Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 18th Feb 2014 23:10 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

So, convertibles. Laptop/tablet hybrids. I think their popularity started with early Asus Transformers, but since then, they've become a pretty big staple in the device landscape. Since I'm in the market for a replacement for my dreadful ARM Surface RT, I've been looking at this market segment again, and have noted that there's a lot of choice out there.

After the dreadful experience with the Surface RT, I'm steering clear of anything Windows RT-related. An x86-based convertible Windows 8.1 machine, however, still has some major appeal due to its excellent desktop application support that fits in nicely with my existing workstation. The tablet side of Windows 8.1, however, is still woefully underserved, with very few applications, and even those that do exist are of abysmal quality.

As far as hardware goes, the Lenovo Miix 2 10" (not to be confused with the older Miix 2!) has really grabbed by attention. It's supposed to end up at around EUR 400-500, which is acceptable. The Surface 2 Pro is also interesting, but quite expensive - although it does have a far better processor than the 10" Miix 2. There's also an 11" Miix 2 which sports the same processor as the Surface 2 Pro, but 11" seems a bit large in my view.

I've also been looking at Android convertibles, and here I run into a bit of trouble - most of them tend to run outdated versions of Android, and I'm really not looking forward to figuring out which of them have the best AOSP support. Do any of you have any suggestions here? Any models to look for? Experiences with custom, AOSP-like ROMs?

An even bigger question regarding Android on convertibles is just how well Android handles laptop-like computing. Does it do a good job of it, considering where Android comes from? It seems like to me that where Windows has the upper hand on the laptop side of the convertible, Android rules on the tablet side of it. Am I right in thinking this is so?

Order by: Score:
Android still has a ways to go
by woegjiub on Wed 19th Feb 2014 00:32 UTC
woegjiub
Member since:
2008-11-25

I thought that tablets with keyboards (android convertibles) were able to replace most use-cases for casual users.

As it turns out, after buying a note 10.1 2014 for my partner (has a note 2, loves the stylus), that is still not the case - we ended up grabbing a MBPr 13" not a month later (cheapest way to get High-DPI, OS X is nice, etc.).

The tablet applications just aren't there, and aren't up to scratch - even for web browsing and note-taking.
The iPad *still* has more tablet-oriented apps, with developers appearing to view android as a phone OS.

For convertible use, it's even worse; The clipboard and UI are simply not designed with keyboards in mind, so tabbing and tapping galore are required.
Copy-pasting large gobs of text from one app to another can cause crashes.
Trying to fill out HTML forms is a nightmare.

Android should get there eventually, but it's not there *yet*. It'll take more convertible sales, and someone big like adobe pushing their CS to android before it's viable for laptop use.
For now, Win8.1 is the only choice if you actually want to do more than play angry birds and watch youtube.

Edited 2014-02-19 00:39 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE: Android still has a ways to go
by moondevil on Wed 19th Feb 2014 08:02 UTC in reply to "Android still has a ways to go"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

This is exactly the reason why two years ago, instead of getting an Asus Transformer, I got an Asus Netbook dual core/ATI with Ubuntu LTS.

Fully Linux supported hardware, with a nice distribution. With 100% freedom to do whatever I want.

Netbooks are still around, not in the average Joe/Jane consumer shops, but there are lots of technical stores in Europe that have them.

Reply Score: 5

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I'd agree with this. I haven't tried using an android convertible since Android 4.0 came out, but it wasn't great then and I don't think its changed that much since then.

I was really kind of hoping that the KDE vivaldi tablet would be it for me, but its effectively dead at this point. If someone would step forward to polish it off, have a distro really support Plasma active, and have the hardware support. I would jump on it.

Feel free to correct me/ point me towards a great plasma active laptop/tablet 2 in one thing.

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I thought that tablets with keyboards (android convertibles) were able to replace most use-cases for casual users.

As it turns out, after buying a note 10.1 2014 for my partner (has a note 2, loves the stylus), that is still not the case - we ended up grabbing a MBPr 13" not a month later (cheapest way to get High-DPI, OS X is nice, etc.).

