There is a quiet revolution occurring in terms of the devices people are using to work. I’m not talking about the natural switch of desktop PCs in the office to laptops and I’m not talking about the new smaller desktop PCs that are entering the enterprise market and being used as end points for both hosting apps and as end-points for virtual apps and desktops. I’m talking about hybrid devices and my experiences of those. By hybrid I mean a hand-held device which attaches to a keyboard to mimic a laptop or is connected to larger screens for a rich creative experience at the desk.
I’m observing hybrid devices initially with self-employed professionals market and the consulting shops and its slowly pervading down into enterprise employed knowledge workers. For the past 3 months I’ve been working solely with these devices, shunning the larger and faster ultrabooks in favour of smaller more portable devices – I’d like to share my experience.
Stage 1: Microsoft Surface Pro 2
I started with the Pro 2, and still use the device as a Windows 10 device. I used the device for all my work and found that for me it was a good combination of power and portability. I didn’t like the on-lap experience and I didn’t like its size – the Pro 3 would be much better for me there (hint to anyone reading 🙂 ). I didn’t like the pen placement as its just not practical for lifting in and out of bags – it would always end up at the bottom of the laptop area. The USB port was the way I had a full desktop experience – the device happily drove a USB 3.0 dock which in turn drove 2 monitors, a keyboard and a mouse. Its performance was excellent and the experience was very good. If I wasn’t spoiled by an array of devices I’d still be using it.
Stage 2: The Lenovo ThinkPad 10
Stage 2 moved to the smaller ThinkPad 10. This for me is the perfect form factor but at times, and only at times, its not quite powerful enough for me (at times = about 1% of the time I use it). It’s a superb device when used with the solid keyboard base (with an internal slot for the pen). The desk based dock provides rapid charging and again connects to the same USB 3.0 hub driving 2 monitors a keyboard and a mouse. The tablet screen is smaller and lighter than the more powerful Surface Pro 2. And I really love the experience and the battery life is absolutely what the mobile professional needs. I know that will degrade with time but right now I really can do a full day at a conference event with this. It is a game changer and with the next generation of low power consumption but performance focused CPUs these devices (pro 4, next gen Lenovo etc.) will be in my view the purchase of choice for IT departments.
What is changing?
In order this is why I prefer using hybrid devices:
- Ability to run all the productivity apps I need (for me this is Windows)
- Portability and weight
- Powerful enough to drive a desk-based experience with multiple displays
- A light enough tablet to use as an e-reader and pen for annotation
- Battery life
Good on-lap experience (conferences, planes etc.)
As more people experience these style of devices when their consultants visit with them, their family buy them or simply through the media campaigns then we will see a natural progression of user expectation. For me Hybrid is the future.