Acer has just unveiled one of the first smartphones that can serve double duty as a desktop PC. Just attach the phone to a desktop docking station and you can run apps on a big screen using a mouse and keyboard. Pick up the phone and you’ve got a mobile, touch-friendly user interface.

The Acer Jade Primo will ship with Windows 10 software, and it’ll be one of the first phones to use Microsoft’s Continuum for Phone software that enables seamless transition from mobile to desktop modes.

acer jade primo_03

The phone features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, a 5.5 inch AMOLED display, a 21MP rear camera, and an 8MP front-facing camera.

It’ll ship with a docking station, wireless mouse, and keyboard.

In a demo at the company’s IFA press conference in Berlin, Asus showed Continuum in action. Connect the phone to a dock and you can view a Windows desktop and start menu-style environment on an external display. Using a mouse and keyboard, you can open apps including Outlook, Excel, and Maps. Disconnect the phone, and the external display goes dark, but you can run mobile versions of the same apps on the phone itself.

Keep in mind that while you can run Universal Windows Apps on a device like this, legacy Windows apps designed for x86 processors won’t run unless they’ve been converted to Universal Windows Apps that will work on devices with ARM-based processors.

Microsoft is also said to be working on its own smartphones that support Continuum, but the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL haven’t officially been announced yet.

Acer hasn’t revealed a price, release date, or regional availability of the Jade Primo yet. The company only recently started selling its phones in the United States, and most of the models available in the US are entry-level phones. So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Jade Primo to arrive in the States. But I also wouldn’t be shocked if it does arrive.

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21 replies on “Acer Jade Primo: Smartphone becomes a PC with Windows 10 Continuum”

  1. Surprised it isn’t an Intel chip inside. You points about it being ARM and running only universal apps makes it completely uninteresting to me.
    It is a neat idea overall but when I think about how/when I’d actually use it I come up with a shrug. The only real benefit would be to gain the added real estate of a monitor/keyboard/mouse at some point in my travels. But this only works if screens/mice/keyboards are readily available in my travels AND if I have a very convenient and portable accessory to carry so I can attach to them.
    The only place I can come up with that it might be useful with those constraints in mind is perhaps a hotel business center. And even at that the question of the easily portable connection cable is unanswered.

    1. For those making use of Continuum, they’ll sell a universal docking station… All the plugs would be provided by the dock.

      While, Continuum also works wirelessly via Miracast, etc. and you could opt to use the phone screen as a touch pad, but the main advantage they’ll be selling is that you can use the phone as a phone at the same time as you’re using it for the WinRT desktop with Universal Apps like all the new Mobile Office Apps… It’s not either/or like previous solutions…

      So you can take a call while working in Word, Outlook, etc. or let your kid kill time with a mobile app while you work on the desktop mode, etc.

      The universal apps also means you can continue to work on the go, on the phone, and not limited to only what you can do while docked…

      Main issue is there aren’t a lot of Universal apps yet besides MS’s own Mobile Office apps… So full potential won’t be seen until developers get behind the platform and start releasing some killer apps but MS made a lot of changes that should help make that happen, though it may require some more changes before it can really take off…

      So, it’s a bit of a early adopter product for now…

      1. I could see a similar technology being in use a few years from now. Right now I don’t see it as mobile sill lacks something in computing power comparatively and you have a chicken & egg problem with the infrastructure of monitors/keyboards/etc sitting out in the world conveniently waiting to be used.
        Right now I’m not interested in hauling a docking device around especially with the limited use I could actually get out of it.
        Meanwhile laptops keep getting thinner and lighter with longer battery life. And I can use that on a train or plane or in a hotel room or coffee shop. None of those places have monitors/keyboards/etc waiting to be used with my phone.
        Neat idea. Not really practically solving any issues right now though.
        I agree it’s an early adopter thing.

