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  1. Geek42's Avatar
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    Default Z10 Workstation Experiment

    Hypothesis:
    The BlackBerry Z10 has sufficient power and features to allow it to be used as a daily use desktop.

    Experiment:
    Since the BlackBerry Z10 charging cradle is not yet available(with the HDMI ouput) I have connected a microHDMI cable to the Z10. This cable is connected to a HDMI-DVI adapter and then a 1080p computer monitor. Additionally I have connected a Dell Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to the Z10.

    Daily, I use certain tools regularly:
    • E-Mail
    • Web Browser
    • SSH
    • Remote Desktop
    • Office Suite

    I wanted to find out if these tools were usable in the above configuration for regular usage.

    Tested Tools:
    Email: I have been using the built in communications hub on the Z10
    Web Browser: I have been using the built in browser on the Z10
    SSH: For SSH I have been using the PuTTY port available in BlackBerry World as "Telnet SSH"
    Remote Desktop(RDP): I have been using Remote Desktop for BlackBerry from the BlackBerry World
    Office Suite: Again using the built in Docs to Go on the Z10

    Current Results:
    I have connected the above configuration on my desk next to my general workstation. The following are my observations and issues with each part of my work.

    General: The inability for the desktop portion of the Z10(icons, app tiles) to rotate is very annoying. I get a single column in the center of my screen with the portrait oriented display. There are huge black bars on both sides. Tonnes of wasted space. Apps that support rotation are still running at about 1280x768, so there is a small black bar on either side even the. Due to the very high resolution, it does not scale great to a large screen. Some items like text boxes and control ribbons can take up 2 or three inches of screen space.

    The mouse cursor is ugly. It works fine, but there is only support for one mouse button, and not all apps properly utilize it even there. This needs major improvement, including using the scroll wheel and right mouse button.

    The keyboard works for basic functions great, but some keys do not seem to translate reasonably or at all. An example would be volume controls, they do nothing.

    Overall it's quite usable, the gestures and side swipes with the mouse are quickly adopted and most of the quirks are quickly worked around.

    E-Mail:
    Since this app will rotate, it nicely takes up the whole screen. Some elements seem oversized, but are fully usable. Due to the keyboard being connected, we never see the popup onscreen keyboard. Access to all parts of the interface with the mouse work perfectly. Only problem is that the scroll wheel does not work. Navigation of large emails works perfectly, but I would like a way to change the zoom dynamically to fit more on the big screen at a time.

    Web Browser:
    The web browser works great for showing any page you can throw at it. This really is a killer feature for using this as a desktop. I did find, however, that using internal DNS names was causing problems(eg. stats.company.internal), this is something I have to look into further. Multiple tabs work great. As with email, I do wish there was an easy way to scale the page to fit more on the screen. A huge problem with the browser is that it does not appear to support mouse gestures to scroll around larger pages. This works with email, but not here. I have to use the arrow keys or page up/down on the keyboard to navigate on a page.

    SSH:
    The SSH program works in the landscape orientation as well, and detects the connected keyboard, so you can have fullscreen SSH connections to multiple servers. There is a bug in this version that makes the font display wrong in landscape, but it can be overcome by changing the font setting, either before or after the connection. Some keys on the keyboard, most notably the ESC key, do not appear to translate properly and this can cause issues with software like VIM that use that key extensively. CTRL and the Function keys do appear to work fine.

    Remote Desktop:
    This app supports full resolution RDP sessions to windows boxes. It works in both portrait and landscape modes. I found a bug that meant mouse clicks were not detected from a Bluetooth mouse, and the developer(a very responsive individual) has promised to fix this in the next release.

    Office Suite:
    A very usable suite of basic office tools. I can create and edit documents on the device no problem. The controls are oversized, but it appears to work well with the configuration I an trying. Presentations display amazingly well on this setup, using the mouse to change pages with just a swipe.

    Current Conclusions:
    Between SSH and RDP I can manage any of the systems that I deal with. There are VNC clients that I have seen, but not used, that might allow remote admin of additional systems. With the web browser supporting all my monitoring software properly, and the email keeping me up to date, I can do the majority of my job from my phone, even as a desktop.

    Additional:
    Most apps could do with testing using a keyboard and mouse. I will request this from the devs of 3rd party apps, but I have not contacted BlackBerry about this yet.

    I would like to see apps that detect an external display and run on at full resolution(ie 1080p). This would be great for the RDP and SSH apps. If the email and web browser were to detect and scale the display, even as an option, this would become a very compelling option for users.

    Questions?
    Any questions or requests? I'm quite willing to try stuff.

    Geek42
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  2. Crowezine's Avatar
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    Using it like a little, limited, computer? Indeed that is a great usability factor. But intentionally, I doubt people would bother to hook it up to a monitor using an adapter and connecting a mouse. To some extent, it may be better just sticking to the device itself.
    Josh - Curve 9320 & PlayBook 64GB - BlackBerry Enthusiast - CrackBerry Addict - PlayBook Sideloader
  3. Geek42's Avatar
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    The thing is, it's not that limited. And with a bit of tweaking it could be quite advanced.

