These days, smartphones are almost glued to our hands. We use them to catch up on our favorite TV show, check the stock, news, watch Youtube videos, do our shopping and the list goes on.
Our smartphones took over our lives and we kinda like it this way. They’re comfortable, can replace a laptop if need be, you can even game on them, and let’s not forget, they’re a productivity tool when the need arises.
On the other hand, a smartphone has its limitations, and sometimes you need some of the comfort only a PC or a laptop offers you, especially the accessibility. Otherwise, we find ourselves going cross-eyed by squinting at the small screen, wishing for some other form of interaction with the device. Fear no more, here are five widely available gadgets that can turn your smartphone into a desktop experience without breaking the bank.
Chromecast or any casting dongle compatible with your smartphone
Before we begin, we need to address the elephant in the room. Right now, some manufacturers offer a desktop experience from the box, and in some cases, all you need is a TV with a cast option to turn your smartphone into a desktop. That being said, the casting option comes with some caveats, like latency and loss of signal.
On the other hand, any Chromecast or casting device, like Roku, or a Miracast stick, can wirelessly send a signal to your TV or monitor and make the experience wire-free. That is the reason some users choose to trade off signal strength for a broadcast option. It is that comfortable, and you can always leave the room without the need to unplug your device. All you need to do is either use your cast option from the dropdown menu or use a casting app of your choosing, connect to the dongle and get ready to go.
Manufacturers like Huawei or Samsung offer a desktop mode for example, and you can fully utilize the function paired with a casting dongle, which makes for a more accessible experience, especially when you are on the go and you want to connect to the hotel TV and not pay some bogus bill just to watch a movie.
External storage or a card reader
A hard drive or a USB Type-C card reader is more of a solution for those of you who only want a multimedia experience and don’t really factor in productivity.
If you want to cast your movies on a big screen and the storage from your phone is not enough, external storage is the way to go.
Some hard drives even offer a wireless connection via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. All you need to do is turn on your wireless connection, connect to your phone, and you’re ready to go.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the small USB Type-C card reader, the cheapest way to go by the way. In some cases, getting an SD-Card and packing it to the brim with movies and music is the simplest solution and the safest, for those of you who want to keep the data secure from the hands of shady hackers.
Get a USB-Type C multiport HUB
If your smartphone has a USB-Type C port, you are now the proud owner of an all in one output solution. The Type-C port is not some fancy new way of charging your smartphone, it comes with several bells and whistles like the fact that you can connect a USB-Type C multiport HUB.
You can get video and audio output through HDMI and the defunct headphone jack, more USB 3.0 ports for all your peripheral needs, a card reader, even a gigabit ethernet port in some cases so you don’t eat up all your data plan.
The hub can go hand in hand with a wireless and wired solution, and it can expand the functionality of your smartphone, allowing the user to connect more devices and gadgets, going beyond the normal screen interface that most smartphones propose.
Here are a few of our recommendations for your hub needs:
A mouse and a keyboard
Most Android smartphones have native support for mouse and keyboard, and you can connect them to the phone using the aforementioned USB-Type C multiport HUB or a wireless connection like Bluetooth. If your phone is using Bluetooth 4.0 you can even connect multiple devices, but it can run hot sometimes and some connections can get tangled.
Some manufacturers offer an all in one solution that allows multiple connections at one time. You can get a keyboard with a trackpad with Bluetooth, connect it to your smartphone, and expand the functionality even further. It’s all up to you and the budget you have, considering that a setup like this is mostly used outside the house, and the portability factor of the mouse and keyboard makes all the difference.
Even if portability is not a factor, and you want your clicky keyboard and your high-end mouse with the performance sensor that gives you more control, you can go with this combo. Some companies even offer a bundle, in which you get a power bank, cables, a foldable keyboard, a touch pen, and a mouse. As we previously stated, it’s all up to you and your budget.
Here are a few of our recommendations for your mouse and keyboard needs:
A good smartphone stand
We can’t stress the importance of a good stand to use in conjunction with your smartphone in desktop mode. This small gadget changes the way you interact with the device, and you can even get some advanced functions from it like a wireless charger or the previously mentioned dock in some cases.
If you go for a traditional non-charge option, take into consideration the weight and length of your smartphone, and try to get a stand that has suction cups or adhesive rubber feet, even some clamps, for a more secure fit.
The weight and length rule goes for the wireless stand also, but here you have to consider what kind of smart stand you want. Wireless charging is a must in this case, but you can also get some other options, like speakers, lights, or cooling, depending on your needs. If you go for a Smart Hub you can maybe bypass the need for a dongle and a charger, making the experience seamless. Samsung offers DeX dock, for example, that has all the connection needed to transform your phone into a desktop experience and goes for a plug and play approach.
Here are a few of our recommendations for your stand needs:
Honorable mention: Touch Pen
If you are an artist or you like to do some modeling on your smartphone, you might want to get a touch pen. These inexpensive devices can be found anywhere and they can provide an upgrade over the finger-on-the-screen approach when it comes to drawing or modeling.
When used with a larger screen, the user can go into greater detail and fine-tune projects on the phone that required a move to a PC in the past. On top of that, it is a great way to keep your phone clean, since you’ll seldom touch it with your fingers. In these times, a small gadget like this can help you out in more ways than one.
Here are a few of our recommendations/picks for your Touch Pen needs:
Regardless of your gadget choice, our recommendation is to check the ratings, see some reviews of the device, and try not to buy into the marketing hype.
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