Although Andreas has been using Apple’s tablet in place of a laptop for some time, I’ve been a bit more reluctant to get rid of my loud, archaic machine with (gasp!) a keyboard attached. Whether it is my CR-48 or MacBook Pro, there are still some times when I want to have a full desktop experience on the go. Since I’ve never been a huge fan of VNCs and remote desktop software, a laptop has been my only option for retaining the functionality that I want. In fact, even Chrome OS on my CR-48 was a bit too restricted, and I ended up installing and using the LXDE variant of Ubuntu.
Recently, I’ve been heavily considering upgrading to the latest Samsung Chromebook as my mobile productivity machine, but the Chromebook Pixel had me intent on waiting just a bit longer to upgrade. However, now I have another reason to skip the Samsung Chromebook: Ubuntu Touch. If I bought the Samsung Chromebook, I was going to give Chrome OS another try. It has gotten more advanced than when I first removed it from my CR-48, and has enough features that I would likely be able to use it for what I want to on the go. Most of what I do is done online with Google anyhow, so Chrome OS does make sense on paper.
However, even though Chrome OS is a good fit on paper, I prefer to use Ubuntu for a few reasons. File management is better, there are more advanced programs available for offline use, and photo editing is still better with Gimp. Plus, I can always run Chrome within the lightweight variant of Ubuntu, giving me nearly all of Chrome’s features with little performance loss. As such, I’ve been fairly happy with Ubuntu running on the CR-48, because it still boots almost instantly, runs great, and offers access to almost all of Chrome’s features.
Of course, this is getting a little bit off topic. I’ve recently been looking for a new laptop, and as I mentioned before Chrome OS was back on the table. The Samsung Chromebook on ARM is a great deal, and does 95% of what I would want from a laptop, anyway. I was about to finally buy the laptop, but then Canonical released Ubuntu Touch, and I completely changed my mind.
Ubuntu Touch should put a full, native Ubuntu OS on the Nexus 10, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, and Galaxy Nexus. While many apps might not run on the ARM architecture of the devices, it wouldn’t be any different than running Linux on the Samsung ARM Chromebook. With Ubuntu Touch, the Nexus 10 should be able to run Chrome, as well as have many of the desktop features that caused me to give up on Chrome OS the first time around. When paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, this might be the best of both worlds.
Provided it becomes possible to dual-boot Ubuntu Touch and Android, the Nexus 10 could become my ultimate mobile device. Instead of a Chromebook, Nexus 7, and Nexus 4, a Ubuntu Touch enabled Nexus 10 would be able to, in an ideal situation, replicate all the functionality of an ARM-based laptop running Ubuntu or Chrome OS. Without the keyboard, the device could go back to being a content consumption tablet with either Ubuntu Touch or Android. Also, while the Nexus 10 currently costs $150 more than the Samsung Chromebook, if it can replace both the Chromebook and a 7-inch tablet, it should be well worth it.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like Ubuntu Touch is quite ready to replace a full-on laptop just yet, but it should only get better in the future. And in any case, as a Linux fan, I may get the Nexus 10 just to see how well Ubuntu Touch works on a large touchscreen device. Once Ubuntu Touch really does work well enough to replace a laptop, I certainly think that a tablet like the Nexus 10 could be the best of both worlds. Instead of trying to sync a laptop and tablet for mobile use, Ubuntu Touch would make it possible to eliminate the laptop and have just one mobile productivity device. It may seem a bit ambitious, but as much as I like Android, software like Ubuntu Touch is the only way that I really see tablets replacing laptops for mobile productivity.