        1. Well, some signs from IFA 2015 seems to show they’re working on some things already… Like we may see laptop docks for these phones, similar to the previous Motorola Atrix lapdock but much cheaper/practical, with the promise of even longer run times and lighter designs, and if developers start porting apps from Android and iOS it should at least be as useful as a Chromebooks…

          They’re also working on the infrastructure, with one of the first things out being a mobile app for your Windows 10 PC that lets it easily work with a smart phone… iOS and Android devices can just download a app to make it work and W10 Mobile phones work as is…

          Features include auto syncing with OneDrive for things like any photos you take with the phone can be viewed and edited on the PC because it’s synced to the same OneDrive account… appointments made to the calendar app will provide notification on both the phone and your PC… you can use Cortana on both the phone and the PC… Work done with the Universal apps can be continued on the PC, which can run the same apps…

          The Continuum mode means you can use the same keyboard commands as you would use on the regular desktop and the remote desktop app can easily turn the phone into a thin client as a alternative until more Universal Apps come out… The phone screen can be used as a touch pad and virtual keyboard for at least those times you only want to use a larger monitor, like watching a movie, etc. that can be done and still use your phone for texting, making calls, etc. at the same time…

          So, while still early adopter territory it’s not all that bad out of the proverbial box… We’ll just have to wait and see whether and how fast it’ll progress from these early steps…

          It’ll just appeal more to people looking to replace their tablets more than their work PC’s for now… but as soon as two years from now that could change… Just in time for 10nm FABs and much more powerful mobile hardware to then make it really interesting…

          1. To me it has some nifty ideas on paper the practicality isn’t there. Most of the described benefits are negated by widespread cloud syncing. It’s not that much of a benefit to use the same device in multiple places because it’s already easy to have my files synced and available on multiple devices.
            And I suppose you could watch movies on your TV or something but I already have a Chromecast which does that well enough.
            And still – the ability to hook up to monitors and keyboards on the go is only helpful if the world is full of monitors and keyboards out there in place for me to hook up to. They aren’t there.
            Even in a large urban center like NYC I wouldn’t put money on finding a coffee shop or similar which has monitors and keyboards waiting to hook your continuum capable phone to.

          2. Actually, it’s not that hard to find cyber cafe, etc in New York with public access computers you can borrow the peripherals from… Just not as easy to get them to let you but it’s really easy to purchase a keyboard and mouse from just about anywhere in the city… Regardless, you seem to be over emphasizing the potential negatives a bit…

            One of the reasons people get Phablets, for example, is because they don’t want to carry both a phone and a tablet. So even if this doesn’t appeal enough to users who would need a full PC/laptop it’s a definite appealing option to people who would otherwise carry a tablet with keyboard and mouse on the go and would stay in one spot to work anyway…

            Pretty much everyone would still carry a phone regardless and carrying your own peripherals for mobile devices is generally easier than carrying around a laptop… There are even peripherals you could keep in your pockets… Even the dock is less than half the size of the phone and that barely makes it any harder to carry than most mobile chargers… never mind the accessories most people carry for their laptops…

            Continuum also provides more benefits than merely syncing your data… like using the exact same app on your phone also on your desktop/laptop because the Universal apps are Universal and not just for the phones and tablets, along with working with the OS on multiple levels and thus not just sharing data… not requiring users to learn how to use a different UI as Continuum replicates the Start Menu, the basic desktop, how you can alt tab between apps/open windows, snap view, mouse clicks and keyboard commands/key combinations are all the same as the actual desktop…

            While a laptop dock would pretty much negate most of your criticisms, except for performance and heavier work usage, countered by being a cheaper solution, provides longer run times, and the laptop dock is a heck of a lot easier to replace than a actual PC laptop.