The tablet applications just aren't there, and aren't up to scratch - even for web browsing and note-taking.
The iPad *still* has more tablet-oriented apps, with developers appearing to view android as a phone OS.

For convertible use, it's even worse; The clipboard and UI are simply not designed with keyboards in mind, so tabbing and tapping galore are required.
Copy-pasting large gobs of text from one app to another can cause crashes.
Trying to fill out HTML forms is a nightmare.

Android should get there eventually, but it's not there *yet*. It'll take more convertible sales, and someone big like adobe pushing their CS to android before it's viable for laptop use.
For now, Win8.1 is the only choice if you actually want to do more than play angry birds and watch youtube.



Fully agreed. A year or so back, I was visiting relatives and had problems with my laptop's power adapter - it was 4 days until I could get a replacement, so I decided to see how well my Android tablet could fill in. It did okay for triage-type work and basic EMail use, but there's no way it could handle the regular day-to-day workload that my laptop does. Even if the hardware was equally-capable (which it isn't), the software certainly isn't - particularly the basic UI; the UI model of modern mobile OSes simply isn't well-suited for any kind of work requires heavy multi-tasking, particularly IT work.

To me, the difference between a traditional desktop OS & a mobile OS is akin to the difference between modern open-world "sandbox" games & early-90s FMV/rail-shooter (think Rebel Assault). I found EMail to be the most cumbersome/frustrating part of the experience, mainly because of the lack of multi-window support in any of the EMail clients I tried (something that "modern" mobile OSes lack in general). I genuinely can't remember the last time I composed an EMail from start to finish without once switching to another window (to double-check something from another EMail, etc) - the last time I used a mail client that didn't have that ability, it was probably PINE or the DOS version of Pegasus Mail. So I was quite surprised to find that Android (and iOS) mail clients are almost as primitive as command line software from 20 years ago.

Even just with web browsing, I quickly ran up against the limitations - despite that being one of the tasks that these devices are supposed to excel at. IIRC, the Android browser doesn't allow more than 20 tabs to be open at any one time - in contrast, I usually have at least that many windows open on my desktop browser, and probably 5-10 times as many tabs.

That said, I've been much happier with the tablet since I stopped expecting it to work look like a "real" computer - and instead use it for things that it does well. It's a great way to do a quick mail catch-up in the morning before getting out of bed, and it makes a good "IT accessory" - E.g. if I'm doing a large file transfer through SSH, I'll often start it on my laptop/desktop in a screen session, then connect to the same session from the tablet & use that to monitor the progress while away from my desk. Or use something like SoundWire, so that audio alerts from my PC(s) get streamed to the tablet, as long as I'm in within range of the wifi network.

Reply Score: 5

Windows 8.1 ?!?
by Nico57 on Wed 19th Feb 2014 00:36 UTC
Nico57
Member since:
2006-12-18

You'll never learn...

Reply Score: 6

RE: Windows 8.1 ?!?
by Deviate_X on Wed 19th Feb 2014 09:14 UTC in reply to "Windows 8.1 ?!?"
Deviate_X Member since:
2005-07-11

Well it entirely depends on what types of application you want to run.

There's a vast gap between the type's of applications which can run on Android vs what can run on Windows.

Reply Score: 3

Only Half Joking...
by galvanash on Wed 19th Feb 2014 01:39 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

My current suggestion is to just give up that quest and get an 11" MacBook Air (or similar small and really light laptop)...

Seriously. I have no use case any more that calls for a tablet. Between my phone (quick browsing, stupid games, etc.) and my laptop (everything else) I have not found anything I would want or need a tablet for. My iPad, while cool for a time, has been passed down to my kids and I don't miss it.

I'm not saying tablets are not useful in and of themselves - they are, its just a limited and sometimes aggrevating kind of useful... If you ALSO want what a real laptop can do and are going to carry a keyboard around anyway, a ~2lb laptop with the footprint of a tablet wins hands down.

No touch screen or detachable keyboard necessary - I find myself appreciating not having to deal with that shit way more often than I miss it - and when I have an uncontrollable urge to smear glass with my fingers I always have the phone...

