The unicorn is dead

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Kumabjorn, May 10, 2020.

  1. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    Sorry for the depressing title, and while Corona has influenced this conclusion it doesn't have direct causality. Trust, me, I want a one device solution as much as the next TPCRarer. Having less jobs than usual I have also had more time pondering this topic, so let's see if I can make some sense.

    My normal out-n-around bag contains my iPad Pro (9.7), my Surface Go and my Asus Vivo Tab Note (but used seldom), a BT keyboard that can switch between three devices, my cellphone (used for tethering) and a huge battery pack (mainly to make sure the phone doesn't go down). It takes about two minutes to get everything up and running. Nearby is a Farmer's Market that offers some nice seating, fresh fruit, wind shelter, and soda machines. Mostly I ride my bike with everything insida a big tote bag, sometimes I will shove it in a back pack and walk there.

    During Corona I decided I wanted to test riding my bike to places further away. I also wanted to see if I could do it all with a "unicorn" solution. Everything in my pockets (@Mesosphere would be proud, shorts with two big cargo pockets), all I took was my Sony Xperia (gen 1), iClever foldable BT keyboard, my phone and a small "lighter" battery pack. For one week. And these are my conclusions.

    It CAN be done, but it isn't sustainable. But not for the reasons you might suspect. Yes, the 6.something screen is small, but it is functional. Yes, the keyboard is a bit flat and key travel is limited, but it writes. My guesstimation is that typos, and I'm a decent typist, went up around 25 - 30%, annoying, but not a deal breaker. Hunt and peckers probably won't be as affected.

    At home my setup is four screens, two are QWHD (2k 27") so plenty of real estate. Whenever I need to check something on the Xperia it became time consuming. Granted, it isn't exactly the ultimate portable setup, but even a Samsung Fold would require you to pick it up and switch active window. But that still isn't the reason I pronounce the unicorn dead. I can envision a future device that will have an additional slide out screen on a foldable device making it possible to have three decent size windows open simultaneously. Productivity will be hampered, but it will be hampered in even more ways.

    The main problem, for the time being, is that Microsoft is too tied in with Intel. The Surface Pro X has become proof that they are unwilling to go all in on portable computing. Thus in the foreseeable future portable devices will remain in the iOS/Android eco system. But Microsoft has switched business model under Nadella (always want to call him Nutella, because he looks so innocent and sweet) and are becoming dependent on the service model. Simply put, they need people to remain in an Office-centric computing environment.

    Hence, the iOS/Android versions will remain crippled, focused on input, but all major content management will require the Windows environment. So even a future Fold 2 with S-Pen will require you to open a Word document on your Windows computer to add the final required touches, make a thorough spell or grammar check, reformat some columns or whatever is needed. And the same goes for all other Office apps. All the new features will be released to the Windows version, and the portable versions might get some of it, a year or two later. Hence, your productivity will continue to be hampered on your mobile devices. If you have conspiration bias in your personality you might even ponder whether the Neo might have been too good. That it had the potential to free you from your desk. So, no matter how exquisite hardware may appear, Microsoft will make sure that you can't untether from that desk setup you have going. No, you might not need to upgrade it as often as you used to, and your mobile computing will become more and more convenient. You just won't be able to grab that elusive unicorn by its horn and ride it into the sunset of computer freedom.
     
  2. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    That sounds heavenly. Kind of makes me wish I didn't live a thirty minute drive from work.. As for that dead unicorn, can we revive it with a small portable full windows 10 machine? I thought there were some Kickstarters that produced those. That way you can run full Office 365. Like this? Or are those still too big?
     
  3. nyb72

    nyb72 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Love the original post.

    I've been searching for pocket computing for decades it seems, and we get tantalizingly close, but nothing follows through to a practical solution. I think my dream pretty much died when MS abandoned Windows Mobile and the potential of Continuum.

    I did have a setup using a Note 8 with Dex, but when I couldn't figure out a way to efficiently /reliably cut and paste items between apps on the "desktop", including MS Office... that right then and there killed it for me. And then I step back and look at the absurdity of having to pack a folding keyboard, mini projector, capclip mouse, pouches, cords... all in the name of "portability", having to track all these things, and keep them recharged... I sort of begin to realize that I could travel more effectively with one compact laptop. I think the laptop game changer for me, is being able to use the same PD chargers that you can use for phones. Because I used to loathe having to pack those annoying power bricks for laptops. I used to argue that a phone, folding keyboard, arc mouse, took about the same volume as a laptop charger brick.

