Tablets are great devices for reading content, but they often fall short when used for inputting content. A new Android computer – CloudGate – is designed to bridge this gap as it uses a keyboard, mouse and external screen and costs less than many PCs.
CloudGate, the new computer from Cloudware Technologies (a MICROmega company), combines the simplicity of the Android operating system with the creative tools of the traditional desktop to create what Cloudware’s MD Brian Timperley calls “a powerful new hybrid device that invites people to create, not just consume”.
Tablets and smartphones are fantastic ‚Äòread’ devices, but they’re less capable as ‚Äòwrite’ tools,” says Timperley. “They’re primarily about consuming stuff that other people have created, whether it’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, an e-mail or a magazine article. But if you want to create anything more significant than an Instagram photo or a Facebook post, the touchscreen interface can be a limitation.
CloudGate uses the same Android operating system as smartphones and tablets, but with an external screen, mouse and keyboard. “That makes it far more than an entertainment tool,” says Timperley. “A CloudGate can do anything the typical home computer can do, whether it’s working from home, enjoying games and entertainment, or completing school projects — and it can do it all at a price that makes it affordable to far more people than traditional desktop computers.
“We’ve learned from our early users that most people find the touchscreen interface tricky to use for editing a spreadsheet or writing anything that’s longer than a couple of sentences,” adds Timperley. “They love being able to use a mouse and keyboard with an Android interface.
Users also love being able to use bigger screens, says Timperley. “We put up with the small screen on tablets and phones because that’s the price we pay for portability. But adding a big-screen experience to the low price and ease of use that comes with Android is proving to be a hit with our users.
As well as being easy to use, says Timperley, CloudGate is also more secure than desktop computers as we know them. “The age of keeping everything on your own hard drive is over,” he says. “Nowadays we keep our email on the web using Gmail or Yahoo and our documents in Dropbox or Google Drive, so hard drive failures aren’t an issue. Nor are viruses: In the unlikely event that your machine is infected with a virus, just reset it to factory settings. The virus is wiped out, and your data is still safely stored in the cloud.
At just R2000, Timperley says CloudGate is affordable for many families who wouldn’t otherwise consider buying a computer. “We believe the educational benefits alone are potentially huge,” he says: “there are thousands of educational apps in the Google Play store, and many of them are free.
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