For every promising concept we see, there's one that gets scrapped before ever making it to market. That's what happened with Acer's "Extend" dock, an accessory that would have allowed you to connect your smartphone to a clamshell-style dock with a display, keyboard and a spare battery to recharge your handset. Turns out, lots of people already carry laptops, and don't necessarily need to transform their phones into a de facto tablet or netbook. What they do need, though, is to move stuff on and off their phone, or pick up on their PC where they left off on their handset.
Acer Extend hands-on at Computex 2014
Enter Acer -- again. The company has totally re-thought its Extend concept, so that rather than use a dock, you just have to install an app on your Windows PC, allowing you to control the phone. To connect your phone, you can either use a standard USB cable, or connect wirelessly, assuming your PC and phone are on the same network. Once your phone's home screen appears in a phone-shaped emulator box, you can do things like drag and drop files on and off the devices. You can also, say, share a YouTube video on your phone to Acer Extend, and have it open in whatever your default browser is. Ditto for other kinds of content, like PDF files and Microsoft Office documents. If you were desperate, you could also potentially use this to bypass your company's VPN, and access blocked sites over 3G.
In the demo we saw here at Computex, the emulator ran consistently smoothly. Acer says this isn't an accident: It's aiming for frame rates of at least 24 fps for each device. The catch, though, is that the performance here depends partly on the phone, and apparently not every device is up to snuff. To meet that 24-fps minimum, then, Acer is only releasing the app for some of its phones -- namely, flagships and some mid-range devices. So if you happen to be the lucky (?) owner of a Liquid E2, you're going to be left out on this one.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.