Reply Score: 9

RE: Only Half Joking...
by WorknMan on Wed 19th Feb 2014 01:49 UTC in reply to "Only Half Joking..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Unless you have one of those big-ass phones that you need clown pants to carry in your pocket, I don't find phones very comfortable for extended web browsing, especially for sites that are not optimized for mobile.

They're okay for a 15 minute wait in a doctor's office, but if I know I'm going to be sitting somewhere for half an hour or longer, I'll bring a tablet with me. I find them useful for that purpose ;) I wouldn't want to sit with a laptop in my lap, trying to surf the web with a shitty trackpad; it's easier just using a touch screen.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Only Half Joking...
by galvanash on Wed 19th Feb 2014 02:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Only Half Joking..."
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Unless you have one of those big-ass phones that you need clown pants to carry in your pocket, I don't find phones very comfortable for extended web browsing, especially for sites that are not optimized for mobile.


Just an iphone, but I don't use it for extended browsing. Point taken though.

They're okay for a 15 minute wait in a doctor's office, but if I know I'm going to be sitting somewhere for half an hour or longer, I'll bring a tablet with me. I find them useful for that purpose ;) I wouldn't want to sit with a laptop in my lap, trying to surf the web with a shitty trackpad; it's easier just using a touch screen.


I don't entirely disagree, but I would say having a non-shitty trackpad makes a world of difference... I don't miss a touchscreen at all.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Only Half Joking...
by woegjiub on Wed 19th Feb 2014 02:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Only Half Joking..."
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

I've ended up wearing jackets with breast pockets at all times for that reason - a gigantophone (Note 3 in my case) is excellent for web browsing, and apart from email, that's the main reason I carry my phone on me.

Voice-calling is a rarely-used bonus feature :p

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Only Half Joking...
by WorknMan on Wed 19th Feb 2014 03:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Only Half Joking..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I've ended up wearing jackets with breast pockets at all times for that reason


You obviously don't live in the deep south. I'd like to see you do that when it's 100+ outside ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Only Half Joking...
by woegjiub on Wed 19th Feb 2014 03:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Only Half Joking..."
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

I live in the even deeper south - Tasmania, right near the bottom of the world.

Wearing a jacket would be the least of my problems if the air reached the boiling point of water ;)


Point taken, though; I've seriously considered modifying jean/pant/short pockets for hot days.

Reply Score: 6

x86 android
by curio on Wed 19th Feb 2014 02:19 UTC
curio
Member since:
2010-05-03

Your post prompted me to check in on the progress of AOSP for x86 that I had been exploring since a year or so but I haven't yet checked how stable it is currently. It is up to RC1 now though. This would be a powerful option if it would get it done for you. Any Windows version and a fairly up-to-date Android. http://www.android-x86.org/
Current release:
2014-02-14: The Android-x86 4.4-RC1 released (kitkat-x86)
http://www.android-x86.org/releases/releasenote-4-4-rc1

Tested platforms

The tests are done by the project members and others from android-porting group.

ASUS Eee PCs/Laptops
Viewsonic Viewpad 10
Dell Inspiron Mini Duo
Samsung Q1U
Viliv S5
Lenovo ThinkPad x61 Tablet
There may be more supported hardware but the "Supported list" is behind a google drive password requirement wich I will to not use.

Reply Score: 4

RE: x86 android
by henderson101 on Wed 19th Feb 2014 12:36 UTC in reply to "x86 android"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

I had it on an MSi Wind u100 booting from an SD card.

Reply Score: 2

RE: x86 android
by curio on Wed 19th Feb 2014 21:18 UTC in reply to "x86 android"
curio Member since:
2010-05-03

Tried the Live CD/USB stick version overnight on an older Fujitsu Lifebook convertible tablet T-4220, with Intel core logic.
Core 2 Duo T7700@2.4ghz (64 bit)
Intel 965 express Chipset

Initially seems to work pretty well in Vesa mode. Resistive touchscreen is non functioning (config probably), but overall it runs fast and smooth even in live mode.

