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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

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.