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I've also been looking at Android convertibles, and here I run into a bit of trouble - most of them tend to run outdated versions of Android, and I'm really not looking forward to figuring out which of them have the best AOSP support.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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RE: Hinges
by curio on Wed 19th Feb 2014 22:09 UTC in reply to "Hinges"
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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
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.

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

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