            For people who don’t need much and would otherwise have to use a compromised solution, like carrying both a phone and tablet, or even a phone, tablet, and laptop… it can still be the less annoying, and less expensive, solution with potential benefits in the future as the platform develops over time and can offer more…

          3. Yes, computer do exist in those spaces. But, as you say, the owners won’t normally be happy about you climbing around the back of them plugging and unplugging stuff.
            Having a laptop or tablet with you still allows uses in a myriad of setting where those computers don’t exist – so you can’t even try to argue with the owner to let you use them in this way. Airplanes, hotel rooms, trains, etc…
            I think the part about not having to learn multiple desktops is just crazy talk. I’m sorry. This isn’t an actual problem people are having which needs to be solved. Not a problem anyone using one of these things is solving anyway.
            I get the dock and using one system here, there, and everywhere. I used to do exactly that back in the day with an HP TC4200 hybrid laptop-tablet computer. Carried it about all day to take notes and then plopped it down on my desk dock when I got home to use it as a desktop. But that was a decade ago – more or less. The benefits of doing that are almost entirely negated by the ubiquity of the internet and the ability of so many systems/platforms/apps to sync data.
            I would not spend the money to do it today at all.
            Also the more I read about this it isn’t providing a full Windows desktop at all. It is more like WIndows RT. No thank you.
            I think it’s nifty viewed from the geek inside me. But the pragmatist inside me sees no real use for this for most people today. It’s more gimmick than actual solution for real problems people are having.

          4. Having a laptop or tablet with you still allows uses in a myriad of
            setting where those computers don’t exist – so you can’t even try to
            argue with the owner to let you use them in this way. Airplanes, hotel
            rooms, trains, etc…

            Actually, I have… people understand the need for privacy and adapting your own device for your needs while traveling. It’s just not consistent in expecting cooperation of that sort but it does help if you’re a regular and thus they know you… Though, if you can find a computer/audio rental center then that’s a different matter and you can fairly easy make a deal to rent just what you need…

            While also, if you’re on business or going to a school, etc then those peripherals would be available in many places for your needs…

            Regardless, it doesn’t change that the peripherals can be commonly found just about anywhere you go these days and even if you don’t think you can borrow or rent the peripherals you can bring everything you need, as a lot of people already do, but with the benefit of less to worry about, cheaper total expenses, and probably easier to carry than present solutions that force most people to carry multiple devices to fill all needs.

            The only thing I would agree with you on is it presently is more like RT… Though, it won’t remain so if developers get behind it because RT was locked down but this platform isn’t and allows porting of just about everything and even side loading of certain apps because it’s not limited to just strictly WinRT apps and many elements of the OS is different, like .NET is now Open Source…

            So the comparison is only that it’s starting out limited due to the lack of apps and present support, but again that’s part of being early adopters of the platform.

            While there’s such a thing as being overly pragmatist to the point of not even seeing the early benefits this could offer… Thing to realize is people are always compromising with mobile… So the real question you should be asking yourself is whether this offers a more convenient compromise or not and for some users I’d say it definitely does…

            It’s just for those who don’t fit that niche that they should probably wait but don’t write off the platform with how it is now because they’re far from done with it…

          5. My understanding is this uses Universal apps only. That is – apps through the MS store. This is not open as I understand it. Your apps need to be vetted to be published there and meet certain criteria. Also Redmond takes a healthy cut on any purchase price for the app. They leave that part out when they talk about how great it will be and how developers will certainly all jump on board. I wouldn’t if I were a Windows developer.
            I’m sorry i just don’t see the ubiquity of peripherals in the world you do. Yes, if you are a common customer of a very nice hotel then they would provide these for you most likely upon request. That is a pretty small niche of people compared to the wide world of usage that goes on.
            And yes school have computer labs and stuff. But again you are not going to find happy faces when you start climbing behind the screens and plugging and unplugging stuff.
            And honestly why would you? Again, today there are many choices for working online or syncing files online. The benefit is really minimal to docking one device to peripherals everywhere you go. And security certainly isn’t served in the slightest if you are going to use public keyboards.
            And I’m pretty sure you’ve thrown convenience completely out the window (no put intended) when you start talking about finding a rental store and hauling a monitor and stuff back to your hotel and then returning it before you leave.
            Meanwhile laptops are getting better, lighter, cheaper (for the quality) all the time.
            One day I do expect that some mobile device will be what people have (watch, phone, implant chip ??) and that screens and perhaps other input devices will be common out in the world for people to hook up to maybe. But that’s a bit more sci-fi and probably a decade out or more. Maybe this is the first step and MS will be the big face behind all that. I don’t actually think so though.

