I’ve spoken a bit in the past about device redundancy. As you can see from the picture above, it’s possible to have a lot of machines that do the same thing. And they may not talk well, or sync entirely. It costs more money, and is wasteful – as well as less convenient. So recently I started to play with using my tablet as more than a tablet.
I got a powered Belkin four port hub and plugged in all sorts of external devices as a sort of docking. 2 TB external mechanical hard drive, Linksys Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, printer, wireless mouse, keyboard, display.
It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve found even with USB 2.0, and just using one port, that there are no real bottlenecks other than the hard drive speed. I expect one might add to that with an external video card. The reduced power consumption from wireless connectivity, definitely adds to the life of the battery, especially on charge.
Fast enough of a tablet, and you can happily use it as a desktop.
Slimline laptop space
The other potential of course with tablets is in the netbook, Chromebook, slimline laptop area. Of course many can be paired with keyboard docks, if not at least a Bluetooth keyboard case. The tablet I am using is the Chuwi vi10, which is a 10.1-inch tablet with two full sized USB 2.0 ports, one micro-USB, and a magnetic keyboard dock with trackpad.
So what I did was added to the 64GB internal space, with a 64GB microSD, and an external Lexar 128 GB USB nub (One of those micro USB flash drives). It’s USB 3.0, but still runs a bit quicker than other USB 2.0 drives when plugged directly into one of the ports.
The 3736F chipset is a tad faster than the old 3735 and comparable to the newer cherry trail 8300, with less heat. With that driving only a lower resolution screen, you get a pretty fluid experience, and with the added space, holding extra programs and increased media storage, it does start to feel more like a slimline or similar, even when using it in tablet mode – It feels more like a computer, mobile.
The other little gem I found was using the tablet on a tablet stand. With the extra space, and just a wireless mouse and keyboard, it could be turned into a sort of decent couch, or bedside computer that swings round when you want to use it.
So what things can you actually use such a set-up for? Well, with the increased storage on the device, I could set up some VMware virtual computers, and essentially store several machines with different OS’s, setups, on the tablet. They wouldn’t run fast, but it would enable me to emulate networks, or other environments.
What I have currently, is a series of video games that run without heat – that I wouldn’t have so many installed of, if I had less space. All full desktop games. I have Office of course, and as well I have Fruity Loops installed. With storage for sample memory, I can actually write music on the go, professional quality, using just the tablet, and/or a midi keyboard if I plugged one in. Higher CPU power might be more ideal for that, especially gigging, but I can still do it.
One could install something heavier than usual, full software, like say Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop on a sufficiently powerful tablet, and create art on the go, using only the tablet and a stylus. Touch apps available on conventional touch devices don’t have this kind of power.
And if they did, without the storage, you couldn’t install a lot of them.
The other thing I have on my tablet right now, is Gigabytes worth of media. Enough to more than keep me entertained, where ever I go. And that is nice to also be able to share with friends what you have collected.
The Future of Computing
Bringing the power of the desktop, and the slimline to a more portable and flexible device like a tablet, really is kind of exciting. The potential will only be truly unlocked when USB 3.1 or thunderbolt is included, to allow fast hard drives and fast video cards to dock into the tablet, making it truly run like a desktop when used as one, but in the meantime, this 3736F chipset shows the potential to me, and there are chips available affordably that are even faster.
In a year or so, I think we will see small tablets with the power of a slimline, with ram and chipsets that stand on par. If we can see 3.1 or thunderbolt on some of these models, we will see the first next gen hybrids. When that happens you can expect Windows 10, as the only viable Hybrid OS, to go huge. I think we are close to the future of computing. The meeting point of fixed computing and mobile computing.