    The advantage of this is that I can have a computer that is always with me. I always have the apps I expect available, and with the VPN over the mobile network, I am always able to get access to the office resources.

    It is suprisingly addictive. Once the charging dock is available I will be able to setup a desktop that I just walk in, drop the phone in the dock and keep working. Currently it's complex to setup, but that will change. I could give a Z10 to many of the users I deal with and have them working using it. Even as a thin client to a terminal server if I wanted.

    The options are endless, and it would reduce the number of devices needed.

    I don't expect this to be the norm now, but in a few years I do see people using their phone as their only device, and connecting to peripherals to enable features as they need them.

    The Z10 just happens to be really close now.
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  4. bert106's Avatar
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    I don't know if I misread or missed it, but if you have the phone set in a landscape position whilst attached to the monitor, the monitor will automatically flip between portrait (on the home pages) and landscape on any apps that support that mode, filling the screen in landscape mode.
    BlackBerry since 2008
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  5. BB Marissa's Avatar
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    I can see great uses with this, especially if Citrix come up with a good Receiver application!
  6. Bungalow_Bill's Avatar
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    I comb through these forums everyday hoping to find interesting posts like this. Thank you for doing all that and presenting it in such a useful and readable format. I had wondered about this very idea when I read about the docking station with the HDMI output and wondered whether BlackBerry was going to keep moving the Z10 in this direction. I think it would be a great idea. I just left an iPhone after 4 years and I'm very glad the Z10 is much more like a computer with shared file folders, vastly greater multi-tasking capabilities and standard HDMI port. If they could fix those issues above and bring the Word and Excel apps up to a higher level then I would think it would be a great sell.
  7. Geek42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bert106 View Post
    I don't know if I misread or missed it, but if you have the phone set in a landscape position whilst attached to the monitor, the monitor will automatically flip between portrait (on the home pages) and landscape on any apps that support that mode, filling the screen in landscape mode.
    Yeah, it seems to be only if the phone is detecting it is in landscape and is not consistent for me. I often end up in portrait mode when I don't want to be. I'm betting there is or will be a way to make this more consistent. Thanks for the video, really shows what I'm talking about.
  8. Geek42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BB Marissa View Post
    I can see great uses with this, especially if Citrix come up with a good Receiver application!
    I totally agree, and I hope that you get that app. For me it's just the standard Windows Remote Desktop for accessing servers and a few remote workstations. Outside the bluetooth device issues, it works really well. And with the nice high resolution, I could give this to a user and they would be productive quickly on it(with a terminal server on the other end).
  9. Geek42's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    I agree that the apps need an ability to detect that they are on an external screen and possibly the mouse/keyboard connected so that they can change how they display user interface elements.

    I would love to see if anyone has any other apps that they might find useful on the Z10 as a desktop app.
  10. greatwiseone's Avatar
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    I have used Citrix Receiver on my PlayBook hooked up to the TV as a monitor when I'm on trips. It works fairly well, but RIM really needs to enable multi-window support in BB10. Great to multi-task between applications that are all running, but not that hard to just enable two applications being able to run side by side.
  11. lnichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BB Marissa View Post
    I can see great uses with this, especially if Citrix come up with a good Receiver application!
    Is receiver not there yet? It's been the PlayBook for a while.
  12. djrupey's Avatar
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    As an ordinary phone and PC user, I don't pretend to understand even half of what you've described, but I appreciate you taking the trouble to describe your findings nonetheless, because I honestly believe that this sort of functionality is what is motivating Blackberry behind the scenes. Remember, Thorstein Heins has been talking about "the future of mobile computing". Not the future of mobile phones. I would absolutely love to be able to use my Z10, a BB10 PlayBook or future BB devices, as a mobile computing hub which can be plugged into workstations wherever I happen to be, eg at home, the office, when staying with relatives etc. If iPhone and Android cannot match this potential functionality, then Blackberry will have a killer USP.
  13. oddboy's Avatar
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    Great post. I've been using a similar set up almost exclusively lately. It really shows you what multitasking is - its not running a bunch of apps at the same time, it's being able to sync box files, copy a collection of files to my device over a file share, play music *and* run a bunch of apps at the same time.
  14. last_attempt's Avatar
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    I also appreciate when people try these little experiments to see the feasability of using phones and tablets as a stand in for a laptop / desktop. My technical and computing requirements are quite modest compared to most people on this site I suspect, so for me just having the option of using a larger screen and larger keyboard and mouse is a biggie.

