TabletsThu, Apr 25, 2019 in Tech
Not long before the modern smartphone revolution, I acquired a Nokia N800, described by the company as an Internet tablet. Despite being limited to wifi connectivity the device seemed idea for have a portable, personal device that would be far more portable than a laptop.
In practice the 4.13" resistive touchscreen was less than ideal and software offerings were limited. The platform, Maemo, was based on Debian and GTK+, two things I have used on the desktop for years but feel unfortunately feel foreign in this form. Skype and Flash were the only mainstream applications ported.
Excited by the prospect of Android on a higher end tablet I had the much hyped Motorola Xoom from a Verizon store, the exclusive retailer. The somewhat expensive and heavy device delivered great performance on the Nvidia Tegra 2 though without many apps created for the platform. It was the first device to run Android 3.0 Honeycomb, specifically designed to bring the OS up to the task of tablet computing from its smartphone roots.
Android tablets have waxed and waned over the years with some great devices and mixed software. I owned both the first and second generations of Nexus 7, both excellent, svelte devices with snappy performance. The second generation especially is perhaps the best overall tablet experience I can recall, though looking at it today apps seem slow by comparison and the bezels are huge. As smartphones have increased in size, the screen is now not much bigger than the phone I carry.
Nexus 9 was the last Android tablet I've owned. The larger screen helps differentiate it's use from a phone, but the 50% greater mass is evident along with significant top and bottom bezels.
In my use Android and iPad tables continue to feel like large phones, with the same grid of icons and limiting touch interface. Android had Termux that creates a command line Unix environment though no X Windows capabilities. iOS has a couple of excellent SSH clients but nothing creating a local environment that I have come across.
Thus far the Pixel Slate seems to offer the best of both worlds, as a lightweight, long batter life tablet, and a capable, if locked down, Linux machine. Crostini, an official successor to Crouton, provides a Debian Linux VM within the Chrome OS Linux environment including full dpkg and X windows support. While not the fastest machine it's perhaps a more stable lightweight dev machine than my more powerful XPS 13.