Doctor Aaronson, Omaha, Nebraska's OTHER Oracle. Dr. Michael Aaronson is a kidney physician specializing in Nephrology and hypertension.
It's time to upgrade your smartphone. Here's a cost-effective way to convert your old cellphone into a desktop computer or laptop replacement -- without rooting the phone. My technique will show you how to have a device that can be used throughout the day in different settings to maximize productivity. I will show you how to take an old phone and convert it to a blockbuster personal computer. Enjoy!
The first point to realize is that you are no longer going to use your smartphone as a phone. So phone associated apps are not required. Before dropping my old Samsung Droid Charge in a bucket of beer, requiring removal of the power button to make it work, I was using the phone as though it were an iPhone, using many apps from the Google play store that I currently do not need. The solution was to remove the sim card from the back of the phone, reset the cell phone to the factory default to erase all of the previous data, and then activate the phone by bypassing Verizon's activation screen as is shown below.
Remove the sim card from your old phone. If your recycled phone doesn't come with a sim card, please go to the next step:
Restart the device. Choose Settings, then choose Privacy, then select Factory data reset. Select Reset Phone and Reset Everything:
After the phone reboots you have the option to select Emergency Call as shown:
Use the following workaround: dial
The phone will say: "soft key enabled." Press the Home key and we are in!
At this point I chose to connect to a wifi network and associate my Google account with my new portable. This way I could download some apps, setting up my new power user computer to my exact specifications.
Sidebar 1: possibly patented, possibly not, I submit the following idea to cellphone manufacturers: create an ethernet microconnection on future cell phones to allow for fast speeds. In addition to available wifi, this approach would guarantee connectivity with the internet after the "2-year cell phone contract" has ended. Marketed correctly, consumers would chose the phone that had this option because they would have piece of mind that they would have a working internet appliance long after they upgraded to a new smartphone.Our next step is to connect an HDMI cord to a TV monitor and a keyboard to the PC via bluetooth. Although the new connections for the Samsung Galaxy S3 are pricey as of now, the older cords are extremely reasonable.
Sidebar 2: there is much chatter about adding Ubuntu Linux to Android. My speculation is that the folks at Ubuntu have secretly partnered with Amazon to provide the Kindle with such functionality. The thinking is congruent with Ubuntu's illogical move to favor Amazon in their search results by default. Here is my perspective: at the end of the day, all of these systems are basically an extension of the Linux operating system, powered by the brain of Linus Torvalds. The main difference is that each approach has a different graphical user interface (GUI). The reason why Ubuntu never took off, relatively speaking, is that the Unity User interface sucks almost as bad as the customer service at the Verizon store near Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, NE. Disclosure: Dr. Aaronson uses Ubuntu Linux as his favored flavor of GNU Linux.
Moreover, even Froyo, the older Android operating system (OS) version that was used in these 2 year old phones, with the right apps and setup, can do everything most people need to do. This is the secret the companies who are trying to sell you a new device, or a Windows 8 tablet, don't want you to know.
Sidebar 3: no one ever said you couldn't connect the mobile smartphone you are currently using to a monitor and a bluetooth keyboard. Before you give tablet makers any money, consider this approach.
I purchased a Fosmon HDMI to Micro HDMI Cable (6 Feet) for the incredibly low price of $3.34.
Although marketed as an iPad bluetooth keyboard, if you Google search for "bk3001ba bluetooth" you might find a bluetooth keyboard for as low as $13.71.
Connect the keyboard to the Droid Charge via the bluetooth interface. Connect the HDMI cable from the cellphone to the HDMI input on the TV.
Some take home pearls of wisdom:
- I keep the phone plugged in so as to not run out of "juice."
- Change the Display Settings so that you can maximize your screen real estate.
- Select Settings, Display Settings, Auto-Rotate Screen
- Note that HDMI is not only visual but also audio. Netflix viewed via this method looks and sounds great. MORRISSEY sounds even better!
- You will notice that the phone screen mirrors the TV monitor display. I use the phone as a "mouse" to select things. With the Froyo version of Android, I find I need to have the phone turned slightly to the left -- pointing to 10-11 o'clock -- to accommodate for the lack of consistency of landscape versus portrait mode across multiple screens. This is not a big issue at all, but I believe in honesty, integrity, and full disclosure.
- If you prefer, you can purchase a Universal Stylus, so that
you are selecting with a "pointing device" rather than your
finger. I personally prefer the stylus.
I found the one pictured above available for $5.95.
- As we have discussed, the cellphone screen mirrors the TV monitor. That said, you can take what you are doing with you, on the go, without having to use another device, and without having to reboot, link to the cloud, etc. Just disconnect the HDMI connection. The time savings alone using this technique is worth the effort to make all of this happen!
- Finally, you likely have an Otterbox or other case from when
you used your cellphone as a phone. This feature adds to the
portability and decreases the likelihood that you will drop your
phone in the toilet or in a bucket of beer like I did!
The final product: the Verizon Samsung Droid Charge is used as a mouse with a universal stylus on the right. Sound and video are enjoyed via the TV monitor. Typing is fast and fun using the bluetooth keyboard shown on the left. Brilliant!
Did you know that you can use a bluetooth mouse if you wish? I took an Apple Mighty Mouse and paired it with the Droid Charge using the pin "0000" and it works like a charm!
So I basically took a phone that would have been thrown away, spent around $30 dollars, and converted it to a phenomenal desktop PC user experience!
Special thanks to MORRISSEY for rescheduling tour dates including additional cities. The Living Legend's 2013 North American Tour Dates can be found here.
If you are stuck in a contract and want to try my approach consider Ebay or one of your colleagues as a source of a low cost phone. Or you might consider "gifting" the setup to some student who might benefit from a computer but doesn't have the wherewithal to purchase one.
How might you benefit as a consumer? Consider the economics of supply and demand: if a million cell phones are converted to personal computers per day, it could be argued that a million Microsoft, Chromebook, and Apple computers are not purchased per day. In order to sell their product, because fewer people need a computer, the prices might come down.
My next blog will show you how to pick the right apps from the Google Play store to turn your cellphone into a server, surveillance camera, and more! I didn't believe it could be done, but it can. Stay tuned...
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