John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Can an Android device replace a laptop?

I’ve asked myself this question on a number of occasions. When I travel I tend to leave the laptop at home and only bring the my Android Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 plus. The new dual core devices have a lot of processing power in them and that seem to be only increasing with quad core devices hitting the market now. Where will this madness end 🙂 Cores however are not the only answer as most aps and even the OS only take some advantage of the additional cores.

So to put this theory to the test I bought a 21″ monitor, used a bluetooth keyboard/mouse and tried to use it without touching my laptop at home. Both my phone a Motorola XT860 and my tablet a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 plus both have HDMI output!

What do I use my laptop for? Web browsing, typing in emails etc, web banking, RDP control of windows devices etc

Conclusion? Not a chance. Android is good. Processing power is excellent. The web browser is head and shoulders above what mobile browsers were even a couple years ago. I use Dolphin as well as the default Android browser. But even still I run into web sites that absolutely will not work with either. That or are so clumsy you reach for the laptop.

Remote control of Windows devices is good, but again clumsy. 2X is a fabulous program for RDP connections but the lack of right mouse button support is maddening. Again it gets so clumsy I reach for the laptop.

Internet banking is always something I’m nervous about. On my laptop I use a bit of paranoia. Anti virus is always running etc. Am I ready to trust a mobile device with my banking? I have to admit this is a threshold I have yet to cross. Now I know there are anti virus programs for Android but I have no idea how good they are. And to be honest, I still download some APKs from disreputable sources so have no idea if they may be infected with some sort of trojan horse.

The thing Android does the absolute worse is … task switching. Things run in the background nicely on Android but to switch over to that ap you need to press home then application menu, then page across to the icon for that ap then click it. Rinse and repeat. Very clumsy. For me this is something Android could really do to improve. Now you can press and hold the home button and see a recent list of aps which can shorten the number of strokes a but. There are even task switchers that remap either the home or the press and hold home, but in the end task switching is clumsy. One of the factors that makes this even worse is that Samsung’s are reducing the number of buttons on the device. So there’s no camera button you could remap or anything like that.

And let’s not forget a keyboard. Any time you are going to type anything major nothing beats a real keyboard. And while I have a pretty good bluetooth keyboard, the laptop just sits on the lap better making it faster and easier to type.

So in the end, sadly, in spite of trying it with a couple different devices I was unable to replace my laptop with an Android device. It’s getting really close. And the fact you can even entertain this is a testimonial to how far Android devices have come in a short period of time. One of the things that has been clear to be for a while, is that the tablet market place did nothing to replace anything. They simply added yet another device into our world.

The other thing this points out, is don’t be rushing out to buy any of those Android notebook/netbooks. IMHO.


September 7, 2012 - Posted by | Android

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