It seems almost discourteous of me as a Microsoft MVP awardee to describe the Gemini in the title to this article, with a phrase that Microsoft once used to market their Surface Pro range, but I hit a problem in that I simply couldn’t think of a better way to describe the device.
I’m a desktop PC user. I like the ergonomics of being sat in a good, comfortable, upright chair, with a full-size keyboard and as large a screen as I can fit on my desk. This will never change, and it’s the same for many different people. Some can’t be without a tablet, for it’s big touch-screen they can lounge on the sofa with, and others want a laptop they can use for the full power of a PC or Mac, wherever they need to be. Neither of those form-factors suit me personally.
What does suit me is the PDA form-factor. Being able to have a proper keyboard, and a full computer in my hands whether I’m standing, sitting, walking… one form factor that can be used whenever, wherever, and however I choose.
The PDA is perfect for me, but it’s also hugely practical for other people as well. You might be surprised when I say that the Gemini PDA can replace your tablet, laptop, smartphone, and even your desktop PC if you’re so inclined. How? Let me explain.
How the Gemini can replace a laptop is obvious, though the small form-factor has to work for you. Tablets are a little more tenuous, however being able to use the Gemini while lounging on the sofa, or walking around certainly helps. Using the Gemini as a smartphone is a far easier sell, as the device not only already has full cellular functionality, but can be used closed to make phone calls.
So how can the Gemini replace a full desktop PC you ask? Other attempts have been made to produce smartphones and tablets that either plug into a laptop shell, or that plug into a dock that’s then connected to a full keyboard, mouse, and monitor. These include the discontinued Continuum dock for Windows Phone, and the Dex docking system for Samsung smartphones.
What the Gemini does is much smarter, allowing you to plug the device directly into a PC monitor from a USB-C port, and through the HDMI adapter, or into a monitor that allows a USB-C connection directly. A full keyboard can be added the same way, and Bluetooth exists for a mouse. Not to mention that the optional accessory pack includes a dongle with extra USB ports, and a full Ethernet port.
Add to this the fact that this works with both the installed Android and Linux operating systems, and you’re vastly increasing the usefulness of the feature, and how much you can achieve with the device. Just as was advertised by both Microsoft and Samsung, you can carry your files with you, and plug into any desktop system wherever you are, be it a remote office, a customer site, a hotel, or friend’s apartment and get working.
Unlike Microsoft and Samsung however you don’t also need to carry a dock and power supply, thus greatly increasing the effectiveness of the Gemini as an all-in-one mobile device.
It’s not a bad proposition with apps either. The Microsoft Office 365 apps available for Android might not have the functionality of their full desktop counterparts, but they maintain support for all Office features so your documents won’t become garbled, and the full suite of apps exists, from Word, and Excel, to Teams, OneNote, and Outlook.
Many other business-focused apps have Android versions too, with more having fully-featured progressive web apps that will soon be coming to the stores for both Android and Windows 10, meaning you’ll likely be using the same software and interface anyway, whatever device you use.
In the face of progress and integration like that, and with the knowledge that you can carry your computer with you wherever you go, and to wherever you need to be, with it being fully usable the entire time, the Gemini PDA can therefore only be properly described as “one device for everything in your life”.
Mike Halsey is the author of 18 books on Microsoft Windows usability, accessibility and troubleshooting, writing for Apress, and has been a Microsoft MVP awardee since 2011. He produces video courseware for Pluralsight and also teaches English and Maths for a local charity near his home in Yorkshire (UK). He lives quietly with his rescue collies, Evan and Robbie. He runs the Gemini Planet website and it’s accompanying Facebook Group. You can follow him on Twitter as @MikeHalsey