My biggest complaint and the probable deal-breaker for me and mine is that it appears very well tied into Google's services. I understand this is a plus to many, but for me and mine we don't want Google, with all their tracking and privacy implications, in our core OS. If I/we need Google anything we'll use the browser based options from a clean, Google free OS.
Don't know if there's a stripped down version of this project. As earlier stated I'm just now rechecking it as an option.

Thom's post isn't very clear with regard to preferring the ability to go Google-Free (pure AOSP) or not.
The answer to that question is required because the viable options change dramatically depending.

Reply Score: 2

Dell Venue 8 Pro
by phoenix on Wed 19th Feb 2014 03:35 UTC
phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

Ars just did a review of it and found it to be one of the few worthwhile Windows 8.1 tablets. It's not a true convertible, using a separate Bluetooth keyboard, but they found it useful for when you need to do a lot of typing.

If someone releases a 5" phone with a slider keyboard, I'll be ditching my netbook, and my laptop for most uses.

An LG G2/Nexus 5 with a keyboard would be pocket computer heaven.

Reply Score: 3

Asus TF101
by dvhh on Wed 19th Feb 2014 04:41 UTC
dvhh
Member since:
2006-03-20

One thing that is severely lacking on android for productivity on tablet is multi-windows (I would love to have an overlapping or tiling windows for applications).
Although some applications and hacks are helping in that regards (I recommend a youtube application named viral)

As far as usability with a keyboard, I think that android application are still lacking, there seem to be lacking a guideline in that regard.

Office productivity is anemic, but I am not using word processing or spreadsheet that much, so I don't care much about it.

To be honest I mostly spend my time on either the browser (and I still find the browser providing a bare minimum of functionality) and the terminal.

I also had setup a linux partition on the tablet, but some power saving features are not implemented yet (such as turning off the screen when the keyboard is closed, screen dimming going to zero with no way to restore it up)

My most used applications (No particular order)
Viral (youtube player)
Remote desktop client
MX Media Player
Kbox 2 (a collection of command line utilities)
Botbrew (another collection of command line utilities)
Chrome
ES File Manager

Reply Score: 3

Comment by BBAP
by Bringbackanonposting on Wed 19th Feb 2014 04:48 UTC
Bringbackanonposting
Member since:
2005-11-16

Reminded me again how much I think tablets are of little use. I agree with one of the above posters that a phone and laptop/netbook or whatever really is the go. Another Google/Apple lock in device is IMO a waste of money - I have learned my lesson. When my Nexus 7 dies it won't be replaced. Best of luck with your choice of convertible. I'm of no use to you lol.

Reply Score: 4

Depends on your requirements
by pica on Wed 19th Feb 2014 07:21 UTC
pica
Member since:
2005-07-10

Both Android 4.x as well as Windows 8.x are good OS choices for a convertible.

So, if you need applications solely available for Windows, go for Windows.

If all applications you require are available for Android. Android is a viable choice.

Greetings,
pica

Reply Score: 4

try a dual OS computer
by Alexey Technologov on Wed 19th Feb 2014 10:02 UTC
Alexey Technologov
Member since:
2007-03-16

ASUS transformer duet and tri models have both Android and Windows 8.
They can act as either laptop or a tablet convertible.

Reply Score: 3

PieterGen
Member since:
2012-01-13

A fried of mine has an Asus Transformer. For reasons that I cannot understand Asus delivers these with old Android versions. Once he rooted it and put a fresh Cyanogenmod ROM on it, the machine became fast & fluent.

I think the OEMs reasoning is "Hey, let's put an older Android version on this machine, plus some bloatware. So that the machine is s l o w. Then our customers will run to the shop and buy our latest model, which we market as 'much faster'. But which isn't really because........of our "cunning plan" heh heh.....Rinse and repeat." Of course this is pure stupidiy of the OEMs. Sell a crippled machine and expect to keep customers? What have they been smoking? Anyway - just buy a convertible and put your own hardware on it.

BTW, a nice alternative would be (as mentioned before) a 10-12" netbook. Put a light linux version on it and you have a very nice gadget.

