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A Week Without Windows – Day Two, Week One

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Day two of my Windows-free week and the first serious challenge to the idea of using Android away from the office. The challenge of using an 8” screen as your interface for a day I’ll put to one side for the moment, because the challenges would be the same on a larger screen.

Whilst I have access to my business applications through a Citrix VDI session and the Citrix Receiver client is pretty good on Android, there were come serious challenges to using Android as my only tool, which certainly reduced my productivity.

Mainly this meant having to use web based versions of some applications that I take for granted on Windows. This felt awkward and clumsy at first and jumping on and out of browser tabs seemed rather more difficult than it should be. However with some re-arrangement of how I do what I do I was able to find a way of working that allowed me to get things done almost as efficiently as when using Windows.

There were some bonuses too. For example, rather than having to open a browser tab to login to my bank I was able to fire up its Android app and be back to what I should be doing in no time at all. I would have happily traded some portability for a larger screen though.

A larger screen wouldn’t fix Android’s clunky multi-tasking, or more accurately in this case Samsung’s, because as yet no official Nougat build exists for any Android tablet and therefore only those provided with a vendor multi-tasking capability will allow two apps on screen at once.

That multi-tasking capability is further harmed by Android’s lack of support for multi-monitor setups. If I plug my Tab into my DisplayLink dock in the office I get three very useful replicas of what’s on the device display. Not great.

With my Windows laptop I’d have a very neat multi-monitor setup, rather than a single screen solution. Even when casting to a WiDi or Miracast device the Tab S2’s screen is just mirrored on the larger display.

Having PushBullet installed on both Samsung devices I was able to ignore my mobile phone completely, responding to messages directly from the Tab’s screen and attached keyboard.

The last problem I came across was shortfall in ports. The Tab S2, like most Android tablets, has one micro-USB port, with support for USB-OTG, That means you can plug in a keyboard or full DisplayLink dock solution but there’s no option to charge whilst your doing so. I found that under heavy load there was no chance that the battery would last the whole day and found that I had to alternate between full productivity and topping the battery off. The lesson being, if you’re going to do this you’ll need a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to make it viable.

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