity means you can carry over 70 hours’ worth of 4K video in your pocket. It uses a USB 3.1 high-speed interface that is also backwards compatible with older USB 2 computers. Even at USB 3.1’s high speeds, I can guess that copying 2 terabytes of data from your computer to the new flash drive will require many hours.

Follow-Up: Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

Last week, I wrote Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement? at https://goo.gl/7fSfgX. A new article this week about Samsung’s upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone seems to make the predictions in my article become true even faster than I had expected. Samsung’s upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone could give users the ability to plug it into a screen and turn it into a desktop personal computer, according to a media report.


Click on the above image to view a larger version.

The All About Windows Phone blog written by Steve Litchfield contains a leaked slide from a presentation showing a Samsung smartphone being connected to a large external screen, along with a full-sized keyboard and mouse. The slide is titled “Samsung Desktop Experience” and shows a phone powering a screen to create a multi-tasking interface, presumably running on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Is the Smartphone Becoming the PC Replacement?

According to a recent Pew Research study, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them. The number that fascinates me, however, is that 7% of Americans own a smartphone but have neither traditional broadband service at home, nor easily available alternatives for going online other than their cell phone. That number is growing. (See https://goo.gl/yf1y57 for the full results of the Pew Research study.)

Basic cell phones only place and receive telephone calls. Others add cameras. However, the real growth area lies with the intelligent cell phones that have built-in computer functionality. These are typically called “smartphones.” Let’s examine these and especially look at the genealogy applications available.


Smartphones available today include the Apple iPhone, Android phones, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and others. Besides serving as telephones, these smartphones allow the user to install and use various programs, such as web browsers, email programs, spreadsheet programs, word processors, genealogy programs, instant messaging programs, GPS navigation, and a wide variety of games. Most smartphones now have a variety of programs to choose from, including some that access and update Facebook and Twitter. In other words, smartphones are computers in the same manner as our desktop systems or laptop computers, only with much smaller display screens and tiny keyboards.

The Myths About Chromebooks

Yes, I have written often about Chromebooks but my latest article has generated a lot of comments. Permit me at least one more article to answer some frequently-asked-questions…


There are lots of myths concerning the $150-to-$300 Chromebooks. You will hear people say (or write online) “Chromebooks are just a browser” or “Chromebooks don’t work offline” or “Chromebooks don’t perform many tasks” or “Chromebooks aren’t secure” or similar nonsense. Lenovo has a video that dispels those myths.

Manufacturer Refurbished Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA

c100pI have written often about Chromebooks. They are excellent low-cost laptop computers that do most of the tasks that most computer users want, although they cannot match the power of the laptops that cost five or ten times as much. You can see my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at: https://goo.gl/9yDkl2.

Now StackSocial has the Asus Flip C100PA Chromebook on sale for $199.99. That price includes shipping. I have an Asus Flip C100PA and love it. The 2-pound laptop with 9-hours battery life has become my primary traveling laptop. However, I had to pay more than today’s price of $199.99 when I purchased it more than a year ago.

Barnes & Noble $49.99 7″ Nook Tablet

This should be a great gift to gift under the Christmas tree: Barnes & Noble has announced that its new Nook Tablet 7″ will be available on December 9, 2016 and will sell for $49.99. This 7-inch tablet computer should be able to run any Android genealogy app. (See https://goo.gl/gD281U for a list of all the available genealogy apps for Android devices.)


The tablet is a plain-vanilla Android Marshmallow device that will come pre-loaded with Android Nook software and the usual suite of Google Play apps, including the Google Play Store. Unlike its low-cost competitor, the $50 Amazon Fire, the new Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet runs standard, plain-vanilla Android, with Google’s own Play Store built right in.

An Acer Chromebook for $109.99


UPDATE: The sale has ended.

I have written often about Chromebooks. (See https://goo.gl/9yDkl2 for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.) I recently used my Chromebook daily on a trip to New Zealand and to Singapore to write articles for this newsletter, send and receive email messages, surf the Web, and I might admit to playing a few computer games as well. I find I am using my Chromebook more and more these days and my “big” laptop less and less. While the Chromebook isn’t as powerful as my more expensive laptop, I prefer its convenience. It boots up in seconds, never gets viruses, and everything is fully backed up in the cloud within seconds after I create or save something new.

Chromebook prices are getting insane. Now Groupon is selling a refurbished Acer Chromebook 15.6” Laptop for only $109.99 at https://goo.gl/SziahF.

Beware the Flash Drive Scam

Did you see an advertisement for a flash drive with 1 terabyte of memory or some other large amount of storage selling for about $10? If so, don’t fall for the scam. It isn’t what it claims it is.

Hackers in China are listing flash drives for sale on eBay and elsewhere claiming the drives contain huge amounts of storage, 500 gigabytes, one terabyte, or even more. Prices are unbelievably low, typically $10 or so. There is but one problem: it is fake.

A Chromebook that will Soon Run Android Apps for $159

UPDATE: The sale on this Chromebook appears to have ended and it now has reverted to the normal price of  $205.99.