Edited 2014-02-19 11:39 UTC

Reply Score: 6

runjorel
Member since:
2009-02-09

You could get the best of both worlds with Windows 8.1 because you could use software called BlueStacks to run Android apps on the tablet. Not exactly the best user experience in the world, but it's usable and sometimes helpful.

I have both a Surface Pro 128 and a Surface Pro 2 256. Probably time to get rid of the first SP, but that aside, I sit in amazement everyday with what this machine can do. The fact that I can take my tablet, hook it up to an external monitor, and have a productive dual monitor setup is awesome. And then when I don't need the desktop and productivity, I just use it as a tablet. Where the Surface Pro doesn't shine is when you want to use it on your lap. Surface Pro really is a on-a-flat-surface-or-as-a-tablet machine.

Regardless, as long as you get an x86/64 processor (not ARM) you can run Bluestacks which is emulated Android.

EDIT: If you are looking for tablet to mostly consume media (generally speaking, for lack of a better word) Android is the way to go because there are tons of apps that allow you to easily consume media. However if you are looking to produce media and be 'productive', Windows 8 would be a better way to go because it is more suited and has better app support to produce media production. Again I am using the word media in a very general way and for lack of a better word.

This is how I have started making decisions on whether or not to purchase a device. I have to get my mind set...is the device going to be used for media consumption or media producing.

Edited 2014-02-19 12:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Asus T100
by Tero on Wed 19th Feb 2014 13:48 UTC
Tero
Member since:
2013-07-12

You should give a look at Asus T100-TA, I have one and I'm quite happy with it. It comes with the new Atom Bay Trail that gives enough power and a battery life to about 12 hours on normal use (I tested this), eMMC drive, usb 3 on the keyboard/dock, Windows 8.1 plus a full Office license. Possible cons are the drive capacity considering Windows+Office bloatware (I'm considering to ditch Windows changing it for Ubuntu), lack of back camera and not so great screen resolution, but considering the price it's still a good buy. I also know that Asus has a 15" transformer with an i5 but the price skyrockets

Reply Score: 3

ASUS TF700T or T100TA
by chithanh on Wed 19th Feb 2014 15:43 UTC
chithanh
Member since:
2006-06-18

The ASUS Transformer/Prime/Infinity/Pad Android tablets are usually quickly supported by CyanogenMod, so you are not dependent on ASUS to give you updates.

Work on the TF701T (Tegra 4 based) is underway:
http://droidbasement.com/db-blog/?p=3232
http://forum.cyanogenmod.com/topic/85339-device-request-for-asus-tf...
so you might buy one when CM developers have made sufficient progress to your liking.

If you prefer Windows, then the T100TA looks attractive. However, getting Linux to run properly on that device is still tricky.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Wed 19th Feb 2014 16:10 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

thom wants a cutting edge yet productive mobile computer? no more toys?! we have arrived! hallelujah!

the form factor war has been won. the email just hasn't been opened yet. pick any lenovo yoga you want.

Reply Score: 1

Android + Windows
by FunkyELF on Wed 19th Feb 2014 16:38 UTC
FunkyELF
Member since:
2006-07-26

I think Asus makes one that dual boots Android and Windows and can switch between them rather fast.

I bet within a year it will become easier to dual boot Android+Windows so that you can do it yourself. It probably won't be as fast as this Asus thing which uses some proprietary technology, but still.

I'm still very upset that the Ubuntu project to run Ubuntu and Android alongside each other (using the same kernel) never took off. It looked like the holy grail (well the stopgap holy grail until Android becomes usable as a desktop or Ubuntu becomes usable as a tablet).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Android + Windows
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 19th Feb 2014 21:11 UTC in reply to "Android + Windows"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, that might be a good solution.


http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/6/5275730/the-asus-transformer-book-...


Samsung announced another one that has never actually been released.

