Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Turn a Galaxy Tab 2.0 7" into a working desktop.

With some accessories, the 7" Galaxy Tab 2.0 can be turned into a productive desktop workstation.
Docked in an Arkon fold-up stand and connected to a Graybean USB OTG hub, the Tab 2 can be propped up with extended storage and input I/O.

The Graybean OTG USB hub supports 3 USB inputs and various sd/tf/mmc cards. I already have other OTG cables but I like the fact this sport several USB ports.

Here, I attached the Tab to a USB docked 2TB SATA drive, various USB sticks, USB keyboard and mouse.

A few notes on this setup:

A power adapter does not come with the hub yet it has a port for external power. You can't even power a keyboard or mouse without external power. I don't know if this an oversight or missing items from my order. Luckily, I had a spare power adapter on hand that worked with this hub.

Next, you can't have more than 3 USB drives connected. I've tried and it will randomly unmount drives until it has two available. The hub's sd card reader will override the internal micro-sd card. This is with a stock non-rooted device. Rooted, you can probably mount more devices.

Everything else works since Android's ICS supports USB HID and storage device. The mouse and keyboard works great. I noticed that many applications do not work as well as their desktop counterpart. For example, in Chrome, you can't right click and open a link in a new tab nor can you create a tab with a keyboard. Scrolling is reverse (aka natural scroll) similar to what you would find in OSX Lion. If you move the mouse down, the page scroll ups. Furthermore, I can't seem to disable the on-screen soft keyboard. It gets annoying whenever I reach an text input area and the soft key pops up.

So far, I use the Tab to type up simple Word compatible .docx notes and use connectbot to turn the Tab 2 into a SSH terminal. I tried a few RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) apps but the 7" screen is too small to make it useable even with a mouse and keyboard. 

I am using an Arkon stand and I think it is amazing piece of accessory for $8. It is compact, folds up easily, and works with 7" and 10" tablets like the iPad. A few people I know who have seen the Arkon stand rushed out and ordered ones for themselves. I seem to prefer using it over propping up the Tab 2 with a folio case.

Overall, this new setup has renewed my interests with the Tab 2.  I prefer the 10" Tablet size and I'm constantly trying to justify the 7" form factor. This now keeps my interest on the Tab 2 from waning.

Arkon Fold-up tablet stand at Amazon
Graybean USB OTG Hub at Amazon

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