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Is it a 2-in-1 if you only use 1-in-2?

April 5, 2020

I have a Pixelbook that I use regularly. I like the fact that I can log into it with both my work and personal accounts, so pre-Covid-19 times it was a way to be able to access work email and tools when necessary without always lugging my laptop home. Now, of course, I’m home all the time with my work laptop, so that’s less useful. I also liked that I could bring it, rather than my much heavier Macbook Pro, when traveling for work, and I could both stay on top of work and use it for personal entertainment on flights and in the evening. That too is something I haven’t needed in awhile, but hopefully will again in the not-too-distant future.

When I first got the Pixelbook I thought I would potentially use it as both a laptop and a tablet; that is, after all, the premise of a 2-in-1 device. But in practice I almost never use it as a tablet. There are two primary reasons. First, Chrome OS doesn’t provide a great tablet experience. Sure, it’s usable. But touch interaction feels like it’s bolted on, rather than a first-class citizen. And Android applications still don’t provide good tablet experiences (if they provide tablet experiences at all). The NY Times app for Android, for example, is slowly getting better, but it’s still not as good as the iPad version.

The second reason is that I just don’t like resting my fingers on the keys when the device is folded into tablet mode. Yes, the software disables key input when the device is in tablet mode, but it still feels wrong to be randomly pressing keys while holding the device as a tablet. I thought I might get used to it over time, but nope. When it comes to laptops and tablets, I definitely prefer separate devices. Or tablets with detachable keyboards. I know the Pixel Slate wasn’t well-received when it was released, but as a dual mode device I actually prefer the Slate to the Pixelbook. As a pure laptop, of course, I prefer the Pixelbook.

From → Hardware, Musings

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