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptops that perform all the more common tasks that most computer users want. In fact, I just spent about two hours using my Chromebook to write an article for this newsletter. You can find my past articles about Chromebooks by starting at http://goo.gl/1qwGzO.

ASUS C201 Chromebook

Now Amazon is selling one of the more popular Chromebooks, the the 11.6-inch ASUS C201 Chromebook, for just $159, a savings of $40. Best of all, the ASUS C201 Chromebook features 4 gigabytes of RAM memory, not 2 gigabytes as found in most other low-cost Chromebooks. The extra memory will make a significant difference when running Android apps when Google releases the update later this year. Strangely, this pricing is only available on the blue model, though you can get the others at a lesser discount as well.

Chromebooks are Built to Run Anything and Everything on the Web

I have written often about Chromebooks. (See https://goo.gl/AAaOZr for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.) One of the most common questions asked by readers after those articles is, “Will a Chromebook run my favorite genealogy program?” In most cases, the answer is “No.”

Chromebooks will run a lot of programs when offline (see http://goo.gl/8pr4dd for Everything You Can Do Offline With a Chromebook by David Nield). However, all Chromebooks are really intended for use when connected to the Internet. A Chromebook will run applications hosted on web sites, including MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, Werelate.org, WikiTree.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building, WebTrees, as well as non-genealogy apps such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, thousands of online games, and most email services.

Jerry Hildenbrand has published Should You Buy a Chromebook at http://www.androidcentral.com/should-you-buy-chromebook. He writes:

A Windows Laptop for $149.99

I have written a number of times about low-cost Windows and Chromebook laptops. (To find my earilier articles, go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+%22cheap+laptop%22+OR+chromebook&t=hb&ia=web.) As a follow-up article, I will point out a bargain being offered today by BestBuy in the US: a 2.2 pound Lenovo Ideapad 100s 11.6-inch laptop with Windows 10 Home for $149.99 plus your local state’s sales tax, if any. My local BestBuy doesn’t have them in stock but can order one and deliver it within a few days with free shipping. Another option is to order it yourself online, bypassing the local store entirely.

Lenovo Ideapad 100s$149.99 is an attractive price for a laptop but Lenovo sells them for only ten dollars more: $159.99. (See http://goo.gl/4Zn4Jj.)

To be sure, the Lenovo Ideapad 100s will never be described as a powerhouse. You probably won’t want to use it as your only computer, unless perhaps you are under the age of 15. However, as a second computer that will only be used for occasional trips outside the home, such as to a local genealogy library or archive, it should be more than “good enough.”

A $199 Windows 10 2-in-1 Computer

UPDATE: The below article was written when the Acer Switch One 10 laptop was first announced, before it was available for sale from merchants. The laptop is now available from a number of vendors. Two newsletter readers have reported buying an Acer Switch One 10 laptop from Amazon at http://goo.gl/YDSOcG.

I have written a number of times about Chromebook laptops. (See https://goo.gl/EjXA0n for my past Chromebook articles.) I love my Chromebook and use it often. I am enthused about Chromebook systems because they are low-priced and perform most of the functions that computer owners desire— checking email, surfing the web, playing games, spending time on Facebook, and, oh yes, reading the latest news in a certain genealogy newsletter. However, a new laptop from Acer may cause me to change my mind about low-cost laptops.


Acer’s Switch One 10 is a Windows 10 laptop that will go on sale next month. It will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249, but most discount retailers are expected to sell it for $199, plus or minus a bit. That’s a great price for a Windows 10 computer that will run any modern Windows genealogy program, including Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Heredis, and others.

You Shouldn’t Spend More than $300 on a Computer

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers designed primarily for use with the cloud. (See https://goo.gl/AAaOZr for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.)

Asus Flip-1Last year I purchased an ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2 in 1 Touchscreen Chromebook and it has become my primary traveling computer. I paid more for it when it was new but I see the price for it has dropped to $249.99 on Amazon and that includes 100 gigabytes of FREE storage on Google Drive and UNLIMITED music from Google Play Music. (See https://goo.gl/0dT4uG for the details.)

This 2-pound computer includes a “flip screen” so that it can be used either as a laptop or as a tablet. It boots up almost instantly, never gets a virus, and the battery lasts 8 to 10 hours on a single charge.

Another Reason Why a Genealogist Might Want to Buy a Chromebook

Acer_ChromebookI have written a number of times (see https://goo.gl/TsSWQ5 to find my earlier articles) about Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers that boot up quickly, are simple to use, never get viruses, and perform the computer tasks that many computer owners want.

Chromebooks also have a long-life battery life. A Chromebook does not slow down over time and there are no long boot times — just flip it open and get busy doing anything other than waiting.

Because Chromebooks safely and securely store almost all data in the cloud, nothing is lost if you break or lose a Chromebook. It’s all in the cloud, no matter what. As a result, a thief can steal your Chromebook but will not gain access to any of your personal information or documents. And because the technical requirements for running Chrome apps are so low, you still get reasonable performance, even from a sub-$200 laptop.

One of the weaknesses of Chromebooks has been the lack of good genealogy apps. That is now changing.