I’m normally a pretty frugal guy when it comes to tablets. This week I finally broke down and splurged on an Android tablet that costs as much as a flagship phone, the Lenovo P12 (MSRP $699).
It’s beautiful, big (12.4″ screen), and is meant to compete in the same category as an iPad Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8+. It’s responsive and I’ve yet to put the pen through its paces. But last night, while in a hotel room in Boulder (I’m visiting the local Webscale office), I decided to try one of its highly touted features: using it as a second screen for my laptop.
Problem 1: Incompatibility with NEEDED software
The laptop comes pre-installed with “Lenovo Project Unity” and the instructions say to download the corresponding Windows app from the Microsoft PC app store. Seems simple enough. But when you look at the reviews, people are complaining that you have to uninstall the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable (2015-2019 or 2015-2022) or the app won’t install. Trust those reviews.
When I tried to launch the app, it wanted to install a display driver and gave an error message. I followed the recommendations to remove the redistributables and everything installed.
I got it up and running with the tablet, but the lack of those redistributables caused problems for other apps. When I put them back, Project Unity wouldn’t run. So you have to choose between this and a number of other programs that depend on those redistributables. NOT GOOD LENOVO.
Also, this isn’t mentioned in their guide or FAQs. I shouldn’t have to be getting troubleshooting advice from reviews on the Microsoft app store, Lenovo. Just because it’s embarrassing to admit doesn’t mean you should hang your customers out to dry, Lenovo.
Problem 2: Wi-Fi Only – No Offline Operation
This only works on Wi-Fi. I absolutely was NOT going to have this running across the hotel’s insecure Wi-Fi and didn’t want to try to troubleshoot the possible issues of having my laptop and it separately connected to a VPN and see if they could spot each other, so I used my phone as a hotspot.
Connecting them wasn’t tough. So that’s a positive. Still, I’d much rather be able to connect them by wire with a USB cable and not have that signal going over anyone’s network. Even on a low-end cable, there’s plenty overhead to stream a screen.
Problem 3: Static Resolution
When it connects, you’re stuck at QHD (2560×1440) and cannot change the screen resolution. And while you can implement scaling for it in Windows (125% seemed good), the scaling is not applied across all apps. So it gets fiddly.
The hardware is really nice. That screen is beautiful. I think I’m really going to enjoy this tablet. Even though I’m partially colorblind (missing some parts of the red and green spectrums), I was like: “ooh, the colors.” But when it comes to the feature that supposedly sets it apart from other tablets… it’s just a buggy gimmick and Lenovo should be ashamed. It obviously got pushed out the door before it was ready.