Travelling with Continuum: A verdict, and what I want next

That's the top line verdict from my own little experiment heading on an international trip and seeing how far you can get with your phone and a few accessories.

When you're away from the office, Continuum gives you a surprisingly good experience. That experience will still depend on what it is you want to get done, but assuming you're not getting too heavy you should be able to get by pretty well.

While travelling, I had both good and bad experiences, all down to the fact I wanted to see if I could pack a USB-C hub and utilise the televisions in the hotel rooms I was staying in. In one, no problem; in the other, no way.

NexDock

That's where the experience will always fall down if you ever plan to travel a lot and use continuum. A solution like Acer's Extend, the NexDock, or HP's suite of accessories for the Elite X3 will be the way to go.

At that point, though, you have to ask yourself where you benefit over just taking your laptop with you. If you have something small, like my Dell XPS 13 (opens in new tab), the question becomes tougher still because you're not travelling any lighter. That said, if you only use a desktop PC or some large, gaming notebook, it perhaps makes more sense.

What'd be the ideal outcome is if Continuum develops to such a level where you might not need to have a laptop at all. Packages like the Elite X3 are certainly geared towards this, but there's still work to be done on the software I think before that can become a reality. But I do think there could be a time where I could leave a full laptop at home.

HP Elite X3

So, what do I want to see next? The biggest thing I want right now from Continuum is being able to use more than one app on the screen at a time. I'm probably not alone there, either. Universal apps are fantastic, but there's never a situation where I just want to focus on one at once. An example: When I'm filling out expenses spreadsheets, I don't just want to see Excel. I need to see OneDrive where I record receipts, or my inbox. Just even being able to snap two apps would be a huge improvement. I'm sure it'll come eventually, and it'll make a big improvement.

I'd also like to see more hardware accessories, such as the 'dumb' laptop docks like NexDock. A Surface without the internal hardware, perhaps? Microsoft's partners getting involved and pumping out versions of their laptops without the computer hardware. It couldn't hurt to have more choices available.

But there's a lot of promise and I can particularly see how enterprise customers could go down this route. In my past life I carried a Lenovo ThinkPad and a phone and all I ever really used the laptop for was Excel, Word, looking at PDFs and using Outlook. A Continuum based solution for such a purpose would be much more cost effective.

If you've got your own Continuum experiences be sure to share them with us in the comments below!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