    I was pretty happy with the GB12 as a travel solution. But lately, I've been eyeing the Flex. I think the GB12 keyboard is beginning to annoy me. I find that being able to type on your lap is very unencumbering from having to find a tabletop, and the Surface-style keyboard isn't practical in that regard.

    I'll still keep one eye open on portable tech. Folding screens are intriguing... and maybe someday Office apps will be good enough compared to their desktop counterparts. Perhaps a concerted effort for true multitasking will emerge once folding screens provide the real estate to justify it. In the meantime, I'll preoccupy myself searching for a used NP9
     
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  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    You and I have different unicorns in mind!

    Yours sounds sleek and agile and has lots of social networking skills. And maybe ribbons on the handlebars. A fine and respectable beast who elicits gasps of glee and wonder from the happy children running the May Pole at the farmer's market.

    My unicorn, on the other hand, is the kind you take with you to the mobile command station parked atop various hills overlooking whatever battle is being waged below. You send him galloping down to bowl over orcs and impale trolls as needed.

    Much to my surprise, I woke up one day not long ago to the dawning realization that my kind of unicorn now exists. (Orcs beware!) -The latest Samsung 15.6" Flex looks awesome!

    When I go to farm markets and parks, I tend to leave the war gear at home. -Though, my beast is certainly polite enough to sit down with me in a cafe and sip coffee while we draw up campaign plans. Unicorns have some magic, after all. But for true mobile, hand held computing I can pull out on a park bench? No, that's not what my guy can do.

    I hope you find your guy someday!
     
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  5. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    You don't think that screen is too cramped? I've looked at some of those pocketable computers and they always come up a beer short of a six pack. Do like how they try though. The failure is not in trying, it is in giving up trying.

    You & I, reasonably close but never that alluring Clinton cigarr. Sometimes I wonder if my expectations are just unreasonable. Like trying to find that 25 year old Bratt Pitt look alike with a billion dollar bank account who happens to be impotent.

    TPCR would be a ghost town if we all pursued the same unicorn. Luckily, there is always tomorrow and something new and interesting beyond that blue horizon.
     
  6. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    HA the irony of me finally finding MY unicorn is it costs more than I can really justify, so I just pine away at pictures of it instead... :rolleyes:
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ooooh. I forgot about this monster!

    Some Unicorns, even when you know they are real and out there, remain in the "Mythical Beasts" section of the D&D manual. That's $5000 USD..!
     
  8. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Nice unicorn - 1080p screen at 15.6 though. Shame they didn't go to 2K at least.
     
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  9. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I took a long, hard look at my finances...

    A refurbished Cintiq Pro 24 and a brand new core i7 Flex 15.6" happened to be priced almost the same on eBay. Which do I need more..?

    Well, the Cintiq Pro, after looking at it seriously just doesn't measure up to my Dell Canvas. It's smaller and louder. It doesn't appear that the fan has been quieted down even with firmware updates. And I'm really used to the Dell 27" now; it's just a beautiful design, low profile, great hardware touch enable/disable button and analog backlight dimmer and glorious touch... AND I've finally trained myself to work around the line-hooking bug; you just have to know where to slow your stroke when inking. So in all honesty, with the muscle-memory training I've undertaken, I think the Dell is better.

    Okay. That leaves the Flex...

    It's bigger, faster, bluer, longer battery life, and it has those thunderbolt ports...

    And all of that would be fantastic, but my N9P 15 is still in perfect condition, still a lovely machine to work on and so it would basically mean spending three thousand bucks on .6" and a slate of minor upgrades none of which are mission-critical.

    Hmmm... that's $1000 per each .2"

    No sir! I can't justify that.

    So what did I do instead?

    I bought a camera with in-body stabilization for video, with a great vlogging lens, -all for around $650 CAD.

    There! Beat that for non-linear problem solving!
     
  10. T-ravisty

    T-ravisty Scribbler - Standard Member

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    You and me both. If I had a few more arms and legs, maybe, but alas.
    The lack of a palmrest though, ehhh... a minor nuisance.

    My current unicorn is a convertible with side display bezel buttons like on the ZBook x2, which I think I'm now looking to sell.
    Something more akin to the Surface Book that's rigid, that's more user up-gradable, with bezel buttons, Wacom EMR, and Pantone certified display with the utilitarian ruggedness of a ThinkPad for a semi-workshop environment.

    ZBook X2 - It's fine, but I use it more as a LAPtop, and the kickstand just isn't comfortable or practical, and it's not the lightest unit so it really digs into the knees.
    It was once my unicorn just for the bezel buttons, but not so much now..
    Not a huge fan of the 4K non-DremColor display either, but in Aus options are limited - again, I only have so many arms and legs. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
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