Julie’s gadget diary – I’m one step closer to using an Android device as my main travel computer

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. By that definition, I’m insane because I continue to look for ways to turn a tablet or even my smartphone into my primary all in one computer. Why would I even want try that? Because I’m The Gadgeteer, that’s why.

Seriously, though, ever since the early days of the Palm Pilot PDA, I have dreamt about one handheld device that would function as my phone, my camera, my laptop, and my desktop computer. I know that we keep getting closer to this reality, but we’re not quite there yet. But, that hasn’t stopped me from trying again and again. And as you’ve read in some of my previous gadget diary posts, I can’t seem to let go of the dream so I’m going to ask all of you out there to help me figure out if it’s really possible or if I should finally give up and shut up about it.

Why do I want one device?

Last week I read two articles that brought these one device feelings back to the surface for me:

The 5 stages of Chromebook acceptance and Kyle Lambert made his illustration career on the iPad.

The reasons why I keep wanting to use only one device is that I’m into minimalism and I think it would be great to be able to fit all of my computing and product photography gear into my pocket. This would simplify and significantly lighten my load when I travel and would allow me to work anywhere and anytime. Besides those reasons, there’s the challenge of trying to find a way to make it work.

My biggest road block that had been tripping me up in the past was a way to use the desktop version of Gmail on my phone or tablet so that I can easily file and label emails and work in my multiple inbox setup. I kept trying to get the desktop version of the site using Chrome which was a disappointment. But Firefox, on the other hand, does work.

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With the desktop Gmail site, I can keep my email nice and tidy by filing with the one of 100’s, if not 1000’s of tags that I use to keep my mail organized and my inbox at a manageable size.

But now I’m trying to solve another problem. Batch renaming images to fit the file naming convention that I use for reviews. If I’m traveling and snapping images with my phone that I want to use in a Gadgeteer post, I don’t want to just upload the images directly to the site because they will be too large of a resolution and they will have a default file name that does not identify the images in a human readable format.

In a perfect world, Google Drive would have a batch file rename feature since the images I take with my phone’s camera automatically get backed up to my Google Drive account. I know that I can individually rename images inside Google Drive or even with a file manager on my phone, but that gets tedious. I’ve tried several batch rename apps for Android, but so far none of the ones I’ve tried will let me rename multiple files at one time using a format like company-product-#.jpg where the # gets replaced with an incremented count like apple-iphone-1.jpg, apple-iphone-2.jpg, apple-iphone-3.jpg and so on.

I’ll continue to look for a solution, but if any of you out there already know how to do this, please share your ideas in the comments below.

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11 comments… add one
  • Walter Shwe February 12, 2017, 4:25 pm

    When I read this piece 2 thoughts came to mind.

    1. The Sentio (formerly Andromium) Superbook claims to turn any modern Android smartphone in to a laptop. Originally they were supposed to ship this Summer, but it’s been delayed for who knows how long. I pledged on Kickstarter, but I think the campaign is over. Sentio is taking preorders on their site.

    2. Windows on ARM could be another option. Microsoft and its partners should come out with mobile devices that run full Windows and have built-in cellular capabilities. The catch is that I don’t expect such devices to show up until a year from now.

    • Julie Strietelmeier February 12, 2017, 4:40 pm

      The Sentio looks interesting, but it’s actually not what I want or need. I don’t need another laptop-shaped device like it or a Chromebook. I could just use a really light weight laptop which I already have. I’m really trying to find a way to make my phone or existing Android tablet do everything I need/want instead of buying something new. 🙂 At least for right now.

  • Justin February 12, 2017, 5:24 pm

    I’ve been wanting a pocketable all-in-one device for what seems like an eternity now. Having tried various solutions (i.e. pico projectors with phones, remote desktop apps), there’s still a lot of room for innovation in my opinion. Unfortunately, the past year or two, every new phone just looks like any other phone. The only thing moderately exciting to me on the horizon are potentially Windows on ARM, multi-window Continuum, and maybe a Surface phone.

    What I think I’d like to see are two things: 1) a 5″ phone with flexible display technology that has a “trifold Z shape” configuration that can unfold into an 8″ tablet form and 2) a fullsize bluetooth keyboard that can separate into 4 sections in such a way that when you stow it, it has the same perimeter as a 5″ phone. So I think if you could stack these two items together in your pocket, it would be no thicker/larger than a wallet.

    • Julie Strietelmeier February 12, 2017, 8:41 pm

      It sounds like you dream about the same things I do 😉

      Right now I can do almost anything I need with an Android device. I just need to iron out a few of the remaining kinks with file renaming issues and give it a trial run to see what other problems crop up when trying it in real life instead of just in theory.

      • john February 16, 2017, 5:43 pm

        I actually responded to the file renaming issue a few days ago. I don’t think the comment went through because I included a URL.

        fyi: ES File Manager does exactly the type of renaming you’re looking for. It allows for a [base] name and optionally, sequential numbering. Other file managers might also provide this functionality.

        Note: The free version of ES File Manager can be annoying. It’s my understanding that the paid version removes those annoyances (ads, full screen ads, 3rd-party downloads).

  • Shane February 13, 2017, 9:41 am

    This may not work for you, but my first thought was that there may be an app that would allow you to select the name of the photo before you took it. That way you wouldn’t need to do any renaming. I took a quick look in the play store and found INVPhoto, Inventory Photos by liliandroid. It looks like this or something similar might work for your review photos.
    Just a thought on how to accomplish what you want in a different way.

    • Shane February 13, 2017, 9:46 am

      Another idea is to save photos for each review in separate folders. Folder Camera – FOLCA by skyd offers this function.

  • Shane February 13, 2017, 9:51 am

    Camera Folder by camfolder looks like it would be better and is still being updated.

  • Julie Strietelmeier February 23, 2017, 9:27 am

    Check this out: http://bgr.com/2017/02/22/remix-singularity-android-desktop-mode/

    This is the same (not the same version) of the OS that is in the Azpen Android laptop that I reviewed last week.

    Very exciting stuff!

  • Julie Strietelmeier February 23, 2017, 5:23 pm

    I just found that there’s already an OS that will turn your Nexus 5 into a PC. It’s called Maru. Too bad it’s only available for the Nexus 5 right now.

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