136 Comments
  • I could do so much more with Continuum if Edge were faster. I think ad block would make a huge difference. Glad to see someone else enjoying it. I'm traveling right now with my dock, & equipped with Remote Desktop, its a really neat tool.
  • If you get a compatible ethernet adapter, perhaps it will speed up edge overall. And yes, if the extensions DO come to mobile edge...all the better.
  • The problem also is that Edge tend to have memory leak issues on some sites and may crash, though this actually happens on the PC more often in my case. Stability and reliability are the biggest issues on Edge at the moment. Sent from Turing Machine
  • Nausky I didn't see your original comment before I posted mine. So you can run remote desktop on Continuum/W10M? I didn't know that was possible. Wow. How do you find the experience? Can you control all programs on your home PC via Continuum?
  • RDP works particularly well through Continuum. :-) Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Yes you can use remote desktop. And if you know teamviewer that one is available too as a universal app and can be used as on the desktop with exactly the same experience. It is great :). And of course as it is with these programs, you can run all the software installed on you desktop on it with no limitations.
  • Wow this is amazing. I'm now seriously considering the new HP Elite X3. So, if I get that device with the "Laptop" extender, I can in theory, be sat on my sofa with the laptop "extender" on my lap while remotely connected to my personal desktop PC in the office via remote app & continuun and use all my full programs such as Notepad++ and File Explorer. I know that would mean leaving my PC switched on but its totally worth it for such awesomeness.
  • Yep
  • Note that the version of RDP that supports Continuum is in preview and only runs on insider builds at the moment. Clearly this will be mainstream soon (Redstone?). Just don't be dissapointed if you go to the store and get the stock RDP app and find it doesn't work with Continuum.
  • That's not true. The remote desktop preview works also on .318 version on my phone (non insider). MB
  • You are right. I went to the store to see if I could get it for my production 950, and searched for Remote Desktop. the preview didn't show up. Added 'Preview' to the search and there it was. Nice. it does work quite well. I have even started up an Azure VM and loaded Office onto that VM all from my 950XL.    
  • Tried it a few times here and it was very usable.  Just purchased a BT folding keyboard to try and use it for real on a trip.
  • Intel's cancellation of Broxton having any impact on 'vision' ?
  • No, but Wanda Maximoff certainly did have.
  • Seems that Intel thingy is still don't ask don't tell at Windows Central..
  • Yep. Not sure who is making the editorial call...but it is CRAZY for a Windows tech website to ignore that news.
    They should stop churning out the irrelevant news, and instead give some insight into what the future holds for Intel
  • Sometimes they know stuff under NDA and can't just play the guessing, rumor, panic game.
  • You are saying that Windows Central is not journalistic blog / news outlet but contract PR bureau for MS? It would explain selective editorial policy yes. Lets add that fe Jason Ward has stated that no material compensation of any sorts been received from Redmond. Intel-gate is strange though.
  • No. You are saying that. I'm suggesting that they aren't in the business of gossiping about what might be. If their sources have them under NDA for something, I'd rather they wait and give the real scoop.
  • You can be a journalistic blog/news outlet and still get information under NDA. If you know something under NDA it is dangerous to promulgate rumors around that same subject. It would be silly to repeat what you know is false, and a violation of the NDA to confirm what is true. It's a tightrope for sites with a good relationship with MS.
  • How can one be journalist and under NDA? Embargo is normal but NDA? Does not compute..
  • I hope that Msft could one day make the display dock have a projector built-in. That way, it makes the requirement of having a separate screen optional. Just project Continuum mode on a wall or something. Also, maybe have the projector project both the screen and a keyboard at the same time, removing the need for a user to bring their keyboard along just for the sake of Continuum. Another feature, make the top-part of the display dock as a track pad when in Continuum mode maybe? By having these features, all a Continuum-ready phone user needs to pack for travelling are just their phone, the display dock, the cables, and their phone charger. Portable, compact, all in one light package. Just my opinion though.
  • That'd be ridiculously expensive to pull off, especially to make it seamless and if decent quality. It's certainly possible but I have no doubt the dock would cost $400 with all those features added. Windows Central for Windows 10-Microsoft Lumia 640
  • Why not build a Keyboard that is/includes continuum. So, you bring your phone, the keyboard, and a few cables. I like the NeoDock idea. It would be nice if that were a little more polished. The thing is... cables.
  • I really like your idea. A foldable keyboard with continuum capability would be next to nothing to carry. Bluetooth to the phone and Miracast to the hotel room TV or office center monitor and off to work you go.
  • There already exists a foldable keyboard with full windows. MS is working on an e-ink cover for the lumia which can be turned into a keyboard and touch pad.
  • I've seen keyboards with USB hubs built in. Adding Continuum version would be a no brainer.
