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Clockwise, from top left: Palm Foleo, Motorola Atrix with Lapdock, Samsung Dex and Microsoft's Continuum

One of the more interesting accessories that Samsung introduced alongside its Galaxy S8 is something called the Dex — a small docking station that turns the new smartphone into a computer by connecting it to a monitor and keyboard. When plugged into display, Dex is capable of running multiple apps, including mobile versions of Office in resizable windows. But while it can render desktop pages in its browser, it can't do Flash.

Why it matters: While it makes theoretical sense to have a single device that can be a smartphone and then turn into a full-fledged computer as needed. In practice, such efforts have rarely been enough of a computer for those that really need one. If anyone ever gets it right, they could grab a nice chunk of the phone and computer market.

Some of the other devices that have tried:

  1. Palm Foleo (2007) - never shippedOn introducing it, Palm and Treo creator Jeff Hawkins called it the best idea he'd ever had. But the device, which turned a Treo into a computer, was canceled before it ever shipped.
  2. Motorola Atrix with Lapdock (2011) - very limited appealMotorola was the first to try the phone/laptop combo in the era of the modern smartphone, introducing the lapdock accessory alongside the Motorola Atrix, one of the early 4G phones. As others before and after it, the main issue was the fact that it couldn't really replace a PC in terms of either the breadth of software or performance.
  3. Microsoft Continuum (2015-present) - yet to prove itselfThis one is actually still around, but you need a Windows Phone to use it. With Windows 10, Microsoft opened the door for phones to become a Windows PC just by plugging the phone into a mouse and keyboard. The catch here is only new-style apps built for Windows 8 or later would run. And you had to use a Windows Phone.

Go deeper

New report hits DOJ over lack of police shooting data

Demonstrations followed the shooting of Dijon Kizzee by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies in 2020. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A new government accountability report says the Department of Justice failed to consistently publish an annual summary of police excessive force data from 2016 to 2020, as required by federal law.

Why it matters: The data is crucial for the DOJ to monitor excessive force cases, and used to investigate law enforcement agencies with patterns of abuse. The DOJ can pivot off it to pursue court action to force reforms.

19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House will vote Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.