Reply Score: 2

Dell Venue Pro 11
by calden on Wed 19th Feb 2014 18:42 UTC
calden
Member since:
2012-02-02

I to went through the nightmare that was Windows RT, though the hardware was for a lack of a better word, awesome. I bought the Nokia 2520. If you have to go RT, then that's the model you want. Anyway I returned it for a Dell Venue Pro 11 with keyboard. The keyboard is the model with the extra battery thus increasing the entire unit's productivity time to 15 hours. After some tinkering with the secure boot loader I was able to install Android for Intel. A free download from Intels website. So now I have a dual boot system. The Dell is well made, fast, love the removeable battery, I bought 2 extras. I would highly suggest one, great tablet/laptop.

Edited 2014-02-19 18:45 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dell Venue Pro 11
by Luminair on Wed 19th Feb 2014 19:14 UTC in reply to "Dell Venue Pro 11"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

Buying an extra batter for a device with 15 hours of battery life?

All those batteries degrade at about the same rate due to age, rather than use. So by the time you need to replace the first one, they'll all be near-dead. And you'll need to buy a new keyboard then too, because its battery will be near-dead.

Reply Score: 1

Hinges
by Moredhas on Wed 19th Feb 2014 20:54 UTC
Moredhas
Member since:
2008-04-10

What bothers me about most of these convertibles, both Android and Windows, is they don't have a hinge for the screen. The Transformer line does, and the Lenovo Yoga doesn't detach, it flips back on itself, but other than that, they have a keyboard dock with a fixed position for the screen. Great if you're approximately 5'9" tall, sitting up straight at a desk of ideal height, terrible if you're a real human being who likes to use his laptop wherever he goes. Terrible if you like to lie on the couch and use it.

The number one reason I didn't get the Surface Pro, a friend got one, and I just couldn't get myself into a good position to see the screen directly. When the user has to contort himself to fit the terrible form factor of the device, you know something has gone terribly wrong in the design phase. The kickstand isn't even ajustible on the Sufrace, it's out, or it's in, and the screen is stuck at that angle.

Usually, the tablet in a convertible setup seems to be almost a whole generation behind the cutting edge of tablets on their own, so, since I wasn't going to get the hinge I wanted, I went with a Nexus 10 and a bluetooth keyboard.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Hinges
by curio on Wed 19th Feb 2014 22:09 UTC in reply to "Hinges"
curio Member since:
2010-05-03

Absolutely agree with the form factor problem of these convertibles.

Within a month of the first iPad's outing, I made mock-ups (animated .gif)of how I thought these tablets would best provide the crossover experience of tablet and laptop. I used pieces ofthe original iPad pictures as the graphic stock for the gif's.

This first .gif
http://s13.postimg.org/4k0x75iif/Easel_Book25cs.gif
is to a tablet mated with it's dock.
Notice that the keyboard/dock's footprint is larger than the tablet in order to accommodate a decent floating hinge and a back rail capable of accommodating full sized connectors (usb,lan,external antenna etc..). The dock's base could be variable as thick as needed to accommodate various storage and battery needs.

The second .gif is the tablet undocked and showing the kickstand's various positions.
http://s24.postimg.org/5bm682mjp/Easel25cs.gif

I just uploaded them now. As I said, they've been gathering dust since the original iPad came out. I fully expected to see an OEM build something nearly identical but it just never happens.

I later went on to design the tablet's interior.
If you recall, the first iPad was way out of balance because it had the two batteries at one end, with the logic board at the other end.
With the design you see in these pics the logic board would be in the center with the batteries on each side of it. Perfect balance. IO connectors could be inside the kickstand's channel on the tablet or on an I shaped kickstand. A much cleaner/safer arrangement with nothing protruding from the exterior edges of the tablet.
If convertible tablets had form-factors like this, Windows 8 would actually make more sense. The best of both worlds available at a click and a switch.
I'd love to see them manufactured by someone.
Note: more pics available...

Edited 2014-02-19 22:12 UTC

Reply Score: 3

A Business User Perspective
by lucere on Wed 19th Feb 2014 23:51 UTC
lucere
Member since:
2009-03-22

This perspective prioritizes uptime and considers the cost of downtime as a component of the bottom line.

