With do business from home changing into extra prevalent over time — the final one particularly, Android OEMs have repeatedly tried to make their tablets extra productive and work-ready. This previous week, I attempted to make use of an Android pill — Lenovo P11 Professional with keyboard cowl — for work as an alternative of my normal Chromebook, and it didn’t go effectively.
Earlier than we begin, it’s necessary to notice that “work” goes to look totally different for each particular person, and my expertise won’t precisely match anybody else’s expertise. On a typical day, all I actually need for work are net apps like Slack, WordPress, Gmail, Google Docs, an RSS reader, and a photograph editor.
Most of my crucial instruments supply an excellent Android app, so it appeared cheap to me that an Android pill and a Chromebook would be capable of do roughly the identical job. For the previous few days, I’ve used an Android pill for as many work-related duties as I might. In fact, there are nonetheless some issues that may’t be executed from an Android machine, corresponding to app growth, and in these cases, I briefly switched to my Chromebook for its Linux apps assist.
The pill in query is the $550 Lenovo P11 Pro, with its 11.5” 2560×1600 decision OLED show, Dolby-enhanced audio, and Snapdragon 730G processor paired with 6GB of RAM. Whereas that is removed from flagship specs — sharing most of the identical inner specs as utilized by the $350 Pixel 4a — Lenovo put the “Professional” within the P11 Professional by providing a keyboard entrance cowl with a trackpad and a kickstand rear cowl that work collectively to create one thing of a laptop computer expertise. For the artists and notetakers, the P11 Professional additionally affords assist for an energetic stylus, included in some bundles.
As a pill for gaming, bingeing, and fast searching, I really like the P11 Professional to date. It’s a fantastic dimension for toting round, and the material of the entrance and rear covers feels nice within the palms. If all I wished was a tool to do Android issues on a much bigger display and sometimes sort out one thing, the Lenovo P11 Professional is greater than adequate. However this pill is billed as “a fantastic productiveness machine” and I wished to place that declare to the check.
Step one, naturally, is to attach the keyboard cowl and prop up the kickstand, providing one thing of a pseudo laptop computer type issue. On a flat floor, each the kickstand and the keyboard have a contact an excessive amount of give to them, wobbling a bit with every keypress.
And, in fact, on account of the compact design, the keyboard can really feel cramped, particularly for those who’re making an attempt to press any key that isn’t a letter or quantity, as all less-essential keys have been decreased to lower than half their normal dimension. It took over a day for me to get acclimated to the keyboard’s dimension and positioning.
Under the keyboard, the duvet additionally features a touchpad to manage a mouse. Controlling Android with a mouse is a weird feeling, however works effectively sufficient. The touchpad even affords two-finger gestures corresponding to pinch to zoom, however there isn’t a simple differentiation between utilizing two fingers to zoom and to scroll. If I’m not conscious to maintain my two fingers shut collectively, I’ll typically find yourself zooming and scrolling in the identical movement.
Worse, this specific touchpad feels prefer it has virtually no palm rejection, which means I’ll regularly find yourself clicking someplace else on display whereas I’m in the course of typing a sentence. As an alternative, I find yourself merely disabling the touchpad altogether when typing and utilizing contact for the few occasions I must.
With reference to disabling the touchpad, let’s get deep into the weeds of the typing expertise on this Android pill. As a author, that is my crucial use case for “productiveness.” To disable the touchpad, it’s good to use a selected keyboard shortcut, Ctrl-Shift-T.
For causes I can not fathom, the Ctrl-Shift-T combo additionally triggers the Ctrl-Shift shortcut which switches your enter technique. By default, this opens and prompts Android’s built-in voice typing capabilities, briefly pausing any music you’re listening to and enjoying the mic activation chime.
