Updated: May 19, 2016
Being able to use your smartphone as a desktop has a lot of allure to lots of people. Phones and tablets are all nice and dandy, but due to evolutionary factors explained in a related article, they are not really useful for anything but passive enjoyment of content. You simply cannot get the same type and/or amount of speed, efficiency, productivity, and multi-tasking like you can on a keyboard-and-mouse device. Plus money.
But what if you could transform your touch device into a would-be desktop? Sounds good, and this is what Convergence is. Dubbed various names and titles, this element of the M10 Ubuntu tablet sounds like an excellent selling point. I've already given you a review of what the hardware and the operating system can do, but we did not dwell on the desktop-like usage. We will do that now.
Insieme, unite unite tablet
My Convergence test is going to include the following: 10 inches of Ubuntu tablets, to be taken before a meal on an empty stomach, one tablespoon of HDMI cable and some nice adapters, one fine LG smart TV, and one Wireless keyboard with a dongle, previously used for my Raspberry Pi testing. Mix it all together, bake for 35 minutes at high quality, and produce the now ready and rad and ever so crisply delightful article from an oven.
I decided to see both what the tablet would actually do once connected, but also see if I can use an external keyboard and mouse to navigate the desktop mode, because touch isn't really practical for speed. Or as they say, I feel a need, a need for speed!
Very early into the testing I realized I did not have a USB to micro-USB adapter, which precluded me from connecting the keyboard dongle to the tablet, and using the standard connection, normally reserved for charging, does not quite work. Well, the keyboard was not meant to be for now. Another time.
Once connected, the M10 tablet displayed a message telling me the large touch screen was now acting as a touchpad, and I could see the mouse cursor moving on the TV's 42-inch display. For some reason, the over-HDMI tablet control always ended up with the portrait rather than landscape, and that does mess up your spatial understanding of things. Locking the rotation did not help.
Overall, it worked as advertised - mostly. I had a decent network signal, which beats the result achieved by the Fire TV Stick placed in exactly the same spot, but matches the larger Fire TV and other appliances used in the same manner slash geometry.
Then, I was not pleased by the fact the display looked misaligned. It seems like I needed to calibrate the screen edges to actually see the full Ubuntu screen. Luckily, this was a quick and simple fix. I just had to make the TV scan the source rather than use slash force a 16:9 aspect ratio. Then again, all other media gadgets we tested in the past seemed to behave nicely, which can possibly be attributed to the fact they do not have their own screen and such. Dunno.
I can't begin to express how bothered I was by the screen calibration. Luckily, solved easily.
Once this hurdle was cleared, the rest of my brief testing was smooth sailing. I also tried the tablet in different conditions, including full-day glare, twilight and internal spot and fluorescent lighting, and it looked quite presentable. Worked neatly too. In fact, there's really no reason why you couldn't have Ubuntu OS powering a smart TV of some kind. On that bombshell. Or is it a bombbash. Oh, get it? Hi hi.
Arthur C. Clarke said (wrote): any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In this regard, the Ubuntu tablet did pretty well. The desktop mode was activated with the external displayed connected, and windows all had borders and such. Network worked fine, and all considered, ignoring the underlying Ubuntu bugs affecting this tablet, the end product was working with flair.I still think users should have an option to mirror displays rather than be forced to use a blind touchpad that is not in the same plane like the external monitor - or the same geometry, as that can be confusing. Plus, I owe you the full keyboard/mouse test. There are a few other tiny niggles, but in general, I don't have anything bad or outrageous to share here. Which is exactly how technology ought to be. Simple. Seamless. Friendly to the user to the point of blissful apathy. Not bad. Not bad at all. After a less than stellar start with M10, this is exactly the motivational boost this product needs. To be continued.