Xiaomi Pad 5 Impressions

Discussion in 'Smartphone & Tablets Discussion / Support' started by IvanV, Oct 3, 2021.

  1. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    I wasn't sure should I open a whole thread, but I didn't want to hog the "What smartphone or Tablet do you use?" or "Show your new stuff" topic (where I already shared my initial impressions), so here goes.

    I haven't had too much time to play around with the device, but I'm very curious to see what kinds of use cases it can fulfill. This morning I tried hooking up a keyboard and a mouse and they worked fine, for the most part. The Esc key gets interpreted as ` for some reason, but that was the only snag.

    One unpleasant surprise was installing Excel and it telling me that I had to have an Office 365 subscription to be able to create new, or even edit my existing documents. A bit of googling revealed that Office apps for Android are only free for devices up to 10.1" (and the Xiaomi Pad 5 has 11"). Google Sheets seems to be a viable free alternative as it's supposed to support Office documents. I made a VLOOKUP example and it worked, so that should be good enough.

    I was also curious if I could get any kind of Windows emulation going. I know this is not something this device was meant for, but I was curious in general and in particular, getting Windows to boot and run a few very light apps for which there are no Android alternatives would mean that, in an emergency, I could get some work done without any heavier equipment. Googling this kind of thing brings back a ton of results, but many fake and none exactly what I'm looking for, so as far as running Windows under Android goes, this is the best I've achieved for now:



    So, for the most part, that runs fine, although I did have some issues with the peripherals. When using the mouse, the device shows two cursors, one for the Win 3.1 and another for Android, and while they always move in the same direction, I couldn't get them to move at the same speed (I played with some mouse sensitivity setting in the DOS emulator, but so far I had no luck with it). The keyboard, on the other hand, is mostly fine, but, apart from the aforementioned problem with the Esc key, Android intercepts Alt+Tab and summons it's own app switcher, which is kind of a bummer in Windows. I also noticed that there was no sound, but that's probably the lack of drivers under Windows and the lack of me setting things correctly in the emulator.

    But, for the most part, it seems to work fine. So far it's there just for the heck of it (so that I can say that I run Windows under Android, and also I guess because of nostalgia), but if I ever get a retro itch, it looks promising.

    Do you guys use any emulators on your Android devices? If yes, what do you run?
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
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  2. Calliers

    Calliers Administrator/Editor Staff Member

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    Ah Windows 3.1.

    The memories... lots of nostalgia right there.
     
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  3. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    A couple of more points worth noting about this device, one good and one bad.

    The bad one is that the USB-C connector only offers USB 2 speed. That apparently makes USB-C to HDMI a no go, which is a disappointment. There is always the casting option for the devices that support it, but that's far from ideal.

    The good one is that people have discovered that the PC Launcher that Xiaomi ships on their Mix Fold works on the Pad 5 (so far, those are the only two devices on which it works, which probably means that an official release for this device is coming). It's an app that switches the tablet to a Windows-like UI, with a taskbar with a start menu, search, running and pinned apps, status area... and ability to have multiple windows on screen, which can overlap etc., with good performance. It's not perfect (for now, most apps aren't resizable and are either running in a fixed size vertical window, as on a phone, or maximized, as they would on a tablet), but it looks like a step in a good direction. Although a usable multiwindow UI would only accentuate the lack of a monitor out as a drawback.
     
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  4. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    Hi guys. Just an update to say that I'm really happy with the tablet. Since the last post, I got a couple of extras for the it.

    One is a USB-C dongle which provides a couple of USBs, SD and MicroSD readers, 3.5mm audio, LAN, HDMI and USB-C PD connectors. I am happy to say that all but the HDMI work (yes, I can have LAN on the tablet!).

    The other is the official keyboard cover. I like it very much. The layout is about as standard as was possible with the space provided (all of the alphanumeric keys are fine, some of the keys to the right are slightly squished). The keyboard attaches very easily, no careful aiming required, everything just falls into place and remains in place quite securely.

    Typing is decent. There is no input lag, while typing takes a bit of getting used to due to somewhat stiffer membranes, but at least you definitely know whether you pressed the key or not.

    A lot of the familiar shortcuts work (Ctrl+C ili V, Alt+Tab, Win+D and others work system wide, also, for example, Excel on Android supports Ctrl+S etc) and holding the "Win" key will bring up an overlay with the supported shortcuts involving that key (which may change depending on the app). Switching between layouts is done by pressing Ctrl+Space. This is different from the standard Android Shift+Space combo, which was probably a good call by Xiaomi, because it is a common complaint that, when typing a sequence in uppercase (using Shift), it's easy to inadvertently change the layout instead of entering a blank (I ran into many such hits from Samsung DeX users). The bad thing is that MIUI "tooltip" still tells you that Shift+Space is the shortcut and, due to the lack of information on the internet, I had to figure out the correct combination by trial and error.

    BTW, I ran into one issue with the device occasionally (usually when I was in a certain part of the apartment with poorer WiFi coverage), the WiFi connection would go bad, in the sense that the tablet would be connected to the network, but Internet wouldn't work until I toggled WiFi off and on. I'm happy to say that this was corrected in the first post launch update (at least it was in the release notes and I haven't seen the issue since), which was encouragingly efficient from the support standpoint.

    For the end, I'm attaching a photo of the device with the keyboard and my regular MX Anywhere 2 mouse running an Azure Data Factory demo project (which I'm happy to report runs 100% as well as on a full fledged laptop in a supported browser). My bottom line on the keyboard is that it is a great add-on and, while a lot of the marketing is focused on the pen, I think that this is the really useful extra, while the pen looks merely like a "nice to have" to me (Xiaomi doesn't do handwriting recognition, at least for now, so the pen can be used for pointing, drawing and making squiggles which will forever stay squiggles).

    [​IMG]
     
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