If that’s all there was to the problem, it wouldn’t be too large of a deal. Nevertheless, Ctrl-Shift is additionally used for textual content enhancing, as holding Ctrl alerts the textual content cursor to maneuver per phrase slightly than per letter, whereas holding Shift is used to pick out textual content to repeat, minimize, delete, italicize, and so on. Which means any time I used Ctrl-Shift-Left to pick out the earlier phrase to italicize for emphasis, the Ctrl-Shift shortcut would additionally register, activating voice typing, and often dropping my choice.
I ultimately discovered how one can work round this concern by disabling the “Google voice typing” keyboard altogether. That mentioned, it feels to me that the macros weren’t created with productiveness in thoughts, nor have been they examined earlier than launch, as Ctrl-Shift-T completely mustn’t additionally activate Ctrl-Shift. These keyboard shortcuts additionally can’t be overridden.
On the software program entrance, attaching the keyboard cowl places the pill into Lenovo’s specifically designed “Productiveness Mode” that offers one thing of a desktop-like expertise. Right here, apps are in a position to run in home windows that may be moved, resized, and — for some apps — maximized.
Productiveness Mode takes some getting used to, however is considerably okay at switching between apps. There are some edge circumstances the place it will get awkward although, corresponding to switching between a number of home windows of the identical app — like Google Docs — or closed apps nonetheless showing within the backside bar, in addition to the number of apps that don’t assist Productiveness Mode. App home windows additionally typically lose any changes you make to their dimension and form.
In the event you favor Android’s normal window administration, as I do, you possibly can rapidly flip off Productiveness Mode with a Fast Settings toggle. That mentioned, there are additionally some quirks with not utilizing it. For instance, the Alt-Tab shortcut affords no sign to what app you’re switching to for those who’re not utilizing Productiveness Mode.
However what in regards to the Android apps themselves? As I discussed earlier than, virtually every thing I must do for work is obtainable as an Android app or net app. So, in concept, it must be a breeze to work from an Android pill. Nevertheless, the fact is a bit messier.
When Android builders create their apps, the first factor they take into account is optimizing their app for a candy-bar-shaped cellphone that by no means adjustments in dimension. With foldables and Android desktop experiences gaining popularity, this has began to alter, however in the intervening time many apps nonetheless insurgent in opposition to being resized and maximized by a window supervisor.
Worse, apps like Slack don’t anticipate you to have a full keyboard with Ctrl keys, which means urgent issues like Ctrl-B for daring textual content merely does nothing. This isn’t a failure of Lenovo’s pill or Android as an OS, however it’s a irritating inconsistency nonetheless.
Fortunately, Google’s personal apps like Google Docs and Chrome for Android each have virtually full assist for keyboard shortcuts. Higher but, Chrome for Android is a shining instance of how Android apps ought to work on tablets, because it affords what looks like a real desktop expertise, full with the higher tab bar.
Nevertheless, Chrome for Android nonetheless has some crucial inconsistencies to work out versus the desktop model, as there’s nonetheless no (native) assist for extensions, and a few net apps nonetheless misbehave on Android. For instance, whereas making an attempt to write down in WordPress, I had complete paragraphs disappear upon save on a number of events, an prevalence I’ve by no means run into on desktop Chrome.
For me to get work executed in what I contemplate an efficient means on this Android pill, I wanted to:
- Disable Productiveness Mode each time I join the keyboard
- Disable the touchpad every time I’m typing
- Disable Google voice typing
- Draft in Docs as an alternative of WordPress
Whereas none of those are a very large deal, it’s disappointing how the default, out-of-the-box expertise of working from an Android pill is so severely unpolished and irritating by comparability to a Chromebook.
That mentioned, I’m totally having fun with the time I spend with the Lenovo P11 Professional exterior of labor, with video games, films, and music all trying and sounding unimaginable. Whereas getting work executed on this Android pill is awkward at greatest, it’s nonetheless most undoubtedly potential. If I used to be to go on trip however wished to take a work-ready machine with me simply in case, the Lenovo P11 Pro is simply barely adequate for work whereas being unbelievable for private leisure.
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