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I've also been looking at Android convertibles, and here I run into a bit of trouble - most of them tend to run outdated versions of Android, and I'm really not looking forward to figuring out which of them have the best AOSP support.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?

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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 the device going to be used for media consumption or media producing.

Edited 2014-02-19 12:21 UTC

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