John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Using Android as your main machine

A while back I bought an Asus Transformer TF701 Android tablet. I liked it enough I bought the keyboard to go with it that transforms (pun intended) it into a netbook. I made this my main machine and even went so far as to sell my Asus X2020 Win 8 machine. I’ve tried to use a number of Android devices prior to this one as my main machine and it was never practical. The addition of the keyboard makes this a lot more possible. This time around I have been able to use it as my main machine. I’ve run into a few limitations and a lot of pluses.

I’ve yet to find a good solution for Office on Android. AOB sucks. Polaris is clumsy. Microsoft released office for Android but left off support for Android tablets. Don’t believe me (I’ve had more than one person argue with me on this point): Both my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and my Asus transformer clearly show not compatible.
Microsoft are in a preview program for fixing it, but until then it is a limitation.

RDP is problematic on this device. I select a resolution other than full screen and it only occupies a part of the screen. I’ve tried 2X, Microsoft RDP you name it. All are less than perfect. The Microsoft one full screen ends up so small I can barely read it even with glasses. The best I have come up with is to use the Microsoft one and use the zoom tool. Clumsy. Right mouse button works, everything else works it’s just finding a set of settings with a high resolution device like this is challenging at best. If RDP worked well, this would solve the Office issue (just RDP to a Windows box).

I run into an occasional web site that will not listen to the request desktop site. What I would actually prefer is a setting that said always request desktop site. And if the site is flash based your completely dead in the water.

As a statement of the obvious if you need to run a PC application, there is just no way to do it.

Anti Virus programs on Android are in their infancy at best. If this is something you demand then this solution is not for you. My internet banking solutions have Android apps and they guarantee the safety of them, so for me this is less of an issue. I am careful to not load APKs from unknown sources (that could be infected with viruses).

Task switching between apps is clumsy. You need to click the double window soft button and select the app you want. What’s missing is some form of keyboard shortcut to quickly move between running apps.

This one is both a plus and a minus. On Windows the operating system itself requires patching once a month (which usually also means a reboot). Then apps acquired from Windows store get updates from time to time. In the Android world the OS rarely get’s patched but the apps are frequently patched. Almost daily. So this is both a plus and minus.

I hate glide points. the one on this tablet is particularly bad. The select buttons are clunky to hit and the glide point does not simulate the mouse button when tapped. I’ve been unable to find a setting to change it. On the positive side there is a quick button to turn the silly thing off and use a bluetooth mouse which is exactly what I do.

There are a number of Android apps that have decided to not allow them to be run on tablets. Too high resolution or for whatever reason. So because of this, there are occasional apps you want and can’t get to work on this tablet. Oddly enough, most of them when I manually installed them actually work. I also found occasional apps that do not rotate on the screen making them useless when the keyboard is attached.

Printing is something you need to think about. The easiest solution if you have a PC in the house anyway is to use Google Cloud Print. Then you can print from anywhere from Android (or other platforms too). If not then you have some challenges.

Scanning is of course not something that is happening. You are unlikely to get Android drivers for your scanner.

There are many.

This device has terrific battery life. All day of hard use is not a problem. Much better than any of the Windows devices I’ve used. And with llama set to turn off wifi while I sleep multiple days is a real possibility.

Instant on actually really works. No delays. It just works. And background updating of mail/contacts etc also just work. Try saying that about Windows tablets.

This device is quick. Regular maintenance to kill background tasks is needed to keep it responsive. But overall this device is as close as instantaneous as it comes (other than iOS). You sure can’t say that about Windows.

HDMI works amazing. XBMC at 13.1 works well.

Reliability on the device is really quite good. As good or better than Windows. An occasional reboot is required to get things back running but these are by no means common.

So all in all I have been successful using a Asus tranformer 701 as my main machine!


December 3, 2014 - Posted by | Android

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