          6. Continuum, itself, extends beyond just the mobile to also include the desktop… but yes, for Windows 10 Mobile (which replaces Windows Phone OS) it will only run Universal apps in Continuum mode, because those are the only apps that support that mode!

            The phone itself can run more but apps made for the phone and don’t take advantage of the flexible form factor adjustments possible with Universal Apps will of course be stuck in phone form factor that they were designed for, but you can still use them on a external screen, just like you can with Android… It just won’t be in Continuum mode.

            So, previous WP8.1 Apps and ported Android and iOS apps will only run on the phone and not in the Continuum desktop mode…

            As for the healthy cut, again that’s par the course when dealing with a App Store but the developers gain benefits from this as already posted previously as the App Store is a service that benefits both the customers and the developers.

            Besides, there’s always ways around it… like giving a app for free (they can’t get a percentage from zero) and get paid via in app purchases, ad revenue, customer donations, etc.

            So, aside from bemoaning what’s pretty much standard everywhere else these days there really isn’t a reason to denounce this out of hand…

            And no, you obviously haven’t had to really deal with being mobile these days and all the accessories you end up having to carry with you already… No matter what you think, this solution does end up with users, who’s needs fits what this can do, having to lug around less than they normally would.

            Also, things like PC rental centers are pretty common… like renting cars, especially for business travelers!

            While for big sci-fi like advances… Their Holo Lens pretty much fits the bill, but is probably still a few years away from general consumer range and will first target businesses.

          7. I’m not sure I follow your initial paragraphs about continuum and what it support as opposed to what the new mobile OS supports. Is that on the desktop side continuum could support native desktop apps if only the client (phone in this case) side supported it?
            If so it really isn’t too germane at this point since the new mobile OS is the only client in the world. Whichever side the limit rests with the limit still exists in practical usage.
            It’s true that the store gives benefits and also true that other app stores also charge well for their cut. However here we are talking about luring app developers from the traditional desktop, which takes no cut at all and demands no review by Redmond in order to publish for it.
            I agree with you that developers coming from iOS or Android suffer no more under MS Universal App store than they with Apple or Google. However the point is that traditional desktop app devs suffer a good deal. Giving away apps does not help them. And I’m sure Redmond takes a cut of in-app purchases just as iOS and Android do.
            So again – yes some benefits as Redmond lays out. My point was only that there are also some very real costs which Redmond never likes to mention.
            I’m aware of the existence of rental places. But again they aren’t going to do you any good at all on an airplane or sitting an airport or on a train, etc… And again, having to retrieve and return the equipment makes it far too much hassle unless your stay is for an extended period. I’d venture the very large bulk of business users are in fact just using laptops which they carry with them.

          8. Is that on the desktop side continuum could support native desktop apps
            if only the client (phone in this case) side supported it?

            I’m saying that Continuum itself isn’t the limitations but rather what the system/device is optimized for… The mobile OS is optimized for mobile usage and thus its features and capabilities are scaled down to what works best on mobile devices…

            It’s like Internet of Things (IoT) devices running on Windows 10 IoT… for a IoT device like a toaster, vending machine, etc. It doesn’t make sense to put in everything you get from the full desktop because it’s overkill and can make it harder for the product to do its intended job by having bloat it doesn’t need…

            A mobile device similarly serves a specific role and isn’t intended to fully replace your work computer, especially with up to more than 6 times the performance difference between a mobile SoC and a desktop processor…

            For the full desktop there are no such device/form factor constrictions and thus Continuum allows the legacy desktops app to be ported to run under Universal Apps without the dev needing to fully convert it to a Universal App…

            Remember, we are talking about a phone here… Even with the best mobile SoCs it’s not capable of being a work horse like a desktop…