Exclusive use of a tablet such as the TF701 (one of the best tablets on the market) can result in questionable availability expectations; on the positive side, battery power can be nice, applications such as AndrOpen Office aim to provide feature rich office suites, however the flip side is that desktop grade flexibility and refinement is still lacking thus multi-tasking rapid workflows tend to be less complimented by exclusive tablet use than their full system counterparts.

This leaves various options:

A.) Exclusive use of a laptop with a good GNU/Linux distribution such as the Toughbook CX2 by Panasonic: one of the most dependable computers available and extremely light weight. It's convertible (different meaning - swivel monitor to convert to tablet) is also very nice.

B.) A hybrid approach (this is my favorite - and what I use for my workflow): The advantage of a tablet like the TF701 is that it's light, has a great screen, the keyboard is fairly comfortable, battery power is great, instant on, etc. When greater flexibility is needed, a VM is available ready for remote access (VNC, RDP, etc.). This can provide the advantages of both scenarios. In addition, this provides nice security / privacy characteristics as, if the unit is lost or stolen, simply reject that VPN account and there are no concerns; all sensitive files are avl via the VM.

Interesting characteristic of the TF701: Asus will void the warranty if the boot loader is changed / unlocked. I have first hand experience with this; the backlight physically stopped working and, when they were given the serial number, the Asus rep kindly explained that the their records were showing the bootloader had been unlocked (automatic updating of Asus warranty servers apparently) and they would not honor the warranty even if the issue was clearly not related to the boot loader being changed such as a physical issue.

Reply Score: 3

It's about the browser, stupid.
by tidux on Thu 20th Feb 2014 05:31 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

Until the browser is a 100% drop in replacement for a desktop version of Firefox or Chromium, tablets will always be second class. I mean, I like my Transformer TF701T, but I use it for fucking around on 4chan, reading ebooks, listening to music, and fullscreen SSH. If I need to do real work without an internet connection I'll bring my Thinkpad running OpenBSD.

Reply Score: 4

ezraz
Member since:
2012-06-20

I really want to know if those things really work -- I see the worst of both worlds with these convertibles.


Here's my current use cases for things too big for my phone:

A) hooked to widescreen - in "office" mode. Full keyboard, dual monitors, backup drives, additional inputs, outputs. Endless run time. Runs everything for serious work.

B) unplugged and mobile - in "mobile office" mode. Full keyboard, basic laptop features. Single, small package. 4+ hour battery life b4 plugging in, runs everything for serious work.

C) on the couch relaxing, watching TV - touch interface, web browsing, youtube, beaming video to the roku. Single piece, always on, very rugged, no open/close or other objects needed.

D) in the kitchen, showing recipes and/or playing TV while cooking. needs to be rugged and take up little space.

E) in the car/at the doctors office (out of house) - for kids, waiting rooms, etc.

F) in the bedroom, next to bed, playing netflix, youtube, sports scores, etc.

G) in the bathroom, gotta get some reading done!

H) in the kids playroom to play a game after doing homework

I) in my woman's purse, at the shop, at her moms, doing web, youtube, email, etc.

J) as a music player streaming http://the1.be, plugged into external speakers.



To think that I'd use 1 device to do all 9 above freaks me out. A tradtional, powerful laptop is perfect for A & B, but C, D, E, G, H, I are best with a true tablet.

First off, you'd be touching that same piece of technology all day and all night, everywhere. You'd literally need to take it from room to room, from place to place, always. Like a toddler with a security blanket.

I love that the tablet in the kitchen can't log into the database and get work done. (It could if i really needed it to using RDC tech).

After 12-14 hours working at my computer I really do like putting it to sleep and walking away. I still need tech many evenings, but I don't want to touch my work computer at that point.


Thom - I'd really love to hear about these convertibles from a daily use standpoint. Do you really treat it like a laptop, do all your work, then walk away and flip into a tablet and do your tablet stuff? Do you primarily use it as one or the other?

I just can't imagine it's a good tablet (as light, rugged, and portable as possible) and a good laptop (as powerful and full-featured as possible) at the same time. Where are the compromises?

If we could design trucks with better gas mileage than Prius' we would. They still couldn't park where a Prius does.

Edited 2014-02-20 15:23 UTC

Reply Score: 1