  • Just plug the dock into a pico projector. Some of them are really small now and are even rechargeable with micro USB so don't need a separate power brick. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Has anybody tried magnification glasses on a 1080p 6inch smartphone? E.g 2x magnified? Would the user perceive a 12inch screen and therefore be more productive?
  • Why not build projector into the lumia phone? Avoid the need to carry two devices
  • Love the idea of using a pico-projector with Continuum at least. I believe I've even seen them with Miracast support. That could certainly work around the need to find an available monitor.
  • Continuum's really great and mind blowing. Nowadays I just carry my phone and a miracast receiver around and the work can be done wherever I get a TV.
  • And a keyboard...and a mouse...
    Add the weight of all those things together, and you may as well have just got a Surface 3
  • agreed tablet or a ultarbook is 100% better solution
  • For you. Not for me.
  • You know that the phone can be used as a touchpad and keyboard, right?
  • Which is terribly inefficent for actual work.
  • Com'on it ain't that bad. Is it a lesser experience to using a mouse and keyboard? Yes, but can you still get s*** done on the fly, using a larger display, and more fleshed out versions of your apps? Oh yes! I don't do a lot of work from home, but I use continuum religiously while sitting in my lazyboy at night, casting youtube videos to my TV, checking email, facebook, tinder, playing music, just goofing around. I've heard people say it is a solution to a problem no one was having, but after using it so many times, it is just too freakin cool to not use! Kinda the space the earliest iPhones held when they came out. No one thought that would be a practical device. It was a solution to a problem no one had.....
  • Good luck with that ;)
  • Without the possibility to leave behind whatever you do not want to take with you and as a solid device with a bigger size. This means you need a bag with that size and room within it. A surface is a nice device, but the flexibility is smaller in aspects of form factor. And you can not use it as a phone neighter... If you need to carry around a surface and a phone it looks differently again, especially if you have a foldable keyboard... Continuum is a very nice and great concept, which is especially nice for presentations just because everybody has seen tablets today, but a phone with these possibilities is new and cooler.
  • Microsoft's folding keyboard, Arc mouse, still smaller than the smallest Surface.
  • Surface 3 has a price point gap compared to buying a keyboard. Having the phone power the experience also keeps you with just a phone data plan. You have one license of software, like Office to deal with. You're not as reliant on the cloud to work. You can keep your most important stuff on one device. My offline Groove is there with no need to wait for another device to synch and download.
  • Not only that, but it would also be considerably better for your eyes than using a TV as a monitor.
  • I am surprised that no one has mentioned that you can actually use voice dictation on a mobile phone to get enter text into Word. I do not have Continuum on my phone, does anyone know if this works when using Continuum connected to a screen? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Touch and pen input on remote screen should be added
  • Touch is, in the latest builds. Haven't tried pen, but there aren't many (any?) UWP phone apps that support pen at this point, so it is hard to tell.
  • Touch said to be supported in the near future, though there's no news about Pen support unfortunately. I hope they just implement it altogether while at it. Sent from Turing Machine
  • One question, don't you have carry a keyboard and mouse and some cables or at the very least a keyboard? Sorry that does not sound all that practical to me....
  • I always travel with a mouse. And something like Microsoft's folding keyboard takes up no room
  • No. All you need is your phone and a way to connect to an external display at minimum. You could have a Lumia 950 and a $50 wireless display adapter. A stationary Continuum setup, like at my office, could consist of a monitor, keyboard, mouse and dock and you would just plug your phone to the dock when needed. You don't have to carry anything but your phone and a way to connect. If the place has a wired or wireless connection already, all you NEED is your phone. The Continuum app on the phone has a built in trackpad for the mouse and the touch keyboard for the keyboard so you factually don't "need" to carry those items, regardless of what some say. The amount of hardware you carry is up to you. For travel, I just take my usb flash drive sized wireless display adapter, plug it in to any HDMI display and there is my desktop environment.
  • Gaems lime of portable monitors could be a nice addition for this
  • Most people carry a laptop and a mouse, Continuum has an edge, only thing is to have some innovative brilliance which would combine all of them a Hologram generator.. may be...
  • Actually, no, you don't 'have' to. The phone can be used as a touch pad controlling the cursor on the screen, and will display a keyboard when that is needed. So you are still using the small phone UI, but get to see stuff on the larger display. The display can be accessed wirelessly, though that requires it to support Miracast in some form. So, with no wires at all, I can connect to my Miracast capable TV, and use the phone screen to drive. That's not how I prefer to use the capability, but it works.
  • For international travel, you could consider taking a HD pico projector, like Sony MPCL1, with you.  Where TV or monitor is not available, Sony MPCL1 comes handy.  For the size and weight of a L1520, you got yourself a mobile projector.  You do need a Display Dock to work well though.