    My playbook with the BB key & mouse to big screen will probably 60% of what I need to do without too much hassle. The other 15% I try to use Splashtop to connect with a small Dual core headless desktop I have set up in the basemeant connected to my .5 Gig external storage drive. The other 25% percent I still prefer the laptop because it's quicker / easier. But I think we are getting close, the computing power is there just needs a few more wrinkles worked out and usb (otg) decent docking station which should all be doable in the near future.
  15. Playbookjoe's Avatar
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    I think one of the main points of qnx was that it isn't burdened with being stuck with only one home screen (like a shell in windows).
    The shell is just another app, and can be changed when necessary.
    Docking in a workstation could just trigger a more traditional desktop home screen. (similarly, docking in you media center dock at home could trigger a media center home screen)
    The dock could also run a bare bones version of qnx with another dual core processor and some ram and the phone will just start using those resources as well due to its design.
    Lots of possibilities.


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  16. oddboy's Avatar
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    QNX is awesome. I really want to see some of these resource finding and sharing capabilities!
  17. Mr_F's Avatar
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    Default Re: Z10 Workstation Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Playbookjoe View Post
    The dock could also run a bare bones version of qnx with another dual core processor and some ram and the phone will just start using those resources as well due to its design.
    Lots of possibilities.
    This is exactly what I was thinking. The resource sharing aspect is something that really excites me. The possibilities are endless. Let's hope the Z10 & Q10 give them a firm enough financial footing to be able to really innovate in this field. It could be a game changer - if handled well.
  18. CJH_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geek42 View Post
    The thing is, it's not that limited. And with a bit of tweaking it could be quite advanced.

    The advantage of this is that I can have a computer that is always with me. I always have the apps I expect available, and with the VPN over the mobile network, I am always able to get access to the office resources.

    It is suprisingly addictive. Once the charging dock is available I will be able to setup a desktop that I just walk in, drop the phone in the dock and keep working. Currently it's complex to setup, but that will change. I could give a Z10 to many of the users I deal with and have them working using it. Even as a thin client to a terminal server if I wanted.

    The options are endless, and it would reduce the number of devices needed.

    I don't expect this to be the norm now, but in a few years I do see people using their phone as their only device, and connecting to peripherals to enable features as they need them.

    The Z10 just happens to be really close now.
    This is exactly what BlackBerry envisioned.
    Awesome you're doing this. Kudos.

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  19. Nigelbrown's Avatar
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    I completely agree, I've been using my playbook as most of my computing interfaces, remoting into my servers, managing home / work easily and remotely without my desk.

    We just need citrix for me to be work complete on my new z10! Unfortunately a very large portion of my work is completely in the citrix environment. Better tie ins with viop systems at the core of BB10 could also be great attraction to the platform....

    Posted via CB10
  20. rolltide78's Avatar
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    They really need to work on the display options...bumping up higher resolutions when hooked to a monitor. Make the most common options work with mouse/keyboard (like copy/paste and integrate shortcuts) and this is amazing. Paired with BES and access to work shares and internal data or externally connected via Citrix and this can get real powerful real quick.
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  21. Guignards's Avatar
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    Default Z10 Workstation Experiment

    ive been thinking about something like this similarly, but from a development standpoint. would anyone be interested in collaborating to create a desktop application that could manage invoking other apps to run all while providing a desktop like enviroment at 1080?
    idk maybe i just dream to big, but this is a project that is to large for just myself. i would love to hear from fellow bb native devs on the mater and see what you think.

    if interested in the idea of the project and you are looking for a challenge, pm me and we can start to bounce some idea back and forth.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
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  22. Geek42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guignards View Post
    ive been thinking about something like this similarly, but from a development standpoint. would anyone be interested in collaborating to create a desktop application that could manage invoking other apps to run all while providing a desktop like enviroment at 1080?
    idk maybe i just dream to big, but this is a project that is to large for just myself. i would love to hear from fellow bb native devs on the mater and see what you think.

    if interested in the idea of the project and you are looking for a challenge, pm me and we can start to bounce some idea back and forth.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
    Do you mean a app that uses the external monitor seperately like the presenter or media player can, at full resolution? I'm wondering if this API is something that devs like the one doing the RDP app, or splashtop, could take advantage of. It would be neat to have a couple of apps designed as desktop apps using the external screen exclusively, or at least detecting and adapting for it.

    Creating a framework for apps to use as a base would really help some people, I think. Ultimate would be to have a interface on the BB10 device itself, even if just a keyboard and touch pad, that controls the full res app.

    Someone needs to port firefox, I would totally rock that.

    If you do move on something like this, I'm no app dev, but I do know my way around a codebase, and would happily test.
  23. xxslxx's Avatar
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    I would love to see this developed to the point where the blackberry can replace the desktop PC and support a proper full desktop environment with cloud-based software and data and output to multiple monitors / projectors!
  24. jeffreytoronto's Avatar
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    Moderator--- this is worthwhile as a sticky! Great video and info for phone usage....
  25. Guignards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geek42;8033342[B
    ]Creating a framework for apps to use as a base would really help some people, I think. Ultimate would be to have a interface on the BB10 device itself, even if just a keyboard and touch pad, that controls the full res app.[/B]

    If you do move on something like this, I'm no app dev, but I do know my way around a codebase, and would happily test.
    This is definitely along the lines that i was thinking.
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