            While ARM still has the issues that running x86 apps means involving emulations, binary translation layers, etc. which all impact performance and make the performance difference between a mobile device and full PC device far more apparent and that’s not even counting desktop apps that require more performance than any mobile SoC can yet provide…

            Even Core M isn’t adequate for people expecting to do actual work with high performance requiring apps like CAD, Maya, Adobe Premiere, etc. and that’s more powerful than any ATOM or ARM SoC…

            So expectations have to be reasonable as to what they could actually offer yet and to realize the niche of users who wouldn’t care and want options even if they are extremely limited in usefulness is too small to be catered too… They know because they tried already with UMPC’s and similar products that all failed…

            While I also pointed out that you’re ignoring that products like this eventually develop a infrastructure to support them…

            Many conveniences we have now weren’t around before there was a product created that could make use of them…

            The laptop dock, for example can now be offered for as little as $80 and provides everything needed to use the Continuum mode on the go but weigh less than a pound and can have a battery that helps extend the use of the phone for even more productivity on the go… along with other examples I could point out where a phone that can provide even limited productivity can be an advantage… While still having all the same abilities and options as other Smart Phones… The point being this is a plus as long as you remember we’re talking about a phone and not viewing it like full PC in your pocket and assuming the present limitations on accessories will be a problem for very long…

          9. But the entire point of continuum is to be able to not be constricted to the size and input constrictions of a mobile device. It becomes a desktop when you plug it in and use it as a desktop. And so I would very much rather that it functioned as a full windows desktop and not as, essentially, an RT device.
            That the phone is less powerful isn’t necessarily the issue. At least not for everyone. Many things demand little of the a processor but benefit greatly from easier input and a larger screen.
            I do think the infrastructure will come in some form or another to allow that most people are using mobile devices and simply utilizing perhipheral screens and input devices as may be found around the general world in travel. I just don’t think it will happen immediately and I don’t think it will happen in response to this product form Microsoft or even from the very similar idea being worked on by Ubuntu.
            I think it will come when mobile processing power and battery life have plateaued to such a point that only niche users would ever need more on a desktop. This is probably some decade away or so at least.
            Surely I think there is no detriment in Windows phone having such a capability as continuum. I’m just saying that in considering it for myself it also offers no real practical value that it can do it. And I don’t think I’m alone there.

          10. But the entire point of continuum is to be able to not be constricted to the size and input constrictions of a mobile device.

            Which it does… but that doesn’t mean you’re going to turn a toaster into a super computer just because you want it to…

            The product does what it can with what it has to work with…

            While we’ll see whether or not people will see the value in it or not…

          11. You don’t need a super computer to make use of better human I/O. A word processor takes little computing power unless the document is massive. The same is true of spreadsheets. Both of these are extremely common work tasks and both benefit very well from desktop size screens and input devices compared to working on a phone.

          12. Sorry but what everyone is talking about is not a merely better human I/O because Continuum already provides that but what they mean by full desktop is by running full x86 legacy apps regardless of what the device is realistically capable of offering…

          13. There is no reason they could not use x86 processors in their phones – just ask Intel. However there are other solutions MS could have pursued.
            Your point, I thought, was that desktop class apps demand more power than current mobile SOCs can provide. A notion which I dispute generally speaking. Though of course you would not want to use one as a video production work station or the like.

          14. Your obviously not paying attention, phones are more limiting and x86 SoCs that can go into phones will still suffer from performance issues…

            The present Intel phone SoCs don’t even use GPUs that you can get full Windows drivers.

            It also doesn’t change that the full desktop isn’t something you can just shove into a desktop mode and would thus effect the entire operation of a phone device and unlike universal apps the desktop apps can’t be used in any form factor and that brings chaos that most users will not appreciate…

            Users have already voted with their wallets on what devices the legacy desktop can work and which don’t… This is part of the reason why there is a range now that mobile takes over from transitional desktop and vice versa and MS ultimately has to cater to what the majority want, which is something that just works instead of the users needing to adapt to the device…

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