  • With the pico projector, you could get away with just a USB-C to HDMI cable/dongle. Keyboard and mouse, if you chose, can be BT. With all that you are going to want to power the phone, so might be back at a dock. Doesn't have to be MSs though. Soon someone will make a USB-C to HDMI with USB-C power input that is pretty compact. Continuum on Windows Mobile isn't the only use for such a thing.
  • this will probably become the norm for most people some day, and you could always argue for the full fledged solution with dedicated hardware for every task, but then you realize you're the minority and it doesn't matter
  • I tried continuum at work a few weeks back to see what kind of experience I would get and I also took it on a trip and tried it out in the hotel room. I had mixed feelings about it. In many ways I was impressed. The office apps are well done and provided a good experience. I spent quite a bit of time in PowerPoint going through a presentation I had to deliver. It seems really slick for PowerPoint. My biggest complaint there was that I was tethered to the dock. It would be an awesome experience if I was free to roam with the phone. The phone let me change slides and see my notes, but being tethered sucks. I'm shocked that the dock Microsoft made does not have built-in Miracast functionality or some other WiFi/Bluetooth capability. As I said, I had mixed feelings. I was impressed with what it could do, but I didn't feel compelled to use it. It's not currently easier than (or beneficial over) using a small laptop. It is a young platform that is intriguing, but has a ways to go before it is compelling.
  • I actually tried it out connecting wirelessly to my smart TV and it worked pretty well of course the TV has to support it.
  • I think that's a good idea for the next version and at the same time I can see some redundancy/logistical issues right now...  You can just use miracast, assuming the tv/monitor has it built in, without having the dock for continuum. Or you can just get a portable miracast adaptor in the cases when you want to present with the phone and the tv/monitor doesn't have it built in. I do think it's becoming more of a trend that more modern monitors/tv will have it built in already, so it could eventually be redundant to have your phone which already has miracast built in to have a dock that would also include built in miracast ability.  However, miracast isn't perfect yet and there could be some lag depending on what you're doing/quality of the miracast hardware (doing a powerpoint presentatin shouldn't be an issue over miracast), which is why they have a wired dock where it elminates the lag and I think also increase the quality of the cast. Also the dock adds extra ports, which if you connect say a usb/hardrive I'm not sure how the phone can access it wirelessly? In general, I do agree that having no cords would be the best, but the user experience and technology also needs to be good enough. Thus I hope the next version can improve/expand on the whole continuum concept. 
  • I think the idea would be to have the dock have the Miracast receiver. That way you could connect the phone to the dock either with a cable, or via the Miracast transmitter built into the phone. The dock could still allow a cable keyboard and mouse, as that can be sent back to the phone wirelessly. You just wouldn't need the phone cabled if you didn't want to. In reality, a lot of this eats battery, so the cable has a function beyond video and USB hub.
  • I love that idea too to have Miracast support on the Dock. That way user have option to use Continuum wirelessly. But yeah, they seriously have to reduce the lag drastically. Microsoft maybe should step up and partner for next Miracast development to make increase the performance of wireless connection and optimize it further for Continuum. Sent from Turing Machine
  • Use a microsoft wireless display connector... This is much better than most other miracast adapters. I tested 4 different once and only the one of ms was lagfree (or at least that free that it did not bother me) and worked flawlessly with wifi direct and no problems with connecting, establishing and using it. I love it for presentations with my 950xl.
  • I would like to see being able to use continuum without a special dock.  All built into the phone, I feel this will happen, and when it does it will make the experience that much more mobile.
  • You pretty much can, just use USB c to hdmi adapter to a screen. The dock's real feature is a clean 'hub' of ports.
  • As mkenyon2 says, you can. You can do this via Miracast, not just a USB-C to HDMI dongle. The MS dock isn't 'prorietary' BTW. I have hooked a Dell XPS to the MS Dock and all the functionality is there. I've also used docks designed for the MacBook (single USB-C connector) with good results on the Lumia. These are standards based implementations, that are going to see a lot of options, as Continuum isn't the only use case for USB-C HDMI dongles, hubs, docks, etc, Heck I've even hooked an old USB to ethernet dongle to a USB-C to USB A adapter to my Lumia and run my Lumia off of Cat-5 ethernet.
  • This is what's make me more excited about USB Type-C accessories. Gladly that it isn't proprietary and it will be a standard in the near future. Sent from Turing Machine
  • I'm selling my dock on eBay this weekend if anyone's interested. UK bidders.
  • This is where Microsoft needs to be proactive, and go to college campuses and major hotel chains and outfit them with continuum "terminals" that consist of keyboard, video, and mouse, so all a student/traveler needs to do is carry a phone and plug in. Imagine if every college campus had a continuum dock where a keyboard, monitor and mouse currently sit.
  • Sounds like a big investment for the few